Basics of Employee Management

By Bob Spitz Management Success!



Dealing with employees can be one of the toughest challenges for a shop owner. By learning some basic strategies of employee management, an owner can reduce his stress level, minimize his personnel problems, and better ensure the success of the business.


Define Your Goals

Employees are people you employ (hire) to work with you and assist you in achieving your business goals. An owner needs to have well-defined goals and he must be able to communicate them to his employees to get their support. Good employees want to know what you are trying to accomplish, how they fit into the picture, and how they can benefit by helping you succeed.


What do They Want?


To find and hire good people, you need to know what good people are looking for— what motivates them to get up in the morning and go to work. Of course people want money, but good people are also looking for a group to be part of, and they want to know that their work is contributing to something of importance. People always want to get compensated well for the work they do, don’t you?  But it’s not the only thing they want. Many people also want stability, a well-organized, high-morale working environment and growth potential. Some look for an employer who can communicate clearly and who stays relatively calm even during times of high stress.


Talk to Your People


Take the time to sit down with each member, or potential member, of your crew and find out what he wants in life, what his goals and ambitions are. Make sure he understands what you expect from him, the level of production you expect, and what his compensation will be if he achieves this level, and how this will help him get the things he wants out of life.




Your employee pay plan should reward high levels of production. It can even be tailored for each individual. One technician might work extra hard for a cash bonus while another might prefer paid vacation days for a reward. Just make sure you don’t pay high wages or bonuses without also demanding high production. Many pay systems are based on hours on the job. These systems pay people who don’t produce a lot the same wages as those who do produce a lot. In companies with these systems, employees learn that if they just show up and look like they are working, they’ll get paid. It is up to the owner to demand high production and to reward it. Don’t reward the underachiever.


Monitor Production


Make sure you have a system for tracking and monitoring production and let each employee know where they stand. Your best employees will feel acknowledged and, hopefully, the worst will feel the need to improve. Each employee should be responsible for at least one statistic that measures the main thing he is producing on his job. Employees need to know that their employment and pay is based on their level of production and its value to the company, and not on who they know or their personality or other arbitrary factors. An employer who does not enforce this kind of accountability from his employees is likely to make personnel decisions based on guesswork rather than facts.


Where Does Their Pay Come From?


An interesting question to ask any employee is, “where does your pay check come from?” Many will respond, “my boss.”  Some are closer to the mark when they say “the customer.”  But the truth of the matter is that an employee’s pay comes from his own hard work, and his ability to produce quality products and services that the business can then sell to customers for income and support.


Creating a Team


The executive of a business must be able to organize the activities of the business and train his employees so that they will be able to produce valuable products. Most people want to achieve results they can be proud of and, to a great extent, it is up to the owner to make sure they can be proud of their products. It is an owner’s responsibility to make sure that each person who comes on board is given a clearly delineated job and is adequately trained so that he understands how to do this job. He also needs to be shown what his job means to the rest of the crew and he needs to know about the overall product the company produces. Unless every employee is aware of how his job relates to the final product of the company, you will never really have an efficient team working together to achieve your goals.


Meetings are Important!


Mandatory weekly meetings with your crew will strengthen the concept of a team—that you are not just a bunch of individuals running around frantically trying to get something done—and will give you a chance, as a team, to review how the shop did during the previous week. It is vital to stay positive in these meetings, to accentuate and focus on the production and improvements that were made in the previous week and to set targets for the upcoming week. Stay upbeat and don’t let the meeting drag on. If a particular employee did something above and beyond the norm, acknowledge him or her in front of the group.  If there are any corrections or improvements you want to see, go over those, too.  However, NEVER single someone out for correction in front of the group. If you’re unhappy with someone, ALWAYS address this with him privately.


Make it a Three Win System


Help each of your employees to see the priorities of the business correctly: first, to make sure the customer wins because without customers there is no purpose for the shop, and second, to make sure the shop is winning (viable) because without the shop, there is no purpose (or paycheck) for the employees. Finally, the employees have to win, because if they can’t win, they won’t stay. Review these priorities at your team meetings and make sure they are understood by everyone.


Managing employees is a primary responsibility of an owner. Your success at it will be a function of your attitude toward the business. You set the tempo and the pace for your crew. If your standards are high, and you demonstrate your commitment to meeting these standards, they will follow. If you show genuine care for your people, they will respond.

Wishing you Success!






Management Success!, is a company that specializes in training and consulting the independent automotive repair shop owner. Bob tours the country as an educational speaker and writes numerous columns and articles for trade publications. Additional articles on management can be read online at



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