It is time to recognize, and essentially understand, the evolved and expanded concept that “education” of shop technical personnel, front counter and office personnel along with its owners/managers, in today’s world has matured to new additional definitions for “ROI.” The standard meaning of “Return on Investment” now elevates to two subsequent important definitions to include “Return on Intelligence” and “Return on Information.”
To retain valuable employees, and enhance management growth, shops should be willing to invest in on-going education that supports the professional growth of individual staff and management, as well as their general well-being. Comprehensive, on-going education has become a necessary requirement for this new era. Shops that fail to realize this will not be successful.
It is critical for shop management to have a professional relationship with employees. Owners/managers must revolutionize the traditional view of only being worried about maximizing the output of employees into a much broader form that now involves participation with every level of management and staff. The interaction between the shop management and staff on effective education, and its evaluation, is the key to success for high shop morale. High staff and management morale in today’s business leads to quality customer/client service.
Employers should prove to their employees their worth to the shop. In other words, always operate with the philosophy of “train to retain.” I was once asked, “What happens if I train him and he leaves?” I responded, “What if you don’t and he stays?” The right education should give employees the tools to develop technical skills and soft skills necessary to perform well technically as well as socially. When you enrich your employees through professional knowledge in many areas, it increases the company’s loyalty.
Competent education should be carried out regularly to keep all minds fresh and the morale high. Shop owners/managers should be aware of the fact that many competent employees are lost through lateral movements to other shops. This is scary because management didn’t understand the real reason for the employee leaving and didn’t have an interest to find out why.
Don’t be one of those shop owners who cancels a course because of a busy schedule. There is nothing worse than an employee being psychologically ready to participate with the owner and then management pulls the rug out from under him/her because of personal reasons. It’s a morale and credibility killer.
Providing education opportunities for skills and interests outside of work life is a way to increase staff loyalty and reduce turnover. Before launching such programs, a popularity survey via discussion should take place that gives the employees options to choose from and asks for suggestions. This increases communications, employee participation and shop loyalty. These additional educational experiences can be brought in-house to strengthen team spirit or held at some place or institution to encourage a meeting of minds with outside experts.
Consider education courses that offer phased-in education to the employees and management. This is much easier than learning the whole process at once. The educational courses can be broken down into a session of technical skills and then a session of soft skills or management skills and continued on in this manner. Consider offering incentives as a retention strategy, as there is nothing wrong with recognizing and rewarding a good effort. When shop education is broken down by skills, it is easier for the shop owner to seek out the right modules and set up the course date and agenda’s. Also consider that certification and standardized professional accreditation can increase you and your staff’s professional knowledge as well as retention rates.
Educational courses should not stop after any initial step is started. Employees and management need to be enriched with continuous, updated knowledge to remain at the top of their career. One of the biggest mistakes from any educational program involvement is to sit back and say, “Oh, I took that stuff three years ago. I don’t need that”— as if the world hasn’t changed in three years!!
Staff and management education in our industry today is a real and very serious issue. To overcome the shortage of competent staff by ensuring you hire and retain the best there is, management must understand their new role in the shop and consider new methods and alternatives to ensure the business you own receives the best “ROI” it can possibly obtain during your tenure.