You are a service technician or installer. John Blutarsky, the owner of your contracting company has just given you this assignment: Find a manager for your department. After visions of the movie Animal House quickly, but not too quickly, pass through your head, you get down to business.
In a great manager you get that productivity, profit, coworker retention and customer satisfaction are admirable results to pursue. You’re also aware of the Gallup Company’s massive research on workplace strength and managers over the last four decades. You know that a strong workplace correlates to higher benchmarks in productivity, profit etc. You know this because years ago you read the book First, Break all of the Rules, in an attempt to better understand what great managers do differently.
You never wanted to be a manager but you wanted to be able to identify really good ones. You thought an excellent manager would be an invaluable asset in helping to advance your career.
People Leave Their Managers
Recently you read, “50% of Americans have left a job to get away from their manager at some point in their career”...from Gallup’s State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders. Working for Faber HVAC over the last decade you actually saw a lower percentage of people leave service department manager Eric Stratton.
Begin Your Mission
Whether you access service technicians and installers in online communities, at the local vendors or at professional organizations, start with your peers. Ask them about their manager and workplace. Concentrate on the first six questions of Gallup’s Q12 survey. Locate a strong workplace and you’ll find a strong manager.
Six of Twelve
Is the manager clear and concise in communicating her expectations? Nothing is more aggravating than being evaluated by a manager against criteria that she didn’t make clear to begin with. You always end up on the short end of the stick with this one.
Do you have the necessary tools, meters and material to do the job correctly? Are the company vehicles in good working order and well maintained? The intelligent manager wants your best effort. He’ll most likely not get it if the company is incapable of supplying the proper tools, meters and material. Of course the inferior manager considers it an excuse when production is lacking for these reasons. If company vehicles are in poor condition, you’ll be stuck with your broken-down rat trap somewhere on the side of the road. A company owner whose vehicles are in this condition will not be embarrassed. You should be.
Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best everyday? Are your talents being wasted? Does your manager really understand what you are capable of? If so and you’re not engaged in what you do best, why? Sometimes it’s necessary and understandable. For instance, helping out with maintenance calls. Life is too short to not be valued.
Do you and your team receive praise and or recognition for your work? Two of our greatest human needs are to be understood and appreciated. A manager incapable of praise and recognition probably doesn’t understand your value. This is a serious red flag.
Do you feel your manager cares about you? Business is personal. Great accomplishments are made along with others. If the manager does value you, it’s a sign he understands you and will invest in your future.
Does your manager encourage your professional development? To me this is a stone-cold deal breaker. Your manager should be running point on your professional development. And, if your manager doesn’t understand how your continued development is instrumental to her own success, you need to find a new manager.
Should You Poach a Manager Working Elsewhere?
The odds of locating a prospective manager who scores high on these six questions are low. Odds are the owner who employs this type of manager understands what he has and his organization scores high on this inquiry.
You might have more success if you were to expose John ‘Bluto’ Blutarsky to these six questions. Be sure to mention the exhaustive research that supports them as well. If his response is as understandable as the song “Louie, Louie” perhaps you’d be better off finding a new company yourself. You now have solid criteria to begin with.
I have somewhat modified the original questions for our use. Over the last twenty years, the Gallup company has measured the engagement of 30 million employees and more than 2.5 million business units. A service department is one business unit; an install department another.
*In my next Comanche Marketing article we’ll cover additional criteria in which to help evaluate prospective managers.