Promoting from within is usually the right call, it sends a message to your team that you value them and that there is room for growth within the company. You do need to be careful with who you choose, if you promote the wrong person you will be creating 2 problems 1)losing a good tech 2) having the wrong person in a supervisory role.
Who Not To Pick
We will start with the easy part, who you don’t want to choose. This one is easy, don’t pick your best mechanic. Typically what makes them a great mechanic rarely transitions into being a great leader and you are taking your best tech off the shop floor.
The problem is your best tech may feel slighted by not being selected. Do not ignore this, you must address this. Be honest with them, let them know that they are way too valuable to you on the floor and you feel their skill set makes them a much better technician than supervisor. If you have room in the budget, give them a raise and remind them that technicians who are paid hourly often earn more than their salaried managers who do not get paid overtime.
Who To Pick
The person that you promote should have a couple of things including experience, leadership attributes, level-head, strong communication skills and respect of the shop.
Many employers quickly fall in love with that young tech who goes after every job with great enthusiasm, stays late and is just excited to be there. They have that attitude that you want to spread through the shop and they seem the obvious choice to promote. This is usually a mistake, they have not yet earned the respect of the other techs and have not been through enough. You need to hit some challenges in your career and make it through them before you are ready to lead anyone.
This one is tougher to gauge as there is just something about some people that really make them a born leader. Things you can look for are those that take a lot of initiative and who go above and beyond the job description without being asked to. The tech that shows up early every day or stays late, or the one that is cleaning up the shop without being asked to or who is helping out other techs when they need it. This is the person that you want. You need someone who wants to do a good job because it is the right thing to do, not someone who is looking for a promotion just to get paid more.
A supervisor/manager needs to be able to remain calm under pressure. Things are not always going to go smoothly and you need someone who is not going to fly off the handle when the going gets tough. I once had a manager that more than once punched a hole in the wall when something didn’t go his way. He became the laughing stock of the company and lost the respect of the team.
This one comes down to an eye test. If a tech is going to lead a team they need to respect him. They don’t have to be the best mechanic in the shop but they should be above average with a well rounded skill set. If the person is a bit of a loner or sticks to themselves, they are probably not the right one. You don’t want someone who is best friends with everyone but someone who at least has a good rapport with the whole shop. Ideally you want someone who is friendly with everyone but is not going out for beers after working with them to gossip.
Strong Communication Skills
A supervisor or manager needs to be able to talk with their team, they must be able to coach and discipline when necessary. You need someone that is well spoken who is comfortable talking with technicians, customers and ownership. They can’t be too rough around the edges.
They should also have good written skills to be able to communicate via e-mail with customers and ownership.
Other Things To Watch Out For
- I have seen many shops that have little groups in them. If you promote someone from one of these groups you run the risk of favouritism. Stay away from anyone involved in cliques.
- They usually work in the field for a reason, don’t coup them up in a shop. They are a peacock, you gotta let them fly!
Important Final Thought
If no one in your shop fits the bill, then it is time to look outside the organization. Promoting from within should always be the first choice but do not try to put a square peg into a round hole.
If you do need to hire from outside, Rockstar Mechanics can help you find the perfect Lead Tech, Foreman or Service Manager.