American Towman Magazine - September 2022

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to others. They will likely duplicate what they see daily. Like that old saying, “I couldn’t hear what you’re saying because your actions were speaking so loud!”

MAN THE HELM

If you have read this far, and not offended by the thought that you might be the problem, then learn and lead. There is a huge difference between a leader and a manager. Yes, there is a place in every business for a manager, but to run a company there must be a leader at the helm. Managers are good for daily, noncritical tasks, but frontline people must be leaders. This doesn’t mean they need to be in management, as your lead driver is likely a leader even without a title or official responsibilities. As is the wise one that takes the time to mentor new employees without even being asked. These are the heart and soul of your team and should be acknowledged and rewarded appropriately. Have you ever noticed that often you will have a few team members that are respected and followed even without being in a “position of leadership”? This is what a makes for a true leader. If you are new to the concept of “servant leadership,” it might seem strange to you. But trust me it works. Your sole purpose as the owner of your company is to serve others. Serve your team, serve your family, and most important, serve your community and customers. By serving these people well you will succeed. This advice is right in keeping with the main theme of Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This simple but valuable guide emphasizes thinking in terms of other people’s needs—and then your own needs will get met. A large part of servant leadership is identifying others that have 14 • September 2022 | Towman.com

It doesn’t do any good to sugarcoat what the job is all about. If you “blow smoke,” new hires won’t last. potential, and helping them reach it in full—even if facilitating it leads them out of your company. Let’s face it, in today’s employment environment, most folks are not interested in a lifelong career with a single employer. Rather they are looking for two to five years max.

WIN-WIN

Admittedly, merely two to five years is hard to accept, since it can take that long for heavy-duty operators or recovery specialists to get good at their job. But that is a reality we face today. So instead of complaining or choosing not to invest in training and education for your team, make the most of the seasons they will be with you, even if you know it will only be a short time period. In turn, they will give you all they have for the time they are with you, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing you helped someone be the best version of themselves they can be. It is a winwin situation. Now, not everyone that works with you will be open to advancement and personal growth, but many will be. You might be wondering, “How to identify those that are open to advancement?” Determining that requires really getting to know your direct reports. Not just their name and favorite shift

to work, finding out if they have any dreams or goals outside of work, any other skills from a previous position, or general career goals. What do they want their future to look like?

PROFESSIONAL EVAL

In addition, look at a team member’s performance after a few weeks, and then again after a few months. Have they shown any natural improvement, as expected— or have they stagnated? If they’re not growing, did you provide all the necessary tools and resources for them to improve their skill set? Do they have a different learning style (e.g., hands-on versus reading a textbook)? All these factors must be taken into account before writing off someone as unwilling or unable to learn the job. Presuming you have provided appropriate resources, and they have taken advantage of them effectively, you can now begin further evaluation for promotion and professional development opportunities. The ideal candidate for professional development will be the self-starter—the person that takes it upon themselves to come in a few minutes early, stay a few minutes late, and do things without being asked. They take on an active responsibility (anticipating and acting upon your company’s needs) versus a passive one (available, but waiting to be told what to do). Another indicator of candidates’ good potential: Do they keep their equipment just barely good enough, or do they go above and beyond with cleaning and maintain their stuff? The latter can show they are eager for more, and have the desire to be professional. They will be the easiest to work with, and most eager to grow. Even so, they are not the only candidates in your company for development.