A new study recently coming out of Warwick University has concluded that happiness levels can increase productivity by a staggering 12 percent. To me, this seems obvious, but I have seen many work places where you can feel the tension when you walk in

Why? Most likely there is a “boss” there, and not a leader. There is intimidation and fear of job loss, instead of inclusion and a positive atmosphere.

Life is too short to work somewhere you hate.

Reality Check

Be honest and answer these questions.

Do you enjoy what you do each work day?

Now as a manager or owner, do you know if your people feel the same way?

Do you have the right people in each position?

Each team member in your organization is really good at some aspect of your business (I hope), yet they may or may not enjoy that segment of your operation. Have you discussed, with each associate, what they enjoy and despise each day at work? You might be surprised what you find out, and placing associates in positions they enjoy can really change the human product ion dynamic in your business.

As a manager or owner of any business, especially a business that deals with customers, it is important that you realize the attitude and motivation of your personnel is directly affected by your actions.

Strategy Recommendations

Compensation is an important factor to help maintain morale. How you pay should be fair, easy to track by the employee and always on time. Make sure there is no confusion between what you promised to pay and what gets paid.

Payday is only one aspect of your duty to your people. I believe that an atmosphere free of useless stress is very important. If your people are “walking on eggshells” all day, they are not concentrating on what you need them to do. Bad apples in any operation can poison the entire team and slow down focused production.

Do not protect a “producer” that is very difficult to work with. You may find that the producer has the best numbers because they work to derail everyone else in your operation.

Another aspect is unpredictable or overbearing managers. They put people on edge and slowly degrade their attitudes.

Turnover is an expensive problem in any operation; don’t cause the turnover by creating an uncomfortable workplace. Having personnel that hate their job but do not, or feel they cannot, leave for various reasons is even worse than turnover.

Real-Life Example

In a small market franchised dealership I was affiliated with, the atmosphere was always tense. Many people that went from that location to ours, whether as employees or vendors, would mention it.

There was a franchise employee who requested a move to the company body shop thinking it was a move up in the company. When the move finally took place, the employee became disenchanted quickly because there was no increase in pay even though their duties increased, and the person replaced had been making much more in that role.

My operation had a vehicle in that body shop for repair that included replacing a rim. When the new rim arrived it was not the right finish but was close in all other respects. This disenchanted employee made mention of the mismatch to the supervisor, but was quickly rebuffed that it was correct and told to “get it on the truck.” The employee shrugged and ordered the tire mounted, balanced and installed.

This was an alloy rim, new from the factory parts supply, and so it could not be returned once the tire was mounted. When the truck rolls out, of course, we couldn’t accept it, and the body shop had to order and pay for a new rim and mounting of the tire. That cost them $275, plus the extra labor, not to mention some customer dissatisfaction.

That is one example from one day in an operation with more than 200 employees. The atmosphere there was mentally toxic and had been operated in that manner for almost 25 years.

How much money has been wasted due to the bad attitudes and indifference?

A Different Approach

In my last operation, our people worked well together. We would not hire anyone without taking the team into consideration and allowing the prospect to be interviewed by different, non-management team members.

I always made sure the employees knew that I was concerned about them. I would not over-hire, so our employees could get all the hours possible, and they knew the team needed them every day.

If I saw or heard about a personal issue affecting someone, I would attempt to interject myself and make sure the employee(s) involved got to a reasonable settlement quickly so the focus at work remained on work.

The gears of your “machine” have to mesh well together to help everyone’s attitude stay positive, and this requires attention from you, even if you are helping a team member deal with a problem at home. Spending a few minutes a day just visiting with different employees helped keep everyone more at ease.

Constant training of staff helps with their confidence and your knowledge of their desires, abilities and strengths. Using a coaching style of managing, that included crosstraining of personnel, helped my people know that if a mistake was made there wouldn’t be berating or punishment, but mentoring and more training.

The cross-training helped add “depth” to our team and also allowed everyone to experience how each position interacts within the operation.

Our employees worked hard and understood the decisions they made every day affected how the public perceived our business. I tried to include as many of our people in “teachable moments” as I could.

When an issue arose, everyone was brought together for an explanation of what took place and why it was good or bad for the customer (or employee) and our company.

I feel that if your people understand what is happening in your store and why you want certain responses to occur, your team will be more upbeat and proactive solving problems instead of just reacting to issues as they happen.

Final Thoughts

If your people dread coming to work, you are not getting the best performance from them. When you have an insanely busy day with everyone on their feet, running from one customer to the next, you should want your employees’ minds on doing what is right for your operation.

Right for our dealership meant satisfying those customers while maintaining a profit. For that to happen, everyone had to have a clear mind and be focused on their duties.

As a manager or owner, it’s what you do when it’s not busy that is important. Good procedures, personal involvement and trained people that work well together will help make your operation more manageable and profitable — not to mention a more enjoyable place to be each day.

Gene Daughtry is an experienced trainer and consultant specializing in BHPH/LHPH dealership operations. Daughtry now is director of BHPH operations for PLS Financial and has begun a multistate project of building new BHPH dealerships in several states. He has 17 years of BHPH experience. Follow Gene Daughtry on LinkedIn, go to his website, email him at gene@ or call (479) 970-4049 if you have questions.