Posted to Shop Management Forum on 8/14/2012
Re: accountability question
I'm going to guess that you're asking this as an "in
general" question as there aren't really enough details here
to weigh in on anything specific. So...
Back in my instructional design days with Ford and GM when
we would do a training needs analysis, we essentially asked
three questions to determine if a performance
problem was training related or not - those three
questions were (and still are):
1) Can he? 2) May he? 3) Will he? (or she as the case may be
The "can he" question relates to skills, knowledge, and
tooling. Does the person know what he needs to know? Does he
have the skills to do what he needs to do? Does he have the
tools necessary to do what he needs to do?
The "may he" question relates to the environment. Management
and/or workplace cultures sometimes stand in the way of
someone doing the right thing the right way. Most of us have
seen examples of this. Peers who ridicule or tease a guy for
being careful and 'following the book' when no one else
does; or managers who like to throw their weight around and
criticize a guy just because.
The "will he" question can be a bit complicated. It might
relate to a management or workplace culture concern, pay
scale/plan, or personal reasons. In either case, it's the
deliberate decision to not do something a certain way even
though he knows better and has all the tools to do so.
So, which is it with your SA? And I caution you not to jump
to a quick conclusion here. The answer might not be so
obvious or even one-dimensional. It's not unusual for two or
all three of these to be in play. People are complicated
creatures, and relationships are complicated matters.
In any case, it more or less boils down to this... People
are people. They make mistakes, they have bad days, and they
can be irritable for any number of reasons. No one is
perfect, and even the best have their bad moments. So what
are you going to do? Fire him? If that's your first
instinct, it won't be long before you run out of people to
fire. Chew him out? Does that ever really work?
I wish I had a simple answer for you, but again, people are
anything but simple. I think patience, calm, and
understanding is the key. That doesn't mean, as a boss, that
you hide or disguise your feelings, in fact just the
opposite, I think if you're disappointed and dissatisfied
it's okay to express those feelings, in a calm and rational
manner that shows genuine concern for the other person. It's
called assertiveness (not to be mistaken as aggressiveness)
and speaking the truth, in love.
I don't mean to make anyone uncomfortable with my using the
"L" word, but seriously, are employees more likely to want
to please and serve a boss that they feel genuinely cares
about them (yes, loves them) or one that sees them only as a
robot there to do a job?
I've rambled on a lot and maybe I've made some sense and
been helpful, maybe not. I hope this is at least somewhat
In closing I'll just add, talk to the guy. Ask for the
details, and listen. Invite his criticisms and ask him how
he thinks things should be done in the future. Let him have
some measure of control. Empower him, and establish a
culture where it's okay to be human and make mistakes.
Yeah, this will take some effort. Yeah, it will require some
time. No, it's not likely to be easy. But it's probably the
right thing to do.
Best wishes as you move ahead.
MDH Automotive Services
Richville, Michigan, USA