BMW April 2022

In the past few years through my Auto-Motivate training courses on mindset, management and leadership, I still see some age-old adages playing out in our industry. I’m referring to those situations where someone who has shown great skill and competency in their role, such as a paint technician or panel beaters with vast experience, suddenly elevated into the role of manager or supervisor.
What becomes clear quickly is that they have had almost zero management development training or coaching in the new position and its demands before the title and role is thrust their way. They know what is expected but have little awareness of what they will truly need to tackle this new post.
I’m sure many appointments are made with the greatest of intentions on both parts – owner and individual. Who wouldn’t want to be considered for a promotion of that kind? However, despite their core skills on the floor, the required soft skills in people management, control of costs, processes and outputs leaves most feeling desperately underqualified.
One key finding is they often thought it would only be an extension of their previous day job, with some extra responsibility, when suddenly there are aspects of the role they have never been trained for. It soon becomes a desperate ‘sink or swim’ scenario. The learning-on-the-job model creates huge distress and interruption between operatives and directors.
For many, managing people, conflicts, risks and one-to-one assessments has never been covered within the previous roles. The shift from teammate to manager can produce huge collateral damage.
Soon additional hours, effort and stress result. The job descriptions often never truly reflect the role and they also end up wearing multiple hats. Without clarity and definition, yet loaded with good intentions, the added or exposed gaps suddenly become their sole responsibility while on the journey of discovery.
We now have a tremendous opportunity for our industry, and for the future advancement of our most talented people to stop and plan more thoroughly the transitional development of those from a technician background into management or supervisory roles.
There are encouraging signs that more and more body shops, particularly those witnessing growth, are quickly seeing who within the team can be fast-tracked, but for some fast-tracking is not the ideal option. The necessary training can be delivered, but it must be given time to develop and operate in all its mental and physical aspects. This is not achieved by placing the person in the role before the training is delivered.
However, if this proves to be the only option, then provision must be made for the training time needed to embed the learning and development.
We are once again witnessing a new generation of body shops and owners that are back on track to showcase themselves and the world as first-class facilities. Let’s make sure we take our best talent and help them equally transition safely into becoming top class managers and supervisors. The investment will deliver those results … so educate, don’t just elevate.