Volume 8,  Issue 4                                   July/August  2006

View From The Driver's Seat
the retail manager's and owner's perspective

Life's Lessons Learned
by Jim Horrox

As we all know, life is a series of decisions we make. Some are good and some are not. Following the blizzard of events that have taken place in my career over the past three months, I’ve taken some time to reflect on what I’ve learned.

In my last column, I described some of the challenges I faced with the start-up of a new auto glass entity. I acknowledged the shortcomings and process “gaps” that take months to overcome, especially if the business is being built to last. While I’m no longer a part of that company, the lessons I learned in my brief tenure will always be a part of me. I’d like to share some of them with you. While you’ll find that my observations really apply in any industry, some are especially pertinent to our industry.

People First
• Any success is accomplished with people. It’s not achieved with computers, software, financials, marketing, “best practices,” etc. Sure, these elements are important, but at the end of the day, your money has to be your “human” resources.
• Hire people you trust, and let them do their jobs. Invest your efforts up-front in the selection process; perform the necessary due diligence before hiring. This is true for every potential associate. True, it’s more time-consuming, but nothing causes more trauma to an operation than the find a warm body/hire to fire employee churn approach.
• Nine out of ten associates want to play ball with you. Give them that chance. If you assume everyone is out to take advantage of you or your business, you don’t belong in management. The auto glass business is hard enough without creating internal adversity. 
• All clichés contain some truth. When you are hiring, recognize that for the people you are interviewing changing jobs is a risk. Be honest in terms of the employment while putting the job’s “best foot” forward. 
• Never allow yourself to become “moronized.” Whether you’re a glass technician, or a shop owner, or a CSR, you always must have the opportunity and ability to make a contribution to your organization. If you feel trapped, oppressed, unappreciated, or just generally dissatisfied, find a new organization or career. Life’s just too short. 

Ask the Question
In several of my past assignments, I have begun management meetings by asking this simple question: Is everyone in this room happy doing what you’re doing? 

If they are not, then establishing traction for success will be very difficult. While this inquiry may sound threatening, that isn’t the intent. After all, everyone deserves to be content in their work; don’t we owe that to our associates, and just as importantly, to ourselves? 

Jim Horrox is a principal with The JAM Alliance L.L.C., a management consultancy specializing in solutions through execution. He can be reached at Horrox@sbcglobal.net.

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