The Power of Kudos' or At-A-Boys

Maybe you started out as a one man operation, as a lot of us did.  But then you started getting behind….further and further until you decided you needed to hire someone to help with the day-to-day operations.  Whether that person or persons were hired as Technicians, Service Writers, or Shop Helpers, in almost every case we needed someone else to help us grow our business.  This article is about them, those individuals we call, employees!

As a former employee as many of you have been, most of us were dedicated to the owner and the business.  For the purposes of this article, these are the employees we will be talking about.  Certainly there are those employees who jump from shop to shop, job to job simply looking for the next best thing.  We all have or currently know these types, but this really isn’t about them.  This is about the employees who care, who show an interest in the business and are with us for more than a simple place to be.  Are all of your employees 110% dedicated to you and your business?  Probably not, AND that does not necessarily indicate he/she is a bad employee.  It simply indicates that they have other interests in life (and should) than your facility.  Once again, this is being written to outline the approximately 85% of all employees who by design, are loyal, give you 7--8 hours worth of work in an 8 hour day (not necessarily produced!), and occasionally may only work hard enough to not draw attention to themselves while still producing.

As a full time Automotive Consultant, the biggest issue (by far, number1!) between owners/managers and employees that we see everyday is that the owner/manager will without fail bust someone’s butt for doing something wrong, but almost never gives them kudos’ for doing something right.  “It’s their job to do it right or I pay them to do it right” you say, and you’re right, but as Human Beings we all “need” to hear “good job, or Thanks” now and again!  It’s this double standard that creates dissention within your facilities!  I know, as you sit here and read this you’re thinking, “I tell them all the time that they’re doing a good job”….and maybe “you” do!  But take just a moment and think about the last time you did.  Was it more than 24 hours ago, maybe 36 or better?  If so, then you are not seeing Kudos’ for the value they have!

Human nature almost dictates the need on some level to have other people recognize us for what we’ve done or accomplished.  Even the hardest, most thick skinned individuals require some level of recognition to keep them excited about who they are, or what they do for a living.  It’s this lack of recognition through Kudos’ or At-A-Boys that we (consultants) see, “high production Technicians” (superstars) turned into “produced as usual” Mechanics.  It’s the constant chewing on their backsides without ever pumping them back up that leads them to move on to other facilities.  Or quit the industry all together, and it could be the same reason that the rate of employees suing owners continues to go up exponentially year after year.  I would even go so far as to say that many owners have paid more in wages than they may have had to by throwing money at an employee instead of Kudos’.  In fact, most employees we’ve spoken with over the years have admitted to us that Kudos’ are more valuable in a lot of cases than more money is.  This is not to say that they don’t or shouldn’t be interested in making more money, but it is not generally the first thing an employee needs to perform to their best at his/her job!

I know you believe you are giving Kudos’, every owner/manager does.  I’m here to tell you that the general perception from your employees is, you don’t.  Sure, it’s only their perception, but perception is the difference to each and everyone of them, so don’t take the statement lightly.  It is an issue, and it is happening in your facility too!

Lets talk quickly about Kudos’ then, and look at a couple must or must not do’s within the process of giving them. 

  • First and foremost, make every Kudos sound and feel sincere.  Insincerity will do more to hurt the relationship and the employees self esteem than not ever saying anything at all—BE SINCERE!
  • Try and praise or give Kudos’ in the presence of others as this can sometimes bolster the benefit (feel better about him/herself) from them.  An employee with high self esteem will always produce better than one who thinks less of himself.
  • If there are reasons for criticism or correction, NEVER do it in front of other employees as this will break any potential bond between the employee and the owner or other employees down faster than anything you could do.  And generally speaking once that bond is broken, the employee becomes FAR less productive at his/her job!
  • Find something everyday to praise your employee(s) for, even if it is a small as simply coming in on time today.  Face it, there are days when nothing an employee has done is right.  He/she already knows it, but by trying to pump them up a little (in this case at the end of the day) you and the company will always benefit from the increase in self esteem that comes from finding positives and delivering them appropriately.

Kudos’ build self esteem, high self esteem builds happier employees, and happier employees produce at significantly highly levels.  So what did it cost you to get higher productivity levels……..a pat on the back, a simple Thank You.  Doesn’t that seem worth the effort?  We spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to bring customers in our doors every year, then we let potentially unhappy employees work with them.  Does this makes sense to anyone?  Keeping your employees happy through simple things like Kudos’ or At-A-Boys is an easy effective way to add/build more profit in your bottom line!

Kudos’ cost nothing, foster good will, and build happy employees.  What are you waiting for?!