Running a Shop Leadership

Relationships and Misunderstandings

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Your employee walks into your office. You’ve known each other for years. He would never leave you. But he walks in, and tells you that he’s done.

There’s no way to talk him out of his decision.

You can’t believe it.

After the fact, you do some digging and find out there were some things you said that offended him, and you didn’t even realize it.

One of the biggest reasons you missed is because there is no open communication in your company. You think there is, but there really isn’t.

As you dive in and get further and further into it, you find out that the real problem is the lack of communication—everything is left up to interpretation.

A lack of open communication leaves us with what we think a person is thinking, and what they think we’re thinking. We already have misunderstandings when we do communicate, so imagine how large those misunderstandings can become when we don’t communicate.

Well, let’s go back to that long-term employee who quit. He left to go make $70,000 at a different shop—even though he makes $80,000 per year at your shop. Here’s where the misunderstanding comes into play: That employee thinks he only makes $50,000 per year.

How is that possible?

The employee went home, gave his check to his wife, and solely looked at take home pay. He didn't understand gross pay, or his pay plan because you only explained it to him once at the beginning of the relationship, and never rehashed it out for fear of him asking for a raise. This all resulted in the bitterness growing until it became a huge issue, and soon, he left you.

Over and over, I keep seeing employees that think one thing, while their boss thinks another.

You can see it coming if you're looking for it, but most people don’t see it. They just want to believe that everything is great and nothing is wrong. But the reality is, there are huge issues that no one is talking about.

I encounter this situation all of the time when I go into repair shops. I’ll sit down and start talking to an employee, they dump all this stuff on me, and I go, “Have you said that to your boss?”

Then I’ll talk to the owner, who will tell me a bunch of stuff and I’ll say, “Have you said this to your employee?”

And it turns out that the employee has said something to the boss, but it was never what the employee intended.

Because of this lack of communication, and the lack of wanting to face the music, this stuff just starts to compound and become more and more ridiculous. As it becomes more and more ridiculous, it becomes more and more out of hand.

We have misunderstandings running amok in the business.

The whole business is run off of nonverbal communication, with handshake deals that never had a handshake, understandings that never had an agreement signed, contracts that one party signed and the other one never knew existed. All this fake agreement is what we base our whole company and culture off of .It’s not real. No one ever talked and nobody ever repeated back what they thought they heard.

I have seen more employees leave businesses because of hurt feelings than anything else.

One of the No. 1 ways you can start to clear this up, is to just walk out to the employee and talk to them. Ask them what’s going on, and then just stop talking. Let them talk, let them babble, don’t look at your watch—let them repeat themselves until you finally hear something you've never heard before. Then, when they feel like they can trust you and you didn't blow up on them, hopefully the next conversation they'll tell you a little bit more, and then a little bit more.

We all have to remember: If we lose employees emotionally, we’re about to lose them physically.

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