The Path to a Winning Shop Culture

Nov. 1, 2017

Understanding your current shop culture to make the necessary changes to better your work environment for yourself and your employees.

John McClune, manager of European Edge of Thomasville, Ga., has a very simple model for crafting a stellar staff culture: If you respect them as human beings, then they’re more willing to stay late or help out a fellow tech, even if they don’t get paid for it.

While it may seem simple, McClune has found that the little things matter, like talking to your staff nicely and giving deserved praise boosts morale in a way that helps run a successful business.

And Jim Webber, a human resources professional and founder of Jim Webber Training, Consulting and Investigations, agrees. A winning shop culture starts with basic respect for human beings—the most important sentiment that McClune echoes in his shop.

But what does the foundation of a successful shop culture look like? Webber and McClune give some tips on mistakes to look out for and what you need to do to provide the best possible environment for your employees.

Evaluate the State of Your Culture

Webber has had a lot of experience doing investigations for companies where an HR personnel or an employment attorney will ask him to visit a business to explore an HR-related issue, whether it be harassment or similar types of misconduct.

It can be difficult to identify the shortcomings of your company’s culture. Ask yourself the following questions to determine the current state of your shop’s culture:




Is there high turnover?


Is there an “us vs. them” environment, cliques or a lot of negative gossip?


Is there a lack of basic respect?


Are there attendance problems among staff?


Are you or your managers doing reviews on a regular basis?


Does your staff have the appropriate information to do their jobs?


Do your employees treat customers with the respect you expect?


If you have several locations and a central management system (as opposed to a single shop set up), does the management team visit the other locations?


Are you dealing with those employees that are poor influences on other?


Are you following your own policies, as outlined in the employee handbook?



Address the Biggest Issues

Once you’ve identified the problems in your shop, it’s time to evaluate what you need to turn your shop culture around.

Webber says that the most important thing is to understand that building a positive shop culture takes time, especially since it may have taken months for the problems to be created. You need to recognize that you will not see results immediately, so your follow-through on implementation is crucial.

But in order to turn your shop around, the following qualities need to be instilled in your shop and you as a leader, according to Webber:

1) Practice patience. For McClune, he finds that taking the time to sit and discuss issues with his staff makes the difference. He sees employees as a source of information, whether that’s for newest trends or ideas on improving efficiency. Being patient with staff keeps everyone happy.

2) Set expectations in a clear way. Do you have a harassment policy and code of conduct policy? When was the last time that you talked to your employees about it? If you have a policy that states you give people you give people a verbal warning before a written warning? Then actually do it. Talk to the employees before discipline is required.

McClune knows that his guys like to have fun and goof off at times, but he only allows that because his staff knows not only where to draw the line, but also when it’s time to get serious. He says that they can kid back and forth, but boundaries still exist.

3) Establish open communication. Webber says that if you don’t have a way for people to communicate with you, you need to set that up.

McClune uses Facebook Messenger to get all his guys in one group message chain. He says it’s a great way to give praise at the end of a hard work day, or address any concerns he had with the group as a whole.

4) Have a system in place to report problems. A lot of times in smaller shops, there is only one manager, so staff members don’t feel comfortable complaining about management, since that would typically be the logical person to report issues to. Webber recommends having a way for your staff to do so if it’s needed.

5) Properly train everyone. Make clear among how to treat fellow employees, your brand’s values, etc.

6) Establish a safety program. Make sure to address if there are any hazards for your employees. If employees see that no one cares, it will not help the morale of the shop.

7) Promote a clean, organized environment. Is the shop clean and organized? Is the break area comfortable enough for your staff to have that moment they need during the day? Webber finds that the nicer the shop, the better the moods of the people working there are.

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