Steps to Cultivate the Stand-Out Employee

Nov. 1, 2017

Finding the stand-out employee begins with the interview process and following the right steps to continue their success.

Finding the stand-out employee is necessary in most successful shops, but why wait around for an employee to step up when you can cultivate your own from the very beginning?

Kevin Wolfe, owner and president of LeadersWay, a business coaching and culture and leadership development company, says that finding the right talent from the very beginning can give you the stand-out employee that you’re looking for.

Wolfe, who was a shop owner for over 20 years, gives his insight on the proper steps to take in order to find and build your stand-out employee for future internal opportunities.

Selecting the right person gives you the right raw material to work with. You’re already separating yourself by taking the time and hiring somebody that’s not only right for the position but also has the horsepower and desire to learn. It all starts with an effective system for interviewing, which is really critical. That way you don’t miss things in a candidate. When you do have people applying for a position, we believe the first interview should always be on the phone, a screening interview. This way you’re not locking yourself into that hour only to find out that this person doesn’t align with what you’re looking for. The next two in-person interviews will then help you identify the appropriate employee with a good work ethic. We recommend a series of questions that would reflect the candidate’s comfort in working with a team, because teamwork is critical to any organization.

Once we've got the person of our choice on board, at this point, this person should have a dual-tracked, six-month development program to be revisited in six months. The first track is personal development. What does this person need to become a better teammate? What would we have them read? The second track is professional. What kind of training do they need for them to move where we want them to be in six months? Before the person hits the ground running, there needs to be a plan in place.

Qualities to look for in a stand-out employee include the following:

Embraces the team, not individualistic. This person goes overboard to make sure their teammates are supported. They don’t need the recognition that belongs to the team for themselves.

Has a willingness to learn. As a business and executive coach, the most important thing that we need in order to help people get better is a willingness to learn.

An ability to process. How do they take different components of what they’re doing and link them into a pattern so that they get it and execute it?

Follows the norms. This person doesn’t participate in backstabbing or talking negatively.

Positive attitude. They bring their best self to work everyday, from an energy and attitude perspective.

Once you’ve cultivated your stand-out employee, success planning for future promotion is a process we help organizations put together. It ends up being a one-page document that outlines the vision of your current and future position. It also outlines 3-5 items that the employee is going to have to work on in order for them to achieve that goal. The expectations need to be clearly defined, not vague. Whether it’s maintaining a 98 percent customer experience rate or ability to consistently bill 60 hours per week, whatever it happens to be, there are numbers and metrics so there is no ambiguity. You both need to mutually understand what it’s going to take.

When it comes to future opportunity, it should be something that’s revisited on a consistent basis. What that employee is learning, what they’re finding, what they like the most—how do we move them in that direction? I recommend looking at it in six-month intervals.

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