On one of our recent surveys we asked our members what the biggest issues with employing and hiring technicians were. Two of the most selected answers concerned the time management skills of those technicians, specifically punctuality and time management. If you routinely deal with employees who are late to work or do not use their time wisely or complete their work in a timely fashion, are there any actions you can take as a manager to address these problems? Yes, there are.
First, all employees need to know what the expectations are with regard to arriving on time to work, staying for their full shifts, taking break time, and using work time for work only. This information needs to be in your employee manual repeated and regularly to your employees so that no one can claim ignorance about it. “I didn’t know” can’t be an excuse anyone can use in your auto repair shop.
Second, enforcement of tardiness, absenteeism, and time wasting rules needs to be a part of the systems you have in place. This means that no employee is exempt from the established consequences of bad time management. Employees will grumble endlessly if exceptions are made, so run everything by the book. If you have to discipline an employee for arriving late, make it clear that this is a result of the choices he made, rather than your annoyance or desire to control. This won’t alleviate all resentment, but it will focus that resentment on the rules and not the manager who is simply enforcing those rules. It will make your job less personally stressful too.
Sometimes employees do need help setting their internal clocks from “late” to “on time.” Asking your employees to keep an old-fashioned written time log can help them realize how much time they’re spending (or wasting) on certain tasks, how often they’re taking breaks, and what time they’re arriving or leaving. If they jot it down in black and white in their own handwriting, it’s hard to contradict that evidence later.
Finally, as with anything, it’s important to create incentives and disincentives to motivate your employees. Praise employees who make an effort and give rewards for completed time logs or zero missed days of work. People like to see that their efforts have been noticed. Introducing a little friendly competition at work never hurts either.
There will always be employees who have no respect for others’ time, and those are the people who will be weeded out by following the above suggestions. For the ones who need guidelines, help, and incentives, you can make a difference with good management.