Find a Wrench

What my Son taught me through Cartoons – 5 ways to understand what people want

Shop Management tips learned from a television show.

For those of you that are parents, you know about how your children tend to become drawn to  toys, cardboard boxes and certain television shows. My wife and I have a 2 year old, and he is no different than other children. He has two go-to shows. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Puppy Dog Pals. If you’ve had the pleasure of watching these shows, you understand how the intro songs become engrained into your brain. In fact, I’ve got the start to Puppy Dog Pals running through my head as I write!

At this point, you have to be saying, why in the hell is Jay writing about cartoons. Well, I felt the need to write about it after watching an episode of Puppy Dog Pals with my son that helps paint a picture for our business.

I’ll start by explaining the show for those of you that don’t know who I’m talking about. The show is about a creepy guy named Bob that has some fairly adventurous dogs. When Bob leaves the house, these pug dogs travel all over the world to solve problems.

In this particular episode, the dogs were taking a trip to Madagascar to help their Aunt keep some lemurs from causing trouble. Their trip focused on keeping the lemurs occupied by playing with them. They started packing up their toys and we’re headed to Madagascar when their housemate cat stopped them. She asked if they wanted to play with her toy mouse and the dogs looked confused. The dogs then tossed a ball up and were surprised when the cat didn’t seem overly excited. She then learned that they were packing up their toys to head to Madagascar and distract the lemurs.

This is where the lesson and relevancy to what we do with shops and Mechanics came into play…the cat said, “Just because you find it fun to play with the ball, doesn’t mean that the lemurs are going to find it fun, too!”.

As much as I hate this show and this cat, she is spot on when it comes to selling and recruiting. Just because you like something a certain way, doesn’t mean that everybody is going to see it the same way. If you’re a shop that is trying to find employees of any type, you have to keep this in mind and adapt accordingly.

It’s easy to paint a picture that one size fits all but that’s far from the truth. One Tech may be driven by money, another by your training program and yet another by your shop configuration or tooling. To make things even more difficult, generation and gender gaps are continually changing the way that individuals see things. I’m one of the few that think that none of the generations are wrong in the way they see things…not even the Millennials! None are wrong but they are all different. It’s important to understand that as it’s not going to ever change.

So, what can you do to combat this? It’s simple. Listen!

You do this in a number of different ways. Here are just a few of my favorites…

  1. Survey them – More of a big company thing but can be adaptable to smaller companies. Try using a service like SurveyMonkey to do it…and then do it consistently. I recommend quarterly to
  2. One on one meetings – At FAW, we perform weekly one on ones with our team. I highly recommend these as long as they are candid.
  3. Town Hall Meetings – More of a monthly or quarterly type meeting to talk as a team. Put together an agenda to give them updates of where you are as a company and ask for feedback.
  4. Manage by Walking Around – This, to me, is the most effective. We are primarily a remote company, so I don’t get to do this as much. For most of our connections, which are shops, this might be the number one way of gauging the temperature of your employees. You can typically feel whether things are good or not in a walkaround like this. Definitely recommend being intentional about this.
  5. Care – Lastly, you need to care. I’m not talking about saying you care so you can hang your core values on a wall. I’m talking about truly understanding and sympathizing with people as people. Don’t look down on them. You need to care about their well-being and actually believe it. If you don’t, I’m a firm believer that your staff can feel that. I’ve worked for people like that in the past and it’s not fun.

I’d love to hear others Management tips on understanding what people want. I’m certainly not perfect but these are my favorite tips to pass along!