By Richard Belson
Sometimes, being successful in your career has nothing to do with how good you are at your job.
As you may already be well-aware of, many mechanics get into fixing and riding bikes because it gives us the time we need inside our own heads to get stuff figured out: mechanical problems, planning the next bike project, or just how to spend less time cooking and more time riding…
It’s this insular aspect to so many mechanics’ brains that can sometimes get between many really talented people and their economic and spiritual success at the shop.
While becoming efficient, learning new processes and systems, and being the best mechanic in the shop can give a mechanic a great sense of self-worth, periodically you need to get outside of yourself to demonstrate that worth to the folks who sign the paychecks.
To do this, you need to develop some empathy and
understanding for how the business operates.
Meaning, talk to the shop’s owner/manager – ask questions about labor rates and profit margins. Learn how they make the schedules they do, and gain a better understanding for why some of the decisions are made that don’t necessarily ONLY reflect on you.
But first, make it abundantly clear that you’re not gunning for their job.
Once that’s clear, let them know that you’re curious about some of the inner working s of how the shop operates so, when you have an idea for a new shop process, service, or product, you can inform your ideas with the context of what they’ve taught you.
Not only will this exercise help you be more valuable to the shop, it will also empower you with the understanding of why the people in charge make the decisions that they do. When you understand that better, you can self-manage better, and you can then potentially create pathways to your continued success with the company.
"Don’t forget, you’re not the first mechanic to feel stymied by shop management –shaking a fist, exclaiming 'They don’t know anything here! If they would just listen to me, this shop could be so much better!'"
If, after listening and learning why management decisions are made, you still feel your suggestions could improve upon the status quo, then is the time to discuss why, and potentially make a change for the better instead of accusing the rest of the world of not being as enlightened as you are.
If you sincerely invest your time and energy into listening and learning about the business, you’ll be amazed by how much it can alter how you do your job, and the progress it can infuse into your career.