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Jared Hamilton
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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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People are Silently Dissatisfied with Their Jobs in Your Store

Ever felt unhappy with your career? Of course, you have at times. But we’re talking today about a deeper type of job dissatisfaction than having a bad day or a rough week.

Over the Labor Day weekend, the business research group The Conference Board released details of a recent survey. In the American workforce, job satisfaction has risen to its highest rate since 2005. It’s a promising trend – that is, until you look at the scores.

The Conference Board discovered that 51 percent of Americans are satisfied with their jobs or careers, up from 49.6 percent three years ago. Let that sink in for a second, and think about how it relates to the dealership you’re in right now.

Of every two people you work with, one of them isn’t happy about their work. In a 50-person service department team, 25 people would rather do something different with their life to the point that they say their dissatisfied. That may even be you.

How Can You Discover Who Is Dissatisfied at Work?

There are those typical indicators like a bad attitude and poor performance. For service advisors, you might notice a decline in work orders written while in a technician you could find a higher rate of comeback repairs. But these could be attributed to other things such as problems in their home life.

The best way to find out who loves their job and who struggles to find satisfaction in their work is this: ASK!

If you’re in a management position, and assuming you are satisfied with your work, it’s incumbent upon you to find out if the people on your team want to be on your team. It can feel personal when people tell you they’d rather be doing something else, but it usually isn’t – it’s a matter of personal development more than anything.

Once you know if people aren’t happy doing what they’re doing, what can YOU do about it?

Ever Considered Cross-Training?

No, not like CrossFit. I’ve written before about each person training for the role above them, much like the military does. And that might be the case with your staff; that simply training for advancement will provide the fulfillment they want out of life.

But the automotive retail industry is unique in its structure. There are different positions within departments as well as between departments. It’s possible that simply exposing someone to another role will provide satisfaction, or it might help them appreciate the role they have. I’ve lived it – here are some of the cross-training opportunities I’ve had:

  • As a high-school graduate, I started washing cars, then cross-trained as a shuttle driver.
  • As a shuttle driver, I cross-trained as a service advisor until I was ready to take on the job.
  • As a service advisor, I learned the role of dispatcher (we called it tower operator, but no tower), then took on that role when it became vacant.
  • Then a couple years later, back to service advisor, with exposure to the sales floor on weekends. A year and a half of selling later, I settled into the service advisor role.
  • Learning a bunch as an advisor, I had an opportunity to be a service manager for a time. Finding it wasn’t a good fit, I went back to the advisor role yet again.

I know, it seems all over the place. But job dissatisfaction was handled by my management well, allowing me opportunities to try new things and, ultimately, discover which role fit me best at the time.

The Bottom Line

Job dissatisfaction is a major problem still, and The Conference Board doesn’t foresee it getting much better in the near future. Don’t lose your staff to opportunities elsewhere because you don’t know they’re unhappy right now. Talk openly with your staff and see if there’s a way to keep your good people within the store, and in a role they thoroughly enjoy. Cross-training might be the ticket.

Leeann Miller

I love that job dissatisfaction is being faced in such a positive way. Employee retention is so important and much less costly to any company than high turnover.  Kudos on a great article!

Ian Coburn

The point you make to cross-train is a great idea. A lot of times, the only staff that even get any training, is sales. If you only train sales, don't think the rest of your team doesn't notice and feel unvalued. Find a way to include them, too. Good examples on how to do so, Jason. Thanks for sharing your story, in particular.

R. J. James

Jason... THANKS for candidly sharing your career journey.  Unfortunately, many dealerships take a linear view / approach to developing people.  Too often, this results in prompting based on "Functional Excellence" (i.e., A Great Sales Consultant being promoted to Sales Manager or a Great Service Advisor being promoted to Service Manager.)


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