Potential Employees

How Do Potential Employees Find Careers in Today’s World?

Through the past month or so Ed Gordon has been exposing his Job Shock series. A very sobering critique of the labor market and the potential employees out there today. Most of the dealers that I talk with these days are extremely concerned with their inability of being able to find and hire qualified people for their job openings. In fact, job openings are growing and the ability to find anyone is getting very difficult.

There are elaborate, and in some cases rather exotic, “packages” being created to induce people to join a dealership. Signing bonuses and retention bonuses have almost become ordinary for technicians anymore. And what about management and succession planning? It appears that the leaders in our Industry between the ages of 55 and 75 have paid more attention to their own compensation packages than to the ability of their companies to smoothly transition to the next generation. There was, generally speaking, no succession in place.

If we go backwards to a period in the twentieth century between 1920 and 1940, we have a serious economic depression which was preceded by the “roaring” economy. From the 1950’s through the 1960’s we had a slow growth and stabilization after the world war. The “greatest generation” was frugal and family oriented. Then the 1960’s and the beginning of “laissez faire” attitudes and the slogan of “if it feels good do it.” Coincidentally, they saw the arrival of a credit card and the decoupling of monetary policy from the gold standard. The rate of change was rather gentle but a foundation was being laid for the coming years.

In those previous generations there were typically five different stages in the career of an employee. It was predictable and iterative.

  • Exploration
  • Establishment
  • Middle Career
  • Late Career

Those terms are all rather self-explanatory and the transitions from one to another were also quite simple to see and obtain. It was a matter of increasing skills and knowledge, through schooling and training and experience. If you get that done then you will have opportunities for progress in your career.

There is another change, or transition going on now. Today more and more businesses think they hire talent and that is all that is required. If there needs change the employee is let go and a new one is hired. There is no need to train their employees or send them off to schools and classes. Similarly, today’s employees think that once they get a job, they are done with the need to continue learning or improving their skills.

Think about both of those positions in the world we live in today. Consider the rate of change, which is on a very steep exponential curve. It is actually amazing to contemplate that people think that they can stay in place with your skills and knowledge and not need to be continuously learning. Similarly, for a business not to be investing in their key contributors is just as amazing. What are they both thinking about?

There is a quotation from Goethe that I appreciate. “Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.”

A Skilled Workforce – the thing that matters most. Is being held hostage to Investing in Employee Development – the thing that matters least.

A Skilled Workforce, the employees I call your heroes, is required to serve your customers and satisfy your vendors. Without these heroes the dealership is in jeopardy. We have seen in the last thirty of so years a stunning level of consolidation. In part due to the need for vast amounts of capital to support the businesses. This is due, in large part, to the rapid run up prices for the equipment and products sold. There was also a need to invest in “systems” that were necessary to operate the business properly. Imagine, if you will, managing a parts inventory using a manual card system, the Kardex.

Now we are in our current market. There is a shortage of skilled people required to operate the businesses. The Universities and other education institutions are not delivering job ready skilled people as they once did. Capital Goods Dealerships are required to establish apprentice programs and mentoring or coaching new employees. Employees are having to adapt to the fact that their skills and knowledge will be measured with more precision and regularity. There is no easy path to more money or opportunity anymore. A true meritocracy is in its infancy. But make no mistake it is coming and more quickly than we can imagine today.

Learning Without Scars has responded to these changes and transitions due to the fact that we have listened to our customers. They have told us that they wanted to be able to measure the skills of their employees to determine what training is required to have the employee become more effective in their work. We have created the Job Function Skill Assessments as a result. These objective assessments have a score which determines the functional capabilities of each employee. Objectively. No opinions or favoritism or nepotism. These scores categorize the skills into four different levels; Developing, Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced. We have processed several thousand of these assessments to date, and have less than 2% of the employees in the Advanced skill level. We have found slightly more than 50% of the employees have a Beginning Skill Level. The employees were able to do the job they were taught to do. Process Orders but they didn’t know how to sell. Employees could do the repairs they were told to do but had few if any Diagnostic Skills. They could place Stock Orders that the system created but they didn’t know how to expedite for shortages, like the supply chain issues we have today. And there are as many more examples as there are tasks to perform. At Learning Without Scars we have also created Subject Specific Classes to allow each employee to overcome the “gaps” in their skills. This is the appropriate tool for skills and knowledge development for the needs of today.

Go to our Podcasts and listen to the audio explanation of the Job Specific Assessments ( as well as the Subject Specific Classes  ( That will provide you with all you need to know to be able to take advantage of these “up-to-date” business tools designed to help in the development of your employees skills and knowledge.

It is more than important for your success, that you have a skilled and trained workforce, it is critical. As they say you have to “have the right people on the bus” to get to your destination.

The time is now.

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How to Use Assessments

How to Use Assessments

Yesterday we addressed the Foundation of Learning. Today I want to talk about how we envisioned businesses using our Job Function Skills Assessment. Let’s quickly review what we say on the Landing Page for Assessments.

We point out four areas in which to use our Skill Assessments

  1. Recruiting: The assessments can be used in recruiting employees. In conjunction with background checks and interviews, the assessment gives you much more information on the applicants before they are hired. Hiring the “right” someone is extremely difficult to do. The assessment provides the Company hiring the individual an objective view of the skills of the prospective employee.


  1. Performance Reviews: The assessments should also be used in the annual performance review with each employee. Other than the reviews I give myself I have never received a formal performance review as an employee. I believe that performance reviews are a terrific opportunity to discuss with the employee what is necessary for the employee to do to become better at what they do and open up more opportunities for them in the Company.


  1. Wages and Salaries: The assessments can even be used as an objective foundation related to the establishment of the wages and salaries paid to the employees. We have had several thousand people take our assessments since the beginning of 2017 and we have a high degree of confidence that our skill levels are in line with the actual performance of the employees. This provides a foundation for the proper wage and salary scales and progressions through the scales to be objectively managed.


  1. Employee Development: The assessments have been developed to be used to create individualized employee development programs for each employee in the parts and service business teams. A career path for each employee in the Parts, Service, Selling or Marketing groups allows talented people to be motivated to achieve their potential. With the Skill Levels from the assessments and the Learning Paths tied to them this becomes a real possibility within these teams of people.


Attracting, Hiring, Developing and Retaining talented, motivated employees is the MOST critical of all aspects of your business. With the right people you will prevail. Without them you will FAIL.


The choice is yours.


The time is now.

The Virtual Classroom Programs

Virtual Classroom – The VCR Programs

For those of you following this blog or students of our classes, you are well aware of our offerings. The LOD – Learning On Demand which is a series of subject specific classes. These are the building blocks for all of our learning programs. Then there is the job specific series of classes, the PSP Planned Specific Programs. Next is the leadership series within the PLP Planned Learning Programs. Finally, we come to the Virtual Classroom Programs the VCR’s.

We announced last year that the VCR programs would be kicked off in 2020. Well here we are. In April we will be delivering on our promise and put the VCR programs into the market.

Each VCR consists of five subject classes. There are three levels of these programs. This is for up and coming employees, people who can offer more than the traditional employee. The “fast track” employees. Their learning is rounded out with a PLP on Final Staging. Watch our short video below explaining this exciting program.

The Time is now.



Finally, the Employees!

These past three weeks, I have been walking you through our “Back to the Basics” overview.  We have covered the Balanced Scorecard, the Stakeholders, and now we have arrived at our final segment.  Finally, we are going to take a look at the employees.

Importantly, the last major step on the Back to Basics road is the Employees. This is the group of talented hard working engaged people that do the work in your company. How are they treated?

This is not about salaries and wages, or the benefits your company offers. It is not even about working conditions. Those are fundamentals that will be de-motivators if they are not in line with the marketplace and even a touch higher. No, it is about what the employee sees as their opportunity to progress in the company. What is required to get to the next step in their careers? What do they have to do to earn more money?

When an employee performance review takes place is this a staple of the discussion between the direct supervisor and the employee? One of those subjects should be “What do I need to do to get more money?” This is a critical element in employee satisfaction and that leads to employee retention.

The biggest challenge facing every business today is attracting and hiring and retaining talented people. At the moment there are 7,000,000 jobs that are open in the US. Seven Million! Unemployment today in the US is 4.1%

Where are we going to find these employees?

Today there is some challenge in the view that the “older generation” has of the “younger generation.” They don’t have the same work ethic that we had is a comment I hear all the time. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have to open our minds to employees. We have to create career paths for talented people. We have to challenge our employees to get better at what they do. We have to embrace the Japanese approach of Kaizen – continually improving what we do.

As an educator, I taught education for six years at University, and I had some power over the students in that they needed to pass the course to get their degree. On the job we start having trouble. I reference again Patrick Lencioni in his book “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job.” These three signs are Anonymity, Irrelevance and Immeasureability.

Employees should be able to control their own destiny. They should know what the job is and how their performance is measured. This measurement should be objective and the employee and the employer should know how the measurement is done, where the data comes from, and what calculations are involved. It should be so clear that the employee can measure their own performance themselves. Daily, if possible. How well do you do on that basic element?

Then we arrive at employee development. Each employee should have a defined career path. They should understand and accept that this is their opportunity. There should also be a clear employee development plan. We offer help in this area within Learning Without Scars. We have a “Dealer Profile” that we ask our clients to complete.  This Dealer Profile identifies the numbers of employees in parts and service and product support selling by job category. Then we create an employee development program for each job function. We have a three-year program for most major tasks: in-store selling, parts office, warehousing, service inspectors, service writers, service foremen, and service office. We also offer management and supervision training.

So welcome aboard the Back to Basics train. Don’t forget we have to deliver results: for our customers, our employees, our owners, and suppliers.

Ignore this at your peril.

The time is now.

Back to the Basics: Your Customers

For the last month we have been discussing change and the fact that although it is causing us anxiety it also creates opportunities for the talented, curious, ambitious and hard-working people in our businesses.

Let’s get our heads out of the clouds and return to the dirt. Let’s get back to basics. What is troubling is that many of us don’t remember what that means. What are the basics?

Let me start at the beginning: it all starts with customers.


Without your customers you have nothing.


How do you think you customers view you? Do you know their perceptions of your business? We use the “Balanced Scorecard” as one of the fundamental tools to help our clients to develop and manage their business. It is also an LOD (Learning On Demand) product in our training business

The Balanced Scorecard, from our perspective, starts with the customer. What are the needs and wants, the expectations that our customers have of us? That is where we start. We use an employee training session as the vehicle, we suggest these programs happen eight times a year and take an hour and a half each. We have all the parts employees or service employees or both together and ask them to make a list of what the customers want.

Don’t interfere, don’t editorialize, and don’t have your thoughts dominate the room – remember EQ here. The leader should always speak last and listen first. Then, after the list is completed you will have similar points on the list. Narrow the list down to a list of unique items.

The following month we have a group of customers come in and we ask them the same questions in front of the same group of employees who made the original list. Don’t interfere with their list. Listen carefully. Make notes and make sure that your customers agree with the list you have created from listening to them.

After this, we have a third meeting where we reconcile the two lists. How similar were they? Which items are the most important? Pick the top five. Then call the customers back and ask if they agree with the top five list. If they do then you can go to the next step. The next step in the Balanced Scorecard for us is Internal Excellence. What do we need to excel at in order to satisfy the customer? This is the first step on the Back to Basics road.

This is just the first portion of what we must do to achieve customers for life.

The time is now.