Education is Expensive

“Education is expensive”. An old boss of mine used to tell me that. Have you heard that before?

Several years ago, I was the service manager of a VW dealership. We had an amazing team, one I am very proud of. We worked hard to create a culture of accountability that lead to great success. I had inherited most of the staff, and with customer satisfaction the center for our focus, we all grew together.

After beating the previous year’s numbers for twelve consecutive months, I was given the opportunity to move up in the company and run the Honda dealership across the street in addition to the VW store. This was a decision I didn’t take lightly. I was worried about the added stress it would have on my family, but I felt it would be a smooth transition because I had such a good team in place to succeed without me.

The move to Honda taught me a lesson that cost me dearly.

My shop foreman, the manager of the technicians in the shop, had been a great asset to me as a manager. I felt he would be the best person to replace me. While he may not have known exactly what I did every day, I always included him on important decisions. My plan was to train him as I moved into the Honda store and made the necessary changes there. As you can imagine, that plan failed miserably. Two things happened that I believe are fundamental problems in companies all over the country.

My first failure was underestimating how much time the new department would demand from me. I figured it would be a tough transition, but no one was trained and ready for the changes at Honda. I had my hands full. With my time fully invested at Honda, my new manager at VW struggled. I assumed since we worked so closely that he just knew what to do. I never took the time to train him all the job encompassed, what was expected of him, and the responsibilities he now had.

Too many times a manager, regardless of career type, will leave a position and the best performing employee just moves into that spot. With the manager gone who is left to train? Usually no one, and the staff suffers. Most importantly the customers suffer, it is always painfully obvious when this happens.

My second failure was one I never even considered until it was too late. When I promoted my foreman, we of course had to replace him. I completely took for granted what he did as my right-hand man, an oversight that he shared with me. My new manager was now put in an impossible situation. He not only had to replace the leadership I instilled, he had to teach himself his new role, and he had to train his replacement all at the same time. So now the new manager and the new shop foreman had no training, they were set up to fail.

I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”  – Muhammad Ali

We have a broken system, we are so quick to throw employees into action that they never receive the proper training needed. Then when the employees struggle we get upset. We need to look to ourselves as managers when an employee fails. Did we set them up to succeed? We all need to be prepared and confident for each task. Ask yourself this week, do your employees have the training they need?

If you are an employee, do you have the proper training needed to do your best? If not, take it upon yourself to get equipped and empower yourself for success. Education is expensive, training comes at a cost, we need to sacrifice and spend the time because the reward is too great.

One thought on “Education is Expensive

  1. Great article Evan, the unfortunate part is that in this industry it has been that way for over 30 years. Unless we make an effort to change it, it will continue that way. I suppose we could call it job security. Sad!!


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