Keeping and Building a Winning Team in the New Normal

In talking with other Recyclers and business owners, there seems to be a common problem. That is: they need additional employees but cannot seem to find them. If you look at the beginning of the pandemic, there were massive layoffs and business closures. Most of these people wanted to work, but could not.

As this pandemic is winding down, things are starting to gradually get back to normal. Businesses are reopening, but they cannot seem to find people to do the work. The big problem, as I see it, is that people are getting paid enough to get by without having to work. So, with the government basically supporting them, why should they?

Our industry was lucky because we were determined to be essential. We were fortunate that we were all able to work and not miss a beat. In fact, after the first couple of months we enjoyed an increase in business, with many recyclers putting up record sales numbers. While credit should be given to your employees for showing up and putting forth the effort, this pandemic did not suddenly turn your team into loyal and dedicated employees. Weren’t they the same before this happened?

I have had people in other businesses telling me that they cannot find qualified help. Yes, this is the case. The best approach would be, in order to have a good team, you need to build it from the top, down. You have to have the ability and the resources to train and develop new talent. I can tell you firsthand that I would rather take someone with no experience and train them my way than to hire someone that has been in the industry, and now I am faced with two tasks. One is to untrain them, and then train them my way.

When you hire, hire character, not characters. If a person has good character, they usually have all of the good qualities that come with it: dependability, work ethic, and honesty. Remember: when hiring a new employee, you can teach them the job, but you cannot fix bad character. Also remember that any new employee is only going to be as good as you make them. Proper training is a must. It is also costly, but so is turnover. So, choose, hire and train people with the intent that they will be with you for a long time. A friend of mine is struggling with finding employees in another business, and he asked me how I got such a good team? I told him that I picked the right people and I gave them the tools, the training, and the resources needed to do their job to the best of their ability.

If you look at sports, all of the good teams have one thing in common. They know how to draft and develop players. Can’t the same be said about us? Remember: your biggest investment and your biggest asset are your people.

Also remember, you get what you pay for. Good help ain’t cheap, and cheap help ain’t good. Good employees make the company money. Bad employees can cost the company money. If you want to attract good employees, you have to pay a fair and competitive wage, and you also have to have good work conditions. If you have an employee that is happy at his job and is being fairly paid, you will get referrals from others that this employee has talked to. If you have a bad workplace or if you are not paying enough, you will get just the opposite. Everybody likes a winner, and in sports with free agents, most things being equal, they prefer to be on a winning team.

How you pay your people will affect what you get. The best people are the ones that need the least amount of supervision. But while training these people, they need supervision, direction, coaching, and support. This is where the boss comes in.

If you want to have a good team, you need to be a good leader, first and foremost.

People will respect a leader that will not ask them to do anything that they can’t, or aren’t willing to do themselves. If you are the boss, you lead by example, good, bad, or ugly. Whenever there are issues, the problem usually starts with the leader. All businesses are run, and managed from the top, down. This is why being a good boss is so important.

One thing we have all learned is that your best people will step up when necessary. One of my favorite sayings is, “You know who your friends are when the shooting starts.” These are your most valuable people, and taking care of them should be your number one priority.

Employees Are a Company’s Greatest Asset.
My company, Northlake, is what it is not because of me, but because of my employees. I am proud of all of them. Everyone is saying how hard it is to find workers now. Funny thing is this: I recently rehired 2 former employees that previously left for better things. The question that every boss should ask themselves is this: “Why should an employee be loyal and dedicated to a company when the company isn’t loyal and dedicated to them?”

Remember: stick to the basics, keep it simple, focus on proper, consistent execution of your fundamentals.

Support your State and Local Associations! Support ARA!

Marty Hollingshead

ARA Secretary · Northlake Auto Recyclers — Hammond, IN

Hollingshead has been in the professional automotive recycling industry for 45 years, including 34 years as President/Owner of Northlake Auto Recyclers, one of the industry’s leading facilities. Hollingshead prides himself on taking a hands-on approach in the business, employing the use of checks and balances for quality control to ensure customers only receive the highest quality parts. Northlake was one of the first automotive recycling facilities in the state of Indiana to receive from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management the Indiana Clean Yard – Gold Level Certification in 2009. Northlake was certified as one of the Indiana Certified Automotive Recycler Exemplary Standards (INCARES) program’s inaugural medalists and was the highest scoring facility in Indiana in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and tied for first place in 2018. Northlake was also the recipient of the 2016 ARA Certified Automotive Recycler of the Year award, having been nominated by his peers in the industry.