Interns & TraineesWritten By: Ron Slee
Article Date: 11-01-2005
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Who is coming up behind you?
Every year at this time, I reminisce about the early days of my career in this Industry. I reflect on what is better now, what has stayed the same, and what needs improvement. It's a nostalgic review with a bit of a bite. I remember working with a group of interns each year. These were young people who were getting engineering, science, or business degrees and wanted a summer job with a prospect for a career with a dealership. The objective for each of them was to test out the business and see if they thought they would enjoy a career within our company.
Generally, we started them in the warehouse picking and receiving parts, and doing general warehouse work. We quickly discovered which ones were prepared to work and which ones only wanted a paycheck. Then we got serious and exposed the interns to service, sales, parts, accounting and data processing. It was a good review of the jobs and functions within the company.
Those that made it through this internship were offered jobs the following spring provided they graduated with a degree. It was a terrific means to create some "bench strength" for management
and sales jobs in the company. Those that joined us then went through an 18-month training program and then were sent to a department as a management trainee.
As a rule, we tried to have 5 percent of the total management of the company in this type of trainee position. If we had 40 managers, we would have two trainees. It was extremely simple and very effective.
So what do I see today? I don't see much being done to develop management bench strength. We are not developing in a structured systematic manner the new generation of managers to pick up the ball and continue the development of the Industry. This is a large problem and a big mistake.
Part of being a good steward of the industry is to leave it in better condition than it was when you arrived. Is the current generation of management holding up their end in this area?
Each dealership should be working to develop the next generation of management. We already have problems with some job functions. Like where do you find a good service manager? How about a good product support executive?
Most dealers are trying to hire someone from another dealership.
There are also programs available for developing your current employees. The AED Foundation offers many different types of training for management development - from self-study programs on CD or VHS with comprehensive manuals of support materials to classroom training provided by industry specialists.
How many of you develop your own employees? It's effective and inexpensive. In addition, local technical schools offer specialized training and many junior colleges and universities offer specialized management classes and skills-based education. Are these types of programs offered to your employees?
Development of good entry-level supervision takes time. It also takes a commitment both on the part of the employee and the dealership. It also costs money. But this is a very valuable process for both the employee and your dealership.
It could also be a disaster lurking if you don't get started.
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