10-07-14Jason, service manager for a capital equipment manufacturing company, told Session 4 of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL):

“In October 2004, only three months after being promoted to Field Service Manager, I was eager to make a positive difference.

“I decided to take on the most important problem in our department at the time, employee retention. In the prior two and a half years, the service department had lost 13 service technicians. I had 56 employees at the time and 19 had been hired that year. I had a target of 70 employees to meet forecasted workloads. With such a high attrition rate this goal seemed a near impossible target. People were going out the back door faster than we could bring them in the front door. I knew we had to do something different.

“My team leads and I spent time polling past and present employees and determined the largest cause of our attrition was lack of industry standard competitive wages. We also polled our contacts in the industry to determine wages they paid their employees in similar positions. I decided in order to convince upper management to increase wages I needed to speak their language; money! It is generally accepted that the cost of replacing a service tech in our industry is one and a half times their salary.

“I created a detailed seven page proposal outlining the real cost of attrition versus wage increase costs. I was able to detail how paying competitive wages would save the company over two million dollars over a five year period. Sometimes you need to spend money to make money! Shortly after I presented this proposal to our senior management team, wages were increased.

“The lesson I learned from this experience is by listening to my employees and taking the responsibility to sell my ideas, I can promote change. I can make change happen. I can be a victor, not a victim.

“The action I want you to take is to believe in yourself, know your audience, do your homework, and take full responsibility for selling your ideas.

“The benefit you will gain is increased confidence in yourself and your ability to make a meaningful, positive difference.

Never expect others to buy your ideas because “you say so”, because you think it is a good idea. You must do your due diligence. Gather the proof. Make an analytical study of the cost of all the options. One of the options is always to do nothing; that is a decision, too. If it were your money and you were taking the risks required, you would want proof! Remember the person above you almost always has to justify the decision you are asking them to make to someone else. Make the case easy to understand and easy to sell their “boss”, too.