An automotive repair operation at some point may find the need to organize personnel and divide responsibilities between people. In doing so it’s important to recognize whether activities within the business are value add or non-value add. It’s also important to be careful that when a person is given responsibility the necessary authority is given as well. And when personnel are responsible for the actions of others their authority in this regard must be clear to all. Following are key points on personnel organization:
- Value Add vs. Non-Value Add Resources – In an automotive repair environment there is work that’s part of the process of selling, performing and delivering the services that the customer purchases. These are considered value add or direct activities. Then there are functions that are not part of the selling, repair or delivery process and they’re referred to as non-value add or indirect activities. When organizing personnel and defining work responsibilities an important objective is to have people that perform direct functions spend as much of their time as possible on value add activities while indirect functions are performed by those who are better suited to that kind of work.
- Authorities and Responsibilities – In management theory it is said that we assign authority and we assume responsibility. Unfortunately in the real world it doesn’t always work out that way. Anyone that manages a business operation focuses on the work that needs to be performed (responsibilities) and assigns the work the best way possible. However, when viewing it from this perspective – if the authority delegated is sufficient to perform the responsibilities then the correct balance has been achieved. If not, people are left to other devices to accomplish their work and this is often counter-productive. So when developing organizational structure for personnel it is important to be cognizant of the relationship between authority and responsibility.
- Hierarchical vs. Flat Organizations – In a small auto repair shop environment the shop owner manages all employees creating a single level or flat organizational structure. As a shop grows the need may arise to institute levels of management. In doing so it’s important to recognize that authorities are being delegated and this must be communicated to all affected personnel. Maybe even more important is the need for the business owner to adhere to the organizational structure created. When a person in a higher position of authority bypasses a supervisor and deals directly with subordinates two or more levels lower they’re said to ‘short circuit the chain of command’. This can be one of the most counter-productive and costly types of mismanagement there is.