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Avoid the blame game and lift up your shop’s team

Have you ever experienced a week where things start going wrong on Monday morning and before you know it the whole week has been a massive train wreck? Sales go down, comebacks roll in — you get the idea. If you’re like most, you know exactly what I’m talking about. How great would it be to be able to avoid the wreck and rock the week?  You can.

Here is how one issue cascades into your train running completely off the track. It’s a pattern of thinking and behavior that happens every time something goes awry. I’ll use your technician as my example, but this can be any of the team members in your shop.

Rick White, of 180Biz

The tech makes a mistake and the whole shop knows it. His internal critic kicks in and starts eating away at his confidence in himself. He’s afraid of making another mistake and becomes consumed with not failing again. He is completely focused on failure. One mistake leads to another and voila! Comebacks start rolling in and guess where the week ends up? Yup, train wreck.

Try this experiment. I don’t want you to think of the color blue. I said don’t think of the color blue! Do you see how saying something like this to yourself causes you to focus on exactly what you DON’T want to?  Now change the word “blue” to “mistake” or “failing” and you’re now walking in the shoes of your tech. And here’s the kicker — your reaction to the situation as the owner is going to either fuel this fire by lending credibility to all his inner critic is spewing or put it out by shutting that inner critic up.

Here’s how to isolate issues so they don’t infect the rest of your week using four simple steps. When taken intentionally, you’ll find yourself with a happier team and much better weeks.

  1. Stay curious. Recognize the influence you have with your team; it’s critical that you don’t react in a negative way at all. Even if you think your reaction is just you coming to grips with the situation, your tech is going to make your response all about their mistake and how you feel about them. Instead of reacting, stay curious. Impossible you say? Not if you believe that you’ve got great people that are doing their absolute best working with you. Staying curious means asking questions to better understand the current situation and how you and your team got here. This first step is instrumental in setting the foundation for successfully interrupting the pattern and learning from this event to prevent reoccurrence.

  2. Break bread. Have lunch or coffee and donuts delivered and get everyone together. The goal is to get people laughing and having fun as a team about anything without throwing someone under the bus. You’re providing this break to build up your team, not tear them down.

  3. Encourage your team. Once you have everyone together, it’s time to remind everyone, especially the tech, that they’re the absolute best at what they do. Doing this in front of everyone will help the tech save face. Your genuine belief in them and their abilities is pivotal in quieting their inner critic. Reinforce that you’re all a team and that you win and learn as a team. If you have a healthy culture in your business, you’ll also see the rest of your team shoring up their associate.

  4. Learn with your team. Review what happened and find the lessons associated with this incident. This isn’t the time for blame. Blame questions start with “why.” Start your questions with “how” instead. Such as, “How can we turn this into a win?” or “How can we grow and provide a better-quality job or customer experience from this?” How questions are great to ask because they’re focused on solutions. Come up with a game plan together so that when you’re finished with this meeting, everyone walks away feeling a little bit better.

By following these four basic steps, you’ll break the pattern of failure that has tanked your weeks in the past. You’ll see just how much your leadership and belief in your team encourages and empowers them. Oh, and by the way, don’t wait for the next hiccup. Using this super power of yours every day will influence your team to heights you’ve only dreamed of.


Rick White of 180Biz is a business turnaround and growth expert helping shop owners go from struggling to stay open to being the go-to shop in their market. He has taught thousands to not only make more money than they ever thought possible, but also to have the time to enjoy it with their families. To find out more, visit

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