EGO vs. Ability
For some reason, especially in the auto repair business,
there’s a tendency for the ego to overshadow the actual abilities
of a lot of mechanics. Sure, I can say my ego has stepped over
the line a time or two, but for the most part, the ever changing
industry usually keeps a person humble.
For some guys, there’s no stopping their ever-unchecked ego
from stepping out beyond their tool box. Especially, if they’ve
landed a position that is far above their capabilities. Some,
reach beyond the typical, “I know more than you do” level, to a
status where their ever-enlarging ego has no boundaries,
regardless if they are even qualified for such a position.
If you ever have wondered if you’re that type of person
or not, take this little survey and let’s see. Answer the following
questions as truthfully as possible. Answer each question – yes or no.
1.I know all there is to know about cars. 2.All the other mechanics are below my abilities. 3.Customers come to me because I’m the best there is. 4.Have you ever said to another mechanic, “Get out of my way, I’ll take care of this.” 5.I don’t need to take advanced classes, I should be teaching them.
If you answered any of these questions with anything other than ‘NO’, you probably need to check your EGO at the door.
It’s not hard to spot these egotistical mechanics though. We’ve all ran into one at some point in our careers. You know, that one guy that runs his mouth all the time, or walks by each service bay shouting louder than everyone else while making claims he could fix that problem faster than you can. That one guy who, when given some authoritative position, turns into a ‘mini-Hitler’. Or, the one who can’t seem to finish his own work, but at the same time, is awfully chummy with the boss. The kind that swings into action if the boss says ‘jump’, but never actually accomplishes a thing. Yes, we all know ‘that’ guy. Worse yet, is when these type of individuals break their ties to the tool box and move to other aspects of the auto repair industry. Like the front office.
When I was first starting out, I worked at a small local dealership as a helper. I wasn’t even what you might call an apprentice, because I wasn’t assigned to a mechanic or strictly to the mechanic shop. I was more the guy who cleaned up the bays, held tools, and brought parts from the warehouse to the service bays. Everybody was great, and encouraged me to learn more and more. All but this one guy. It wasn’t long before it was universally known throughout the entire building that ‘this’ was our egotistical wrench head of the shop.
This guy had something to say about everything. You couldn’t even sweep a floor or roll up a hose without him saying something demeaning or repulsive. But, it only got worse. Apparently, his boisterous attitude made it all the way to the front office. But, being the ‘non-car-front-office-people’ that they were, and since this guy couldn’t stay in his own bay long enough to finish anything, they made the assumption he must be their gift from the wrench gods. Which, in turn, must mean he deserved a promotion to bigger and better things. They made him the shop super.
Now, his ‘little-Hitler’ mentality came out with a vengeance. Nobody was safe from the torrential down beating this guy dished out. Even with numerous complaints, the dealership head honchos still believed he walked on water. His greatest skill was not wrenching, or diagnosing, but getting rid of anyone that said anything against his ideas, or even remotely showed any signs of intelligence beyond his mental capacities. (Didn’t take much by the way)
It wasn’t long before his ever oppressive antics started to affect the quality of work and the number of customers that used the dealership service department. Soon, every tech that was left had had enough. They were all packing up their tool boxes and heading down the road. After a while, even the need to have some young kid sweeping floors and running parts back and forth wasn’t needed, because there were more empty bays than full ones now.
This egotistical maniac even thought he could teach the other mechanics and helpers something about the auto industry that apparently … only he understood. His method of instructing was appalling. It usually consisted of him shouting at the top of his lungs from the front of the room, while explaining the aspects of some out of date process. He even had his own homemade jargon and squirrelly nicknames for these long forgotten components which only fit cars that haven’t seen a service bay for decades. All the while, pointing a three foot long piece of dowel rod like if it were some sort of magic wand.
It was more like watching a circus clown trying to explain advanced quantum physics. His true attitude was even more apparent if you asked for help on something. Instead of helping, he would come over and take whatever it was you were working on and rip it completely back apart, then telling you that you did it wrong. Ya know, if you already ‘knew’ you did something wrong, how is starting over from the beginning ever going to help? Two wrongs don’t make a right, and you ‘still’ don’t have any clue what you’re doing.
But, as with a lot of these ego driven socket jockeys with the little Hitler attitude, it’s just a matter of time before upper management takes notice. However, for this dealership, it came bit too late. The place closed due to lack of work. (Like ya couldn't see that coming.)
So, why am I bringing this up? It’s not funny, it’s not technical… what gives? What’s the whole point of this story? It’s for you to consider the results of your actions when you’re talking with a customer or for that matter another mechanic. The fact that a customer or fellow mechanic doesn’t know what you know, is probably the very reason your customer or that mechanic was asking you for your advice.
It’s easy to find yourself in this business, thinking you’re above reproach. But, honestly, we all can learn a lot about the make-up of today’s cars and even more about helping other technicians and mechanics without going to the point of becoming the next little Hitler.
In fact, you may find that technology is starting to pass you by because you’ve spent way too much time telling everybody that you know it all, instead of studying that very technology you claimed you knew. (You can only BS them for so long) Maybe, it’s time for you to eat a little humble pie and accept the fact that you need to advance your training just to be able to do what you thought you already knew how to do.
Years ago a mechanic’s job was all about turning bolts, twisting screws, and adjusting cables. Today, the stereotypical mechanic doesn’t really have a place in the service bay on a daily basis. Tomorrow’s tech is here today. That’s the guy or gal that is heavily involved with advanced electronics, data lines, and computer strategies, but they still need to turn those nuts and bolts just like before. Above all, the auto repair business is on the brink of being so sophisticated of a career choice that the shade tree adventurer will be hard to find.
Every mechanic needs to learn and understand today’s vehicles to be profitable and to be respected in the industry as well as with their clients. It may take a while to bring the world of automotive repair up a few notches from that old stereotypical mechanic we all knew. But, we could all start by showing a little more respect to others, as well as ourselves and especially to our fellow mechanics.