From researching previous posts I know that most businesses no longer do much on-the-job training. That is they don’t take a green horn and teach him the skills that are necessary to make him a valuable employee. It is said that they just don’t see the profit in doing that as many will just leave for a higher pay once they have been trained. This varies remarkably from America’s past where in apprenticeships were the norm.
I enjoy watching TV shows about people who build and remodel cars and motorcycles. It is interesting to watch how they do it. It is even more interesting to watch the dynamics of these small businesses in action. I regularly watch shows such as: American Hot Rod (Boyd Coddington), Wheeler Dealers (British), American Chopper, and occasionally West Coast Customs. On these hot summer afternoons such as today when it is unbearable outside I often sit on the couch and watch a recorded episode or two.
I just finished watching a couple of episodes of American Hot Rod that brought the thoughts of this post. Duane who is the shop supervisor in that series seems to have little interest in his employees. He had a new twenty year old that Boyd hired because of his enthusiasm. He gave the new guy a job to take off a firewall of a car they were restoring and then just left him to do the job. He came back six hours later and raked him over the coals because he did the job the wrong way! He continually bad mouthed his new employee for not having the necessary skills . Why didn’t he teach him how to do the job correctly instead of criticizing him hours later for doing it wrong? If I remember this series correctly from previously watching it the kid finally quits in frustration. These businesses are at the top of their category but I often wonder just how they survive given how they treat their employees.
This gets me back to just how small business operates today. I wonder just how many Duane’s there are out there in small business land? Is he the rule or the exception in that world? Do small business often harass their employees? I just don’t know. I do know that as a small business owner I never harassed my employee. Of course my only employee was me. :)
I know one of the common characteristics that most of these small business shows have in common is the inflated egos of their owners or top employees. Duane is a primary example but there is also the owner of West Coast Customs who has an ego the size of a mountain and the attitude to go with it. I don’t watch much of that show because of my disdain for him. It seems that all the exposure to small business I have are of these types of people. I am probably approaching this as a thirty year employee of a major corporation so my vision is limited. We had training programs and mentorships and we seldom saw workplace harassment to the degree evidenced by these programs.
If small business is the major employer in today’s world as some claim I hope that my view of them is a distorted one. If it is not then there are an awfully lot of very disgruntled people out there suffering under the lordship of their small business owners.