Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F16
FIXED OPS JOURNAL
BETTER BY DEGREES
Amid pandemic, temp-taking service director connects with staff
state coronavirus requirement helped David Blackburn take
the temperature of his service department every day - literally
and fi guratively. In the process, he got a better read on
himself as a manager.
Blackburn , the service director at Scott Clark Auto Group in Charlotte,
N.C., took it upon himself to take the temperatures of nearly 100 people
on the service side of the group's Toyota store daily, including some in
corporate functions. Th e step was required by the state's coronavirus
health protocols. He had his service managers at Scott Clark's Honda
and Nissan stores do the same.
" I just decided to do it myself because that way everybody else can focus
on their job, " he says.
By Blackburn's reckoning, he had managed in the same way a school
principal might. In recent years, he'd had his deputies lead most staff
meetings. Employees typically dealt with their immediate supervisor
on most matters, leaving Blackburn as a detached overlord.
As a novice temperature-taker, he began showing up a half-hour before
the dealership opened at 7 a.m. He would walk around the service,
parts, rental and service BDC departments to get a reading from each
employee's forehead and record
it on their daily COVID-19
health questionnaire. When
that exercise proved too chaotic,
Blackburn had everyone
come by his offi ce when they
arrived at work.
And so they did, all formal
and nervous. His offi ce, he realized,
was " the place where
you go if you're in trouble or
where you go to talk about
something unpleasant. "
Blackburn says the 10-second
scan was similar to a military
exercise, with everyone
stiff and standing at attention.
Over time, though, things began
to loosen up.
" People started to make
Blackburn, with thermometer: " Take
time to talk to people more often. "
jokes, and then they would come in and say, you know, 'How was your
weekend? Did you watch the race? Did you watch the game?' " Blackburn
As the months went on, some of Blackburn's management team -
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while sitting in his offi ce - would add sound eff ects such as a gunshot
or an explosion when Blackburn pushed the thermometer button to
take a temperature. One employee would joke every day: " Do I get to go
But out of roughly 30,000 temperature recordings Blackburn made for
12 months starting in April 2020, not one employee was sent home with
a high temperature. Blackburn says he did have a few employees who
were told to leave work for the day because they had other COVID
Blackburn knows about how many temperatures he took because the
state mandated he keep all the daily employee COVID forms. He had
almost fi lled up his sixth box - each holds 5,000 forms - when North
Carolina stopped the temperature-taking requirement.
He still has the thermometer in his offi ce, a reminder of how a straightforward
exercise brought his service department closer.
" It just allowed me to kind of see a diff erent side of them and allowed
them to see a diff erent side of me, " Blackburn says. " Th ey got completely
relaxed, and now they come in my offi ce without really stopping to
think about it. Th ey don't mind coming in to ask me a question.
" And when I walk through the shop, instead of them snapping to firstname.lastname@example.org
they know I'm not Mr. Blackburn anymore, I'm not David anymore
- it's like, 'Hey, Dave, how you doing? How's it going?' It's a nice
As for lessons learned by " the principal " ?
He says it shouldn't take a pandemic for leaders to engage more with
their staff . He is interacting more with his employees on the shop fl oor.
Yes, he continues to recognize good work but is also chatting about nonwork
" Take time to talk to people more often, " he advises. " It has made me a
better person. "
PAGE 16 JUNE 2021
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - Intro
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F1
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F2
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - Contents
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F4
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F5
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F6
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F7
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F8
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F9
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F10
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F11
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F12
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F13
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F14
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F15
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F16
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F17
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F18
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F19
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F20
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F21
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F22
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F23
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F24
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F25
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F26
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F27
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2021 - F28