By Sandy Blalock • ARA Executive Director
The events of 2020 forced us to seek out opportunities in order to better communicate and engage with our members. We had to dig deep and in time make some drastic changes for the better. I believe that our industry relies on ARA to take the leadership position to guide, inform, represent, and protect to assure the continued success of our members and the auto recycling community. 2020 is now in our rear view mirrors but the lessons learned will continue to serve us well in the future. We will proceed with hope and the knowledge that our industry is indeed vibrant and sustaining.
One of the lessons ARA learned during 2020 was that we had to engage and find appealing outlets to communicate with our members without overwhelming them with the daily “doom and gloom” that was often surrounding them. For the most part, we wanted to assure that recyclers had information that was very specific to our industry to keep them apprised of what was happening that might affect them specifically. No one needed daily reminders of the growing number of COVID-19 cases, but recyclers certainly needed to know the impact to their very specific businesses as it was all transpiring and changing.
One of the most encouraging things that I saw during this pandemic was the dynamic changes happening within auto recyclers’ businesses as they, without second guessing, embraced the necessary adaptations to their business models to continue to serve their customers, while protecting them and their most valuable assets – their employees. I know it has not been easy and some still may struggle but let’s all learn from this and look for the good that might come from having gone through this in our lifetimes.
We are all certainly hoping that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel in 2021 and much of the worst is behind us. So how do we assure that 2021 gets off to a good start and we have learned lessons from last year? I would like to share some ideas that might help assure success in 2021.
Make effective communication priority one. When change is imminent, cynicism can arise from a lack of communication. Whether it’s through weekly, biweekly or monthly meetings or shared calendars, do your part to make sure that your team and employees are in tune with workplace happenings. Keep information about change a collective event, as private conversations run the risk of being inconsistent or building fears. Group meetings and open communications serve to build trust and form a bond rooted in effective communication as you model to your team the importance of talking things out.
Make sure your team is always part of the discussion. Part of being in management involves bringing about change, even if that change doesn’t make everyone happy. While decisions are made from the top, and often without employee input, engage and include your team members where you are able. Take the time to explain the necessity and reasoning behind the change to your team members. Give the staff an opportunity to pose questions and share their concerns. This allows your employees to be brought into the equation, even though they aren’t the ones doing the decision-making. Don’t just hear them out. Take seriously their concerns and suggestions. Don’t be blind to the possibility that others might have some meaningful insight you may not have considered.
As many of us have learned over the past year, change is a part of growth. It allows us to develop into more complete individuals and businesses to help or serve more people. Yet as much as we appreciate the growth, knowledge and opportunity that change affords us, it can still feel challenging and scary. To keep your team and business healthy, communicate openly and provide clarity. Openly share information, offer reasons, listen for concerns and provide an explanation when needed. When you do, you and your team can overcome the challenge of change. Never lose sight of hope. It will be your ally for life.
Reach Sandy Blalock at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share your thoughts pertaining to the advancement of professional automotive recycling. Your letter could be published in an upcoming issue.