Realigning staff can breathe new life into your dealership, or… it can strangle it!
The latest wave of eager, book-schooled, graduates is crashing onto the shores of every industry throughout the world; hiring managers are finding themselves taking on the somewhat unenviable role of traffic directors. With eyes focused on the goal of long-term success for their company, decision-makers and strategists have already determined which departments can indeed take on fresh, inexperienced employees and which simply cannot. Making room for enthusiastic new hires often compels managers to implement changes to their workplace; it also propels many to take an active role in growing the business by promoting their existing employee superstars. Should they?
How readily can your own staff accommodate new situations, new members, new business practices? Who is it that you really should or should not promote?
When considering an employee for a promotion, be sure that person is not only productive but also ready to take on the responsibilities that would be inherent to his or her new role. Some people are very good at what they do, but they want predictability and have no real desire to move up the corporate ladder. They set modest goals for themselves and like working with very little pressure.
People like this are perfectly content to perform the same job year after year. They’re loyal, diligent workers who want to earn an honest day’s pay – nothing more. Be aware however, that they are often also quite accommodating and may heartily agree to take on the promotion only because you seem to want them to. They can prove to be unduly stressed, unmotivated, unhappy – disastrous in their new role.
You may come to the disturbing realization that the same person who performed so well previously is now completely ineffective. It’s important to know not only your subordinates’ abilities, but also their career goals. Don’t make the mistake of imposing lofty career objectives on someone who simply does not have them. You need to fill positions of authority with people who are enterprising, ambitious, assertive and self-confident.
Before offering a promotion to an employee, ask yourself these questions:
1. Does your candidate for the job really want to move up?
2. What kind of work approach, personality and pace does the job require?
3. Does the person you have in mind exhibit those traits?
Remember that promoting a great person into the wrong job will create stress, confrontations, confusion, worry and resentment. If you want peace of mind as well as a good night’s sleep, make sure you research your needs and analyze your employees to help ensure a good mutual fit!
While you yourself may have no intention of leaving your dealership, unexpected situations can arise and grow beyond your control. A health issue or family crisis can erupt. A new interest or a sudden desire to cast aside the pressures of business and pursue long-held personal dreams has compelled countless auto dealership owners, presidents and GMs to do what they never thought they would do: step down from their job. Some ensured a smooth and cost effective transition of power by implementing their succession plans. Too many others caused pandemonium and lost money, as there was no such plan in place.
It’s possible that someday, one of your own staff members may need to take over your job! Do you currently have people in place who could be qualified and ready to do so?
You may be planning to turn over the reins of your business to a son, daughter, or other significant family member. However, bearing your name or knowing your family’s well-kept secrets is not enough to successfully take charge of your dealership. What are the criteria for positions of leadership at your dealership? Does your relative meet them? If not, which other staff members could assume your position of authority?
Longtime customers will feel less anxious if, after your departure, your dealership is still overseen by a person with similar values, a similar business outlook and a similar measure of the concern you have shown throughout the years. Preserving the good name, solid reputation and positive image of your dealership is key. It becomes critical to provide your customers, as well as your staff, with an ongoing sense of confidence about the future of your company whether you are there at the helm, or not.
Your short-term goal should be to develop a pool of leaders, find workers who show some potential to make independent decisions, act on their own behalf and make decisions. Doing so, however, can be more difficult than it seems.
For example, a person who is openly enthusiastic, talkative and comfortable in the spotlight might seem like a good choice to take charge of others. However, be careful! The same high level of self-confidence and leadership ability you think you see may really be social assertiveness, a comfort around people and an ability to strut before an audience. Make sure there are other signs of determination, ambition or resolve. People whose greatest strength is their social savvy often talk a bigger game than they can actually play.
The effects of poor leadership can be widespread within a dealership and may vary from lose of a customer base, to poor sales, to low morale. The opportunity to avoid these mishaps is yours; the key lies in knowing your needs, not guessing, and being certain about the work habits, objectives and personalities of the people who surround you.
The future of your dealership is in your hands and depends on the strategies you have in place today. There is no turning back, no second chance and no margin for error!