By Kendall Rawls
No stranger to change and uncertainty, auto dealers have a reputation for being pioneers when having to be agile in the ways of doing business on the highways of change. One thing does stay constant for dealers, however, and it relates to people. From the talent that you hire to the customers you serve, as a dealer, you are always in the people business!
An area in which we see dealers having a lot of questions and complexities regarding people revolves around talent and successorship. We talk a lot about “where are all the leaders” and work with dealers on how to differentiate between a manager versus a potential key leader, or even potential successor in the business.
In previous eras, managers were groomed into leadership roles because it was the way it had always been done. Dealers now must navigate a new normal with the large amount of talent coming into the workplace combined with the rapid exit of Boomers, and the small-ish generation of those in between available to promote to leadership. Today’s era requires business owners (not just dealers) to ensure they are grooming the right people for the right roles within their organizations.
In order to properly groom for the right roles, and to ensure positive morale amongst your people – which also can translate to other great operational efficiencies – you must understand first the motivation and goals of your people. Once you have determined this, then you must dig-in and identify where they fit best in your organization. Here are four requirements for identifying the right people, and putting them in the right spots:
- Position Requirements – What does the position require? Consider values, beliefs, behaviors, skills, knowledge and experience. Create an image in your mind as the best person you have seen carry out these responsibilities. Better yet, use organizational psychology tools to map out the management style that best fits the role and compare all hires against the model. This becomes your blueprint for the right person in this particular seat. The more you stray from the print, the more likely you are to place the wrong person in the wrong seat.
- Recruiting Requirements – When looking at bringing on new talent for key positions, talk with colleagues, business acquaintances, and others who have access to people similar to the ones you want, and leverage the blueprint discussed above to qualify your candidates. If looking to promote someone within, employ the same tactics, but consider the person’s co-workers, their outside professional relationships and of course, your “gut” reaction. Relying on traditional methods of sourcing will surface those who are available, and they are rarely the ones who turn out to be the right people for the job.
- Interview Requirements – When interviewing a potential for the role you are considering filling, focus on how well the individual fits your values. You can teach the hard skills much easier than you can change the values, beliefs, and behaviors. These four questions can help you gauge how well they fit your culture, the department and people they will be working with/for:
- What was the culture you enjoyed working in best, and why?
- What was the culture you least enjoyed working in, and why?
- Who was the boss you enjoyed working with the best, and why?
- Who was the boss you least enjoyed working with and why?
Evaluate their answers based on your current culture and leadership team, and you will quickly identify if they are a fit or not.
- Like-ability Requirements – It is no secret that working with people we like, makes working that much easier. Therefore, considering only making an offer to people you like. This means “those you like” not “those that are like you”. Getting people into your organization who are all alike cramps your ability to be flexible and adaptable to a variety of circumstances.
With these tools to help you put the right people in the right chairs, let’s get back to that issue of manager versus leader. Never before has there been a stronger need for organizations to put leaders in place to ensure operational sustainability. The gap of old to new is broadening, and its being felt in all industries and professions. It does not mean, however, that you lack key managers or future leaders in your dealership.
A great deal of your business value is locked in the resource fullness, commitment, enthusiasm and teamwork of your management team. Your management team’s ability to optimize your business’ resources to achieve performance goals is crucial to the current and future success of the dealership. Here are three questions to ask yourself as you look at leadership and management continuity in your dealership:
- Does the individual have an ownership attitude, or do they look upon my business as just a job?
This question will help you determine if the person you are considering for a leadership role is ready for that move, or if they might be better positioned as a manager.
- Am I confident that even in an environment of frustration and uncertainty, this individual will continue to enthusiastically support me and or my successors?
This question will help you determine if the person you are considering is fully behind you and the long-term success of the dealership, or if they are only self-interested.
- Am I aware of the goals of my key managers and future leaders and are they in alignment with mine?
This question will help you navigate motivations for specific individuals. Understanding if they are self-motivated or owner-minded will help you place them in the right seat, for the long-term.
Every business needs strong managers to help them thrive and succeed. In addition, leaders are key to moving the business into the future. Ensure that you have done the work to identify where those in your dealership that are meant to be. Drive your dealership into the future by understanding motivations, goals and growth expectations of your people.
Kendall Rawls knows and understands the challenges that impact the success of an entrepreneur-owned business. Her unique perspective comes not only from her educational background but, more importantly, from her experience as a second-generation family member employee of The Rawls Group – Business Succession Planners. For more information, visit www.rawlsgroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.