Last week’s article was titled "Are You All In?" The bottom line to that article is knowing what you want to do, having a plan and getting after it. Being "All In," is far different than being a "Bull In A China Shop."
How many times in your career have you either hired someone or been in an organization that hired someone and the person hired comes in like a "Bull In A China Shop?" My definition as I’m using it here would be that someone is put in a position of management and creates a lot of hate and discontent, destroys morale and creates an environment where nothing positive happens. Sales end up going south rather than north. And when they are finally shown the door the dealership is in worse shape than when they arrived and there’s a huge sigh of relief heard across the land.
For whatever reason, these hot shots come in like a wild man (or woman, work with me), change this, change that, upset anything and everything. They assume everyone working there prior to their arrival is an idiot and are determined to fix it in 30 days or less. Am I describing anyone you’ve ever known?
First I’m going to lay this right where it belongs. On the owner, GM or whoever hired this cowboy. First of all, what were you thinking? Did you not see the warning signs during the interview process? Did you not check any references? Did you not ask enough questions about their previous experience? Did you not use a personality profile test of some sort?
Let’s assume you did or you didn’t do those things. Did it occur to you that this outside person coming into a totally different organization with a totally different culture might need some handholding and/or coaching for some period of time? Heck there are some people that need handholding forever.
Years ago I hired a very talented GSM. This guy was awesome…that is as long as I kept the reins on him. A few years later when we sold the store he went off on his own to do his own thing. What a disaster that was. There are some people who can perform quite well as long as they are being coached, but don’t have the self-control to go it alone without ticking the world off.
Many of them come down with a sickness called "Dealeritis," (another word I made up.) They lose their mind when given authority. It becomes their Achilles heel and their ultimate downfall.
Just in case you are the bull one day I have some suggestions for you to make your life and everyone’s life around you better and far more productive.
1. Don’t assume everyone at your new store is an idiot. Maybe they just need some leadership, a change in direction, a roadmap with a plan of execution.
2. Depending on your new position, interview and spend time with everyone in the store. Do a 15 to 30 minute interview process that allows you to get to know every employee and what they think. Ask them about their background, the job they are currently doing, what they like about it and what they don’t like about it. And, most important, ask their advice about what they think it would take to make the organization better than it is today. I often ask that question in the following manner: "If you owned this dealership today what would you do different?"
3. If you are the GM then you need to meet one on one with each department head on a weekly basis to establish common ground and work out potential brewing issues. And, at least once a week you need to meet with all department heads to review what’s going on and where you are heading. Add to that a monthly department head meeting to review the previous month and the new forecast for the upcoming month. If you’re the GSM you would do the same sort of thing with your sales and F&I managers. No store is too big or too small for this process.
4. Seek to provide training and information for all the members of your team. If you’re the GM get involved with a 20 group. Being in a 20 group will open your mind up to what the possibilities might be. The more training you bring to the table for the team the more buy in you will get. As great a salesman as you might be, they still need to hear the message from an outsider once in a while. (Hire me, he, he) Showing that you are willing to invest in the team pays amazing dividends.
5. Darn it, be nice. No really I meant that. You don’t have to give up principles and discipline when being nice. Acting as if you are a dictator and that you are greater than thou only pushes people away from you. Those working in your organization want to be treated with dignity and respect just as you do. Just because you sit in the highest office doesn’t mean you can treat people like crap.
6. Listen to other people’s ideas. You will be amazed at what you can learn if you talk less and listen more. Leave your ego at the front door. The only thing you need to prove to people is you are interested in their success. If you do that the rest will fall in place.