What You Might Be Missing?

Frequently in my training sessions I’ll ask the question, “How many of you agree that we do a lousy job of holding people accountable in the automobile business?” Without exception, they will all raise their hands.

Leaders that have figured out how to hold people accountable are the most successful when it comes to developing a culture of leaders and achieving high results.

Holding people accountable doesn’t have to be a negative experience. When people understand the expectations, they will seek to achieve those expectations, goals, objectives, culture or however you might want to frame it.

People tend to do the right thing when they know it’s in their best interest, not when you have to hit them over the head with a baseball bat.

Your job as a leader is to sell the team the idea that the things the organization deems to be in the best interest of the organization is actually in their best interest too. Achieving expectations means they win, we win and we all have more success.

Easy tips:

1. Make sure everyone is reminded of the expectations. Yes, that seems elementary, but the evaporation factor is always in play. Either as a direct message or subliminally, leaders must constantly remind the troops of what’s expected and what’s important.

2. Get on it right now. Far too often when there’s a lapse in achievement, leaders let things drag on and on. The more things are allowed to slip, the more those things become habit, and the more the expectations are lowered.

3. You don’t have to be mean to enforce expectations. People like to work in a well-run, well-disciplined organization. This isn’t about screaming and hollering at someone about their failures. It is about letting them know quickly we’re not on track; you and your team are not getting it done, whatever “getting it done” might mean to you.

At some point there must be consequences for those who cannot live up to reasonable expectations. The ultimate consequence is they get to go to work someplace else.

4. Be consistent in your actions and statements. The easiest way for expectations to fall apart is that you are all over the place. You let some things slide for some people and not for others. You cannot be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Selective enforcement with just a few people will destroy the morale and productivity of the team.

5. There are times when you need to figure out the real root of why expectations aren’t being met. What’s the real problem? Leadership sometimes will set the wrong expectations. Setting the wrong expectations is just as bad as not having any.

6. In order to hold others accountable we too have to hold ourselves accountable. We should make it a daily practice of looking in the mirror and being honest with ourselves.

A part of holding yourself accountable is never to forget, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The closer you become with people the more difficult you make your responsibility of holding them accountable.

I’m holding you accountable. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Ignorance Isn’t The Problem

One of my favorite authors and bloggers is Seth Godin. In a recent article, (LINK) Seth points out that when staff members aren’t doing what you would like them to do it’s not due to ignorance. It’s due to the fact that they don’t care about what you care about.

Getting people to care about what you care about isn’t necessarily about having more meetings and training sessions. Of course that activity is a part of giving people what they need to know. Knowing something and doing something is what separates the good companies from the great companies.

One of the best things a leader can give to his/her organization is to set the atmosphere for a defining culture.

Everybody has the same product.
Everybody has great prices.
Everybody has technology.
Everybody has trained technicians.
Everybody has good selling processes.

Culture is what will separate your organization from your competition.

Most of the time upper management “gets it.” The breakdown occurs at the next level. Far too often we don’t get enough influence from the core staff to make a real difference.

A few are talking the talk, but most aren’t walking the walk. People have to “see it” in order to start to “believe it.”

Your challenge is to get more of the “next level” involved, engaged, and believing they can make a difference.

Until you do so, you’ll hold some nice meetings. Do some nice talking. Print some nice posters. Create some nice name badges. Feel good about yourself. But, not much will change. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

This Is Difficult

What’s difficult? What I’m about to say is difficult. I don’t like saying it, but it’s the truth. People lie.

When they lie the impact is expensive and painful. What lie am I talking about?

It’s the lie of:

“Yes boss, I’m all in.”
“I’m with you.”
“Let’s rock this thing.”
“I think you’re brilliant.”
“This will take us to the promised land.”

They are looking right at you shaking their head north and south on the outside, but on the inside their head is going east and west and they are thinking, “No way!”

Behind the scenes they are circumventing whatever it is you’re trying to do. They don’t want the change you’re trying to implement and they have convinced themselves that the old way is the best way. They have a hidden posse of followers that they have gathered up to help spread the negative propaganda.

They will act like they are in the boat rowing with you, but at the same time they are drilling holes and letting the water seep in.

They will play along with you for some period of time as if they support the idea, but plant seeds of doubt to convince you that you’ve got it wrong and that we need to go back the other way.

In the end, one of two things will happen. You will listen to them and bail out of the idea. Legacy thinking wins again. Or you figure out what’s going on and send them packing.

Either way it’s going to be expensive and painful for you.

It would be a lot less expensive and painful if you had figured it out sooner.

You’d figure it out a lot sooner if you would just pay attention. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Can You Relate?

The Peter Principle is a management theory that states the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role.

Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.”

Promoting people to their level of incompetence is one of the biggest issues facing businesses and is extremely prevalent in the automobile business.

Dealerships spend thousands of dollars in time and money developing staff members’ “managing skills.” We’ve all observed such people. They are wizards at managing things, processes and resources.

Someone may have been an awesome new car inventory manager. They were great with details, data and were as organized as a flight director at NASA. They can organize a herd of cats, but have zero leadership skills.

One day the big opening occurs and they are promoted. Bam!

Hello “Peter Principle.”

All is not lost. People can actually learn leadership skills. Of course the best way to learn is to have great mentors.

Far too often the person that got promoted is more than likely replacing someone with similar managing skills and little or no leadership mentoring has taken place.

If CEOs and owners would spend as much time, money and energy on developing people’s leadership skills as they do on developing management skills we’d have a lot less Peters to deal with.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

They Slammed The Door On Me

Back in 2004, I was scrambling to change planes at DFW airport in Dallas, TX. Through no fault of my own, my incoming flight was delayed which caused me to run to the next gate like a madman. When I finally got to the gate they had just closed the door and refused to open it.

The real reason they didn’t want to open the door is they had already given my seat away and the plane was full. I cannot tell you the hopeless feeling I had standing there looking at the plane and then watching it pull away from the gate. Tears of hopelessness were running down my face. Ok, I wasn’t actually crying, but I felt like it.

That’s how you’re going to feel if you keep letting “Legacy Thinking” win at your dealership or business. “Legacy Thinking” is about viewing the present and the future through thoughts from the past.

I returned from the NADA convention a few weeks ago and I’ve finally had time to decompress all the information and conversations about technology and the changes taking place in the industry.

It has become clearly evident that a few are getting on the plane and many are being left at the gate.

Defeating legacy thinking is uncomfortable. It’s easy to look the other way and get locked into the past. The past is comfortable because it’s what we know and it has served us well. Stepping outside of what we know can be scary.

Being a little scared in the moment is going to be far better than being left at the gate. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Top Ten Reasons

Top 10 Reasons You Should Schedule a Workshop With Me:

1. You’ve had evaporation. Regardless of how good you are or how well disciplined you are, there’s going to be an evaporation of processes over a period of time. Bam! I can fix that!

2. You’ve had some turnover. Most people do. Turnover isn’t a sin. What’s a sin is not ensuring that the new guys and gals get it. If you don’t give them the right tools, they don’t have a chance. Bam! I can fix that!

3. The business is changing. Your team needs to understand the changes taking place and how to attack them. Bam! I can fix that!

4. Your team has gotten a little complacent, either because business has been pretty darn good or they have accepted
the status quo. They need to be re-energized and see the possibilities. Bam! I can fix that!

5. Your average grosses continue to decline. Mostly they decline because someone’s not paying attention to the little things. Bam! I can fix that!

6. You have aged inventory and wholesale losses. Aged inventory helps create #5. Aged inventory causes wholesale losses. Bam! I can fix that!

7. You have a team that struggles to get on the same page. You have old school thinking. You have new school thinking. You have no thinking. Bam! I can fix that!

8. The number of days it takes to get a car online and on the line is killing you. Bam! I can fix that!

9. You’re sick and tired of listening to the bickering, excuses and lack of forward movement. Bam! I can fix that!

10. You need a coach. You need someone to lean on. You need another set of eyes on the subject. Bam! I can fix that!

A quote worth remembering: “The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.” Morihei Ueshiba

Is now the time? That’s all I’m gonna ask, Tommy Gibbs

Can You Improve Your Success?

One of my early goals as a new car dealer was that I wanted our dealership to be a place where everybody in town wanted to go to work.

We all know the saying, “Happy employees equals happy customers.” And, no doubt, the more happy customers we have, the happier our bottom-line.

A more hip term or fancier way of saying that is you want to build an “Irresistible Organization.”

To build an irresistible organization you must engage your team to the point that they own the culture. Only when the team owns the culture will you feel the super glue effect. It’s sticking and it’s not going to evaporate into the atmosphere.

Part of engaging your team includes creating an exciting work environment that’s fulfilling and meaningful, and where everyone feels a sense of purpose in their jobs.

Research has proven that people want:

1. To be relevant.
2. An opportunity to advance.
3. A stable & disciplined work environment.
4. Excellent teammates.
5. Training that’s relevant and helps them perform their jobs efficiently and effectively.

People want to be a part of something bigger than they are. The No. 1 thing employees cite as their strongest motivator at work is peer motivation that is, the drive to help their team succeed.

As a leader you should never lose sight of the fact that everybody wants to be on a winning team.

You improve the odds of your team succeeding when you improve your focus on the 5 bullet points listed above. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Is There A Better Way?

I frequently hear CEOs of dealer groups talk about how hard it is to find GSMs & GMs for their stores. More often than not, the missing skill set for those that have failed them is they just aren’t very good leaders.

The moment they come on board, they have all these amazing things they want to change
and “make it better.” They do have skills, but they don’t have “leadership skills,” so from day one they tend to struggle.

A savvy CEO should be as much interested in how many people they have developed as they are in the number of units over the curb. If you focus on the numbers, you may get a little surge, but it’s not going to be consistent and it’s going to be a little short-term gain and a whole lot of long-term pain.

Far too often the strategy of new leadership is to unload in rapid fire a bunch of new ideas, bring some new rock stars in and drain the swamp. (ha, ha)

That strategy will generally create hate and discontent, and put you that much further behind.

Soon you’ll be looking for a new GSM or GM and repeating the process of hoping the new one works out.

The first question that should be asked of your potential rock star is how do they intend to rally the troops?

The most important part of that answer is, “How do they intend to rally the individuals?” You cannot rally the troops until you capture the hearts and minds of the individual team members.

If I were your new hire, here’s what I would do:

1. I’d meet with every team member one-on-one. During the course of these one-on-ones I would be asking questions, getting opinions, and asking every team member, “If this were your business, what would you do differently?”

The more I can learn about each team member’s family, hobbies, and their life’s journey, all the better. I’d get dialed in on the conversation by taking notes…lots and lots of notes.

2. I’d start every morning spending additional one-on-one time with as many people as I could come into contact with. These are casual conversations done on the fly. Building relationships is what is going to create profound change and a new direction.

3. Throughout the day I would look for opportunities to create “power moments.”

Moments to coach.
Moments that matter.
Moments to encourage.
Moments to pick people up.
Moments to push them forward.
Moments to guard the processes.

It’s a whole lot easier to implement change and solid strategies when you get the team on the same page.

My way is a better way, that’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

What About You?

This business is never easy. One of the most interesting things about it is you don’t get to enjoy the wins for very long. It’s important to put the losses behind you as soon as possible. Not much different than any sports you might have played.

If you’re like me, you love the challenges it brings to the table each and every day. I always look forward to getting up in the morning and “getting after it.”

The number one thing I miss about being a car dealer is connecting with the team members and the energy I get from them each day.

Since I’ve been in the speaking, training and coaching business I primarily work alone. It can be challenging at times since I only have myself to rely on. But actually I like the idea of “staying after myself.”

It doesn’t matter if you work alone or work with 500 people, you still have to “stay after yourself.” It’s a fun challenge and something you can actually get better at.

“Staying after yourself” requires planning and discipline.

Some key elements to “staying after yourself” include reading, writing, listening and forcing yourself to attend Twenty Group meetings, conventions and workshops. Those things open the mind and help you see what the possibilities might be.

I’ve become a firm believer that writing is a bigger component to success than one might think. I don’t mean that you have to be an award winning author; writing your thoughts down each day helps to open your brain up to where you’ve been and where you can go.

Writing helps you “stay after yourself.” It will help you self-evaluate your actions, your behavior and how well you are accomplishing those “continuous goals” you should be writing down. You have to constantly evaluate, tweak and adjust your goals so you are always moving forward.

A big part of staying after yourself is to “stay after others.” I don’t mean that in a micro-managing sense, but as a way of encouraging others.

The more you encourage others, the more you are encouraging yourself. There is nothing you can do that is more important than helping others along the way.

The month and the year may almost be over, but “staying after yourself” is continuous and always rewarding. Happy New Year, that’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Float Like A Butterfly Sting Like A Bee

In just three more days you’re going to be very, very busy. Next week has the potential to be one of the best selling weeks of the year. It will only be a really great week if you make it a great week. It’s not going to be a great week if you stay in your seat acting like a computer geek.

You can make it a great week by getting up and moving around. You should be like a bumblebee on a pollination mission. You’re here. You’re there. You’re everywhere.

You can’t just flap your little wings in place and think someone’s gonna sell a car.

You have to create the buzz. You have to go from being weak and meek in order to make it a great week.

I don’t like things to be all about you, but this is all about you. This week is all about you. It’s about you making things happen.

It’s about you contributing as much in a week as you sometimes do in a month. It’s not about you giving 100 or 110%. It’s about you giving 200%.

It’s not about asking others to do it. It’s about you doing it. You sometimes think you’re important. Well, you are important. You’re even more important than you think. At least this week you are.

You may have to sting a few people this week. That’s ok. Some of your team could probably use a sting or two. A little stinging pain for a whole lot of car selling gain.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, that’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs