Archive for January, 2020

Shift into Attack Mode

Friday, January 31st, 2020

Einstein famously observed that insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. Early in a new year is an ideal time to evaluate your dealership for “insane” behaviors and make needed adjustments.
One key reason dealership leadership fails in this regard is that their current success drains urgency and fosters complacency. They point to how well they’ve done and use it as a permission slip to pledge allegiance to the status quo, and thus precipitate their eventual decline by adopting a maintenance – rather than a stretching – mindset and approach.
Even if you’re at the top of your game, if you aspire to climb higher, it’s important to remember that whatever got you here won’t get you there. In fact, if what got you here were enough to get you there, you’d already be there; and the fact you’re not there indicates something must change. Following are three basic but essential first quarter resolutions to evaluate and consider, and to adjust as necessary, to shift your dealership into attack mode early in the first quarter – a quarter that goes a long way in setting the tempo and pace for 2020

  1. Define or redefine performance standards for each department, and for each team member within that department.

If you want great job performance you’ve got to define it, train people to execute it, and hold them accountable daily for doing so. Here are five guidelines for performance standards:

• They should be in writing and gone over with each team member. If you’re not serious enough to put them in writing and have people sign off to acknowledge you’ve explained them and they understand them, you’re just not serious enough about results, period.
• There should be consequences for performance failure. The difference between a performance standard and a performance suggestion is the consequence.
• They should be introduced in a positive manner, and not in a threatening, high-handed manner. Something like this may work well for you:

Team, it’s early in a new year and we have some lofty goals to hit in 2020. As I look in the mirror, I realize I haven’t been as clear as I should be in the past concerning what I expect from each of you and by when. I own that, and I’m changing it today. When this meeting is over, I want to get with each of you individually and get us on the same page with clearer targets that will help you become more successful and take better care of your families. If we all step up a little bit this year, we can make something very special happen in this dealership.
• You need a blend of activity and outcome performance standards. Most dealerships do far better with the latter: “x” number of units this month, “X” hours per RO, etc. However, since the activities create the outcomes, you can dramatically improve performance by doing a better job of outlining the key daily activities in each position most predictive of attaining the desired outcome and holding people accountable for executing those vital daily actions.

• When you redefine performance standards make sure they’re high enough. The sweet spot for performance standards is to ensure they’re neither too high nor too low, because people mentally check out in either case. The key is to believe in your heart that they can be attained, but that they can’t be attained with business-as-usual activities or efforts. Something must change. Low expectations presume incompetence. High expectations on the other hand create a healthy urgency to stretch, make better use of time, and more.

Concerning creating clear performance standards, keep in mind that you should never apologize for being clear, for expecting a lot, or for establishing consequences for performance failure. Rather, you should apologize for the opposite: being unclear, creating confusion and indifference, and allowing people to underperform on your watch and miss their potential as individuals and as teammates.

2. Establish growth objectives for yourself and each team member for 2020.

Where do you and your people need to improve this year: time management, accountability, a high structured daily routine, more discipline, better attitudes, improved skill development, stronger coaching skills, improving hiring techniques, etc.? Here’s some hard truth for you: life isn’t just going to come along and magically improve you or anyone else in your dealership in key areas like those mentioned. You don’t improve by showing up, but by stepping up. You and they must become more intentional in your growth development. Intentional means on purpose; it’s about getting specific and outlining a growth path for you and them in the areas most relevant to your position and needs.
A key leadership tenet is this: If you want your team to get better you’ve got to get better, and just showing up isn’t enough to pull that off. You’ve got to step up and specifically outline growth objectives for yourself, resource those growth objectives, and do the same for each team member. It’ll cost you time and money, but the cost of not getting better is staggering.

3. Drop your “go-to” excuse(s).

This is a mindset issue, and it’s become a devastating habit for managers and dealers alike. When things don’t go well these weak-sticks whip out their black belt in blame and belch out their “go-to” excuse for why they missed the mark: “the time of year,” “the competition is giving cars away,” “the weather is bad,” “the inventory isn’t right,” “another department is screwing up,” “the manufacturer is the problem,” “the advertisers aren’t doing their job,” and the like. This verbal vomit does a highly effective job of taking one’s focus off the aspects of the job he or she can control, and places it on things they can often do little or nothing about; which, in turn, renders the leader to a contagious victim-status that infects the team and should disqualify one from the privilege of leadership. While some or all the elements listed—external conditions—may impair results to a degree it is one’s daily decisions more than conditions that ultimately determines their success. Excuses are the DNA of underachievers. They make you common, unproductive, and undesirable. Make 2020 the year you give them up so you can go up! After all, at the end of the day, a leader’s lame, tame, shameful excuses for why he or she didn’t get the job done they’re being paid to do may be the most blatant example of insanity of all. Do better in 2020!