Recently I spent some time speaking with a friend who is a middle manager for a medium size luxury car dealership. It came to my attention through our conversation that some dynamics within his dealership aren’t working the way they should and this has been stifling the productivity. For example; the sales people bring him deals in which the paperwork is not filled out or the required information such as driver license are missing from the file.
I asked the question, “Who makes these people accountable”? Well the surprising thing is that like most dealerships, the managers are so busy they don’t have any accountability measures in place to counteract this persistent problem. Usually the managers are so busy putting out fires due to the very items that require accountability measures in the first place.
Our conversation slowly gravitated towards the service department and centered on how that department cannot meet the needs of the sales department. New and used car inspections are being neglected and are not made to be a priority. This type of damaging scenario must be stopped at once from the management team as a collective before moving forward in a positive productive way. Considering the sales department is the service department’s best customer and the potential customers wanting to purchase a vehicle are the bread and butter of every single person employed at the dealership, you would think the issues would be resolved immediately.
I asked the question, why were the same issues repetitive and why did they keep coming back month-after-month consistently plaguing this dealership. The answer I received shocked me. The senior management had a meeting and tabled items like the ones outlined above including other issues such as the low CSI and parts obsolescence issues. Unfortunately some of the middle managers pointed fingers but didn’t roll up their sleeves and find out WHY certain issues were happening. It so happens that these middle managers also aren’t held accountable to a high enough standard to hold the employees beneath them to any sense of standards, as well the middle managers are not empowered to make accountability strategy decisions.
I truly believe that every item we discussed that evening can be rectified inside a two week period if the upper management would first hold the middle managers accountable by giving a strict outline of WHAT needs to be done WITHIN WHAT time frame. Step two is to give the senior managers the empowerment needed to hold their subordinates accountable in the same fashion. Unfortunately the top management at this dealership makes all decisions and all accountability rests within that position, nothing will change until this particular manager gives away some measure of control to the middle managers.
Meetings will do absolutely no good, until middle management takes responsibility to make decisions and hold their departments accountable on all levels. I believe that you should not emulate your boss to become them, I believe you must be yourself and make decisions that are right for your department, be responsible to the business and let that principle guide you.
Too many people try to be someone else, just be yourself and bring that quality to work with you each day. Most certainly we all have leaders that we envy and wish we could be more like them, practice the art of good judgment and good decision making and more leaders will envy you and want to be you.
In this particular case if I were the sales manager or the service manager I would be having a meeting with my entire team outlining where the issues were, what we were going to do and what is to be expected from every member of the team.
Accountability means nothing unless you follow through on your outlined list of consequences. Again, inspect what you expect! If you tell every one of your salespeople, “should a file come to the desk without the necessary required documentation you will be written up”, you better make sure you follow through on that threat! Once management writes a few people up, the message will have been sent and your problems will fast disappear. Put your money were your mouth is! Grab the bull by the horns and make good things happen, why wait for someone else to start the ball rolling. We as managers must be willing to do what is right for the business, customers and the employees who are doing it right. Bring passion and a desire to effect positive change in your department each and every day.
I purchased an on-line audio book titled Crush it by Gary Vanerchuk, I have had the pleasure of viewing some of Gary’s online videos and I have included one that kind of fits the theme be yourself at work and make good things happen, define who you are and make decisions that are right and just by using your own DNA. To see Gary’s video click on the link box to the right titled Execute on being you.
Too many middle managers get stuck in a rut of playing follower to the manager above. Don’t get me wrong here, we all have to follow our managers, when the business is stagnating mix it up, try changing a few things on your own and see if they work. You will never know how great you or the business can be unless you try. Again, to make things happen, sometimes you need to grab the bull by the horns and beg for forgiveness later rather than ask for permission to promote positive change today. Change is ongoing, roll with it!