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All businesses need good leaders who know what it takes to be profitable, but also how to retain employees who are valuable to the business. Employee retention is key to profitability, as replacing someone takes a significant amount of time and effort. It can also result in lost revenue as the dealership sacrifices the opportunity to connect with and foster long-term relationships with consumers.
So, what makes for a good leader?
Well, I recently read a great article on SignalVoice that shares an interesting point: what leaders may THINK are good leadership traits aren’t necessarily what is most important to the team. Perhaps that is why, when it comes to retail employees, dealerships suffer up to 70% attrition, according to NADA.
The article shares a study which identifies that the key elements leaders think are needed to successfully lead are, in fact, the LEAST effective ways. According to the study, which focused on almost 600 employees and managers, the top three leadership traits were found to be as follows:
1. Vulnerability – In automotive retail, some managers tend to dictate orders such as, “Do what I say and don’t ask questions! Just do it!” 28 percent of the respondents in the study indicated that they want their managers to… well, be human, to express vulnerabilities openly with their employees; i.e., “I messed up. You were right,” etc. This builds trust and tends to motivate employees to be more willing to follow orders.
2. Communication – While “Just Do It!” may be a great slogan for Nike, to complete a task effectively, most people need to understand why a task is essential. And employees want good communication skills in a leader. In fact, 26 percent of respondents stated that making intentions behind your actions clear is the most effective way to build trust. It makes sense. If you explain the WHY in a way that can be clearly understood, employees are much more willing to follow those orders with purpose.
3. Commitment – 48 percent of employees thought their company was all talk; 28 percent felt that their manager was all talk; and, on the other side, 61 percent of managers believed that their employees were all talk. Amazing, right? A lot of employees and managers felt that most people were all talk… but no action.
In summary, employees want leaders who present themselves as ordinary people. Yes, they need to have authority to lead, but they should show an element of vulnerability, communicate well and follow up their advice with real actions. You can't tell a toddler not to touch the stove and then touch it in front of them. It will probably turn out badly for both of you.
The automotive industry can certainly be stressful, and managers are often overwhelmed with reports, customer complaints and goals they don’t feel they can achieve, or that they shouldn’t have to do in the first place. As the pace of recalls continues to rise and frustrated owners inundate your dealership, you’ll need a team of employees who enjoy their job, respect and are willing to follow the leaders they work for, and who carry out excellent customer service in every interaction.
The three traits revealed in this study are the traits that turn managers into leaders in the eyes of their employees and grease the wheels of successful team interaction throughout the dealership.
It’s a given that the more people willing to follow a manager as they believe in him or her, the more likely the dealership will be profitable, less stressful, run more efficiently and, in the end, turn a group of people from merely collecting paychecks, into a group that cares about each other and the success of the business.