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One of the questions on the NCM Institute post-class surveys is, “Which of the trainings presentations or topics were the most useful to you?” One of the most prevalent answers we see is “Time Management.”
This is interesting because the subject seems to be of a lot greater importance to dealership managers than those of us involved in retail automotive thought leadership have always believed. The quandary I’m now trying to resolve is, whether NCMi should devote more content to time management, and, if so, what, and how much? My research has taken me in some interesting directions and I’ve decided to share my conclusions.
I’ll begin with a quote from Stephen Covey, who authored The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and is considered to be a time management guru: “Time Management is a misnomer. The challenge is to manage ourselves.” Covey recognized that the misnomer is that we can actually manage time. It can’t be done. Time just keeps ticking by…second by second by second. We can’t make time “do” anything. We can only manage our actions within the time we have. Maybe then, a more descriptive phrase for the subject we need to address is Action Management.
In the NCM Institute course, Leading Your Dealership Team to Success, we begin by discussing recent studies which report that more than 75% of the workforce admit to not being fully engaged in their jobs. This lack of engagement is caused by our inability to manage our own actions (and those of our subordinates), and it results in a huge loss in productivity. But is the lack of full engagement (and resultant loss in productivity) related to time management issues, and, if so, how? Pursuing the answer to this question led me to Tony Schwartz, who has recently become one of my favorite thought leaders. Tony has some “best practices” to improve engagement and productivity…however, we in the retail automobile industry will need to think of Tony’s recommendations as “next practices.”
Tony’s philosophies revolve around the concept of Energy Management, and his website is aptly named www.TheEnergyProject.com. I strongly encourage you to go there and look around, take the “energy audit,” and read some of his blog articles (particularly those that were highly rated by Harvard Business Review). From one of his blog articles, here is a sampling of a couple of myths that Tony Schwartz has disproven:
“Myth #1 – Multitasking is critical in a world of infinite demand. This myth is based on the assumption that human beings are capable of doing two cognitive tasks at the same time. We’re not! Instead, we learn to move rapidly between tasks. When we’re doing one, we’re actually not even aware of the other. And when we try to multitask we incur ‘switching time,’ which increases the completion time of the primary task by 25%.”
“Myth #4 - The best way to get more work done is to work longer hours. No single myth is more destructive to employers and employees than this one. The reason is that we’re not designed to operate like computers…at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time. Instead, human beings are designed to pulse intermittently between spending and renewing energy. Great performers…and enlightened leaders…recognize that it’s not the number of hours people work that determines the value they create, but rather the energy they bring to whatever hours they work.”
The last paragraph includes the phrase “enlightened leaders.” Unless you are an enlightened leader, you will not be quick to embrace Tony Schwartz’s beliefs (or any next practices, for that matter). However, I hope that many of you, after visiting Tony’s website, will understand that another definition of the CEO acronym needs to become “Chief Energy Officer.”
So what about our future NCM Institute time management content? Well I can assure you that, at the least, for all senior management courses (GMEP, Principles of General Management I, and Principles of General Sales Management II) the content will be expanded to include both Action Management and Energy Management. The decision to significantly change the content of NCMi departmental management training is still to be determined.