April 2010, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
Training people should be a top priority when developing a successful team. Most dealerships or dealer groups focus on improving salespeople while ignoring the skill set of employees in other revenue-generating departments. In addition to that, many ignore the most important group in a dealership—the management team. Your store may survive with a strong sales force, but it will never thrive without a competent management team. Training and developing your people includes all of your people.
Think of your key managers and ask yourself aquestion: “Have I equipped them with all the necessary skills they need to successfully lead my troops?” If your answer is “no,” do not despair. You can change this starting today.
You might be in a situation where you need to seek an outside source for your management training. You might be in a position to do it yourself. If you have a dealer group with several dealerships, you might already have a trainer/coach on staff. Whatever your situation is, creating a program to train your managers is essential to your organization’s long-term success. With that in mind, let’s look into the components of this program.
When you think about training, think about results you want your people to produce. Training for the sake of training is pointless. Your goal is to produce changes in behavior that generate results. Simply providing information that is “nice to know” is a waste of your time and theirs. To produce greater results, provide need-to-know training so that your managers can perform their duties effectively.
There are many definitions of management versus leadership in training literature today. Whatever philosophy you adhere to, your managers need to develop both management and leadership skills in order to succeed. It is critical to identify the gap between their current managerial and leadership performance and the results you want. Once this gap is established, it is time to develop a plan and to fill it with necessary training topics.
You will need to break down the two major subjects, management skills and leadership skills, and come up with creative ideas for training. Regardless of whether or not you trained your management team in the past, you can start with fundamental principles for both management and leadership. Think of the legendary Vince Lombardi. Every year, he opened his training camp by holding a ball and saying to his players, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Repetition of fundamentals has a dynamic affect on learning.
When creating a training curriculum for management skills, give attention to the areas of “people process” and “operations process.” The “people process” consists of the coaching and mentoring skills, team development abilities, and hiring and placing the right people in critical positions. The “operations process” will consist of training, managing the sales process, and performance review skills.
When designing your curriculum, it is essential to remember the need for practical application. Provide skills that can be used in their daily activities right away. Those new skills will need to be implemented and practiced to achieve the behavior changes needed to attain greater results. Stretching your management team’s performance is the ultimate goal of training.
Whatever training program you choose to develop for your managers, it is important that the program is ongoing. There are two major elements that are essential to measuring training success: follow-up and follow-through. The old saying “inspect what you expect” is especially true in assessing training results. The training material must be reviewed, implemented and inspected.
Let’s recap the above information. Re-align your focus on training your management team. Assess your team’s current skills status. Design a program that will focus on their management and leadership skills development. Examine where they are now, and train them to get them to where you want them to be. Train skills that are relevant and can be easily implemented. Follow up and follow through with training to measure its success. Remember, developing your people is your job and no one will do it for you. The degree of your organization’s success is directly proportional to the skill level of your management team.
Vol. 7, Issue 2