Article

Making Connections with Employees and Customers

September 2011, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Kirk Manzo - Also by this author


One of the most difficult tasks in dealing with others (customers and employees) is adjusting your communication to be truly effective. It has often been said that when you walk around with a hammer in your hand everything begins to look like a nail. Understanding that since not all individuals will applaud a direct and decisive communication style, it is important to make adjustments to positively influence those around you.

Leadership expert John Maxwell identified five different levels of leadership. The lowest level of leadership is what he calls positional leadership. At this level, compliance is merely a result of title. Subordinates will comply with requests only out of fear of repercussion and negative consequence. They perform the minimum required and prepare to launch out of the parking lot 15 minutes before the end of each shift.

By comparison, the highest level of leadership requires the leader to be willing to step back and allow others to lead. This willingness to transition into the background comes as a result of the leader properly investing the time and effort to transfer all the necessary skills to their next-in-line. The final step in this process requires the next-in-line to then teach all those same skills and knowledge to their subordinate, thus completing the circle. The goal of the great leader is not just to lead, but rather to have the courage to develop the next leaders within the organization. This is the key to future growth of the company.

Communicating effectively with your team and customers will enhance your position as a leader within the organization. Whether you are the dealer, general manager or a business manager, your success will be impacted by how well you can connect with those around you.

Ever notice how sometimes you instantly connect with a person you just met? There is a natural pattern of communication and behavior we all possess. While each person is unique, clearly there are similar patterns of behavior that exist. When examining this dynamic, understanding the four primary communication styles is critical to improving your understanding of human tendencies and preferences.

The first style of communicator (driver) is often described as a fast-paced, direct person. They tend to be decisive. Because their urgency to complete the task is so high, they often believe that the end justifies the means. Listening is not their greatest strength.

The second style of communicator (expressive) is highly motivated by recognition. Generally speaking, these people are, well, generally speaking. They possess great verbal skills and will light up any party. Just don’t expect them to be patient enough to provide documentation in detail.

Clearly, there are also those who look at the world through a more thoughtful set of lenses. They concern themselves not with speed, but rather with others’ feelings and the importance of being accurate. These people, classified as exhibiting the third style of communication (amiable), are mostly focused on stability and security. The status quo is not only acceptable; frankly, it is preferred. This person is the classic example of a team player and customers like this are as loyal as the day is long. If you have a business manager like this, customers will love them and the sales department will pull their hair out because of the all time they spend with each guest.

Last but not least, the fourth style is analytical. There are customers and staff who have a compelling need to be right. The idea of rushing to complete any task is unthinkable. Realize if you want something done right, give it to these people. If you want it done on time? Think again.

Realizing that customers and staff represent a broad spectrum of individuals, it can be comforting to realize there are ways to adjust your approach to best work with each of them.

Just remember when working with a driver, give them options and work quickly. Compliment the expressive and let them talk. Be patient and understanding with your amiable customers and staff. And of course have all your ducks in a row to gain the trust of the analytical people in your world.

Being in charge can be both a privilege and a burden, for heavy is the head that wears the crown. History is filled with stories of tyrants, but few great leaders. Become one of them by leading your team with courage and not fear!

Vol. 8, Issue 7

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