The Showroom

Five Faults That Destroy A Team

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by George Dans - Also by this author

Have you ever thought about the word “team” and how important it is to your dealership and its current and long-term success? Do you have a great management team in place right now? What about your sales team? Do you have a bunch of major players or a bunch of minor league players who are on the downside of a mediocre career destined for anonymity? Doesn’t a team have to be in sync to run big numbers? Great teams don’t need great talent. They need courage, faith and persistence to run big numbers together. The days of the lone wolf are over; you can’t do it by yourself.
You know with all the current technology and systems that are in place, teamwork has been thrown to the wolves. It’s like dog eat dog, vicious sometimes, isn’t it? People are looking to move up and sometimes stepping on others to get there. What a waste, eh?

You see, the problem is that the big cheeses really can’t measure teamwork. So, why worry about something you can’t measure? Most people are far too busy worrying about making the month at all costs, so teamwork is sacrificed. But don’t most teams win because of great teamwork? Look at the Patriots, Red Sox, my Dodgers of yester year and so on. Great leaders build great teams. One of the killers of teamwork is turnover, isn’t it? You hire the new person, observe them for a while, and decide if you like them. If not, blow ‘em out. Been there, done that. What a time killer that is. How about the new sales person you just hired? Nice person, looks somewhat OK. Some of your salespeople and management do their silent walk around, check them out, make a bet and decide if they will last. Have you ever seen that? What about the old timer that won’t take time to say hi to the new guy and treats them like they have leprosy. What another waste of time and energy.

You will never build a great team with rotten apples. As a matter of fact, if you put one bad apple into a bushel of nice ripe ones, I promise, the bad apple will ruin the good ones. I would suggest a strong one-on-one with that type of person. There isn’t any room for that kind of behavior, is there?
There are some major faults when it comes to what will destroy teams. Let me list them for you:
  • Lack of trust
  • Fear of conflict or failure
  • Lack of commitment to team
  • Avoidance of accountability
  • Lack of focus on measurable activities and results
If you have these floating around your dealership, I would suggest you sink them ASAP. I would replace them or recondition quite quickly. As a matter of fact, get out the balloons or the tent sale and blow these out at a very large discounted price.
Let’s look at this list and determine how we can build a better team. For trust, you have to be open with people in a safe environment where they can discuss, without punishment of loss of position or loss of job, what the true problems are. You can do that in department head meetings or a one-on-one meeting. You’ve got to get to the truth by cleaning out or getting rid of any filters that prevent the truth from coming out. With conflict, people should be able to say what they feel. Don’t be afraid to disagree with people. If you’re afraid, then at the end of the day you’re just somebody’s assistant. State your point or reasons to approve or disapprove. Just don’t turn it into a complaint session or be the head complainer. It is far better to bring solutions than bring problems without solutions.
With commitment, it can’t be a part time deal; you’re in or out. You can’t use gray paint in this area. It's black and white here. Giving your word isn’t good enough, stepping on your word with your full weight is how you give a commitment. Accountability is a word that is very hard to find in most dealerships. For some strange reason, it’s too hard to hold people accountable for their performance. Make it a team goal where you have several people involved in the goal; that way people won’t let down their peers so easily. Come up with team goals and then assign certain tasks to the team members along with a timeline on when projects need to be completed. The days of the start and stop programs died when hockey died, or so I think. What a joke, with all their money and power, they couldn’t get the teams to agree. Such a waste. It starts from the top down, doesn’t it?
The leader sets the vision, and the management carries the team to the goal by building a team of dedicated people who are committed to the result. I would get every person in your dealership involved in reaching the goal. By that, I mean any person who works in your dealership should be a part of the big goal. The days of just having the salespeople get you to your goal are over. I’m so sick and tired of hearing that dumb old Pareto saying from the 1700’s that said, 80 percent of production is done by 20 percent of the people. So, who cares about that dumb rule? What are the other 80 percent of the people; useless? Not.
I’ve shared the problems and the how to get over them with you. I wish I had more space. Send me an e-mail and I will be glad to help you build your team. I know the principles work. I remember when I was coaching hockey years ago and my '93 team went 26 and 0. We won state that year with a bunch of kids that nobody wanted. I believed in them and them in me. I asked one question. How many games do you want to lose this year? Every kid said, “NONE coach!” Over the next seven months I told them every time I was with them, at practice, during the game, on the phone or in a one-on-one, what it takes to be perfect. We all will strive for that goal. We will pay the price for success. Faith in each other, courage to change, desire to be great, so determined to reach number one, an inner drive that will always be in a state of hunger, and an appetite to learn that can’t and won’t ever become full are all necessary.
You’re the head coach. You’ve got to use common sense with people, treat people fairly with respect. Don’t be afraid to step on landmines such as accountability or responsibility. You get respect by giving it; you get power by empowering people. You get trust by giving trust. How come it seems so simple yet is hard to grasp? Maybe you should stop looking for the perfect people, maybe you have them. Give them a chance to step up and jump behind the wheel, and point your course to your goal. I’ve often heard people say, I hope my ship comes in. Jonathan Winters said, “Swim and meet your ship.”
I’ve always said, “Don’t forget to send your ship out.” Keep your team’s eye on the goal, and you will find out soon enough, you will reach your goal. You don’t all need to know how to get to your goal; you all just need to know that you will get to your goal.
Be good, be safe.
Vol 2, Issue 5

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