2020 brought an onslaught of challenges, fear, failure, and even death. But, as entrepreneurs, we constantly seek opportunity. This growth opportunity may necessitate a cultural shift, as we have mentioned (ad nauseum this year). And the biggest takeaway: agility is key. Agility comes from a sophisticated culture, and continuous training—read on to learn why. And, although this may come off as a big giant Currie commercial, hear me out. And I promise to keep it as brief and to-the-point as possible. My more devoted readers, who know me well, are rolling their eyes right now and bracing for a long read. But here goes:
Meetings – we are all trying to get more done with less people. The thought of sitting in a meeting is dreadful at this point in our post-covid upheaval. But we cannot effectively communicate unless we have ample occasion to meet face-to-face, and eye-to-eye. Many dealer groups quite loudly lamented the Microsoft Teams meetings we were holding, as they craved that physical and energetic interaction with their peer groups. This is no different for those within your organization, even if the meetings are virtual (and cameras are a must). The dynamic may be different for different types of meetings, and the purpose of your meeting(s) may be different, but the human element remains the same. Meetings are essential.
Training – although I will always believe that Currie training is king, the point is that all people, at all levels, desire and require development. You’ve heard this, right? Your Human Resources Department must constantly engage in maintaining a professional (and personal if that’s your culture) development path for every, single person on the team—not just the service technicians, not just the managers, but everyone. Remember the three big questions that new people will have at your company:
- Can I do the job?
2. Will I get training?
3. Will they like me?
These questions must be answered, in some fashion, every day in the life of your valuable people. Training is essential.
Women – Here’s a topic that we have discovered is quite controversial, even today in the post-covid, 21st century. After many phone calls to many dealers, I have learned that there is a surprisingly wide range of attitudes about having women in the dealership. Some owners and operations managers were unaware of their own biases, and others had a different attitude, which I will refrain from writing about…at least for today. Here are the responses I am able to summarize:
A. “Women bring a unique mindset, style, and set of talents that was previously untapped in our industry. Amen to progress and the opportunity that this population provides. We are actively seeking to get more women on the team.”
B. “Women are just as talented, just as capable, and every bit as hardworking and dedicated as men. There are no differences in their engagement and their abilities to work in any environment. In hiring, we are looking at talent and qualifications–other factors such as race, gender and cultural background do not matter.”
C. “Hiring women is threatening to the [male-dominated team]. I’m worried the guys will resent it if the dealership brings more women into leadership positions. It will damage morale.”
D. “Women belong on the back office only. No man should have to report to a female manager. My team feels this way as well.”
And yes, I have heard responses C. and D. in the not so distant past (yesterday), and I have heard it more often than I care to count. But I have also experienced most companies respond with either response A. or B. And I hate to say these guys are “on to something” because it still seems weird to me that this is even a conversation. But for those C. and D. dealers (see what I did there), I would like to continue to work with them to improve a mindset and a culture that is limiting to the dealership. There is a full half of the population that presents as a talent opportunity that the dealership is not pursuing. As mentioned in the beginning—do more with less. Shrinking our talent pool, or effectively cutting it in half, is not in the best interests of an evolving dealership with an evolving culture. Women are essential.
Now a quick reminder about a Harvard Business Review classic: Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow, by Larry Greiner. I constantly refer to this article because I’ve always seen it as ahead of its time, in a world where time is illusion. Please read the article again, with a mind that is open to a fresh perspective. The “crises” in the article are not specific to today’s crises, nor are the “revolutions” or the ensuing “evolutions” that happen in today’s dealership. But the teaching is still relevant, every single day. So read with a renewed reason and read between the lines. You, and the future of your businesses, are most definitely essential.