Ultimately, we all are measured by results. However, results alone can be a misleading indicator for how effective a manager is in his or her role. For instance, while speaking recently in the UK, I cautioned that the fact they have the fastest growing economy in the western world, and are having their best automotive retail sales year since 2005, is very possibly disguising the stench of mediocre management within aspects of their operations. Hot economies, popular products and favorable incentives make the terrible appear tolerable, the subpar look good, and the good appear great.
To gain a more objective view of your manager’s actual effectiveness you must dig deeper and examine four key areas that serve as an acute and telling report card of their true abilities and impact.
1. Culture. A leader is the chief architect and primary influencer of his or her culture. They can either shape it productively, or have it destructively shaped by outside forces like indifference and entitlement. Culture is palpable; you feel it before you see it. In high performing cultures the following traits are common fare:
Week cultures, on the other hand, are the result of complacent leaders who lead from their office chair and ride market momentum—going through the motions—rather than maintain a daily killer instinct intent on running up the score. Traits common within such cultures may be any of the following:
At the end of the day, culture makes up a significant portion of a leader’s report card because it directly reflects the image of the person responsible for it. Strong products, robust consumer demand and aggressive incentives can disguise cultural infections like those listed, and the deficient leader creating, or enabling, them.
2. The quality of people they’ve attracted and developed. Without question, the quality of culture a leader creates helps determine the quality of people they’re able to attract and retain. Thus, evaluation points one and two in this piece are cousins. Here are some checkpoints to evaluate this key leadership responsibility:
In my book, Up Your Business: Seven Steps to Fix, Build or Stretch Your Organization, I explain the business Law of Attraction which states that: Leaders don’t attract who they want, but who they are. In other words a “6” leader is not going to attract 8’s, 9’s or 10’s; nor can he develop someone to those levels. Thus you can greatly judge the quality of your leaders by objectively evaluating the quality of the people they’ve attracted and developed; like culture, they are in his or her image.
3. How they’re getting results. Most dealers are so delighted when a manager gets results they fail to look closely at how he’s getting them. That can blind a dealer to future problems with this manager because the how shows where he or she is headed. Let me explain:
I know in our fast-paced world we like to glance at results, see that they’re good, declare that we’ve got a racehorse manager, and move on to what’s next. But to accurately evaluate your manager’s abilities you’ve got to dig deeper into the how. It portends the manager’s future.
4. Their performance versus market. If Audi sales are up by 23% nationally, and my Audi manager’s department was up by 18%, I may have a problem. When Nissan sales are down 8%, but my Nissan manager’s department is flat, I may have an eagle. Obviously, you can’t look only at market conditions, but they must be weighed into the four-part equation.
There are always “exceptions”, “we’re unique because…” and other “yea-buts” that can excuse, explain, or acclaim performance. This is why to get a true picture of your manager’s worth you must evaluate all four of these factors: culture, people, the how, and market performance. While there are a host of other helpful criteria, these four are simple, easy-to-measure, and will go a long way in telling your manager’s real story.