On my new web site at www.ghaGPS.com, under the “Develop Your SELF” menu tab, I discuss how to achieve a Culture of Accountability. One of the most important elements of accountability management, Clearly Defining and Communicating Your Expectations, is a critically needed, but rarely well-practiced, discipline within the retail automotive industry. You’ve heard it before: people will rise to the level of performance and/or behavior that is set for them. Mind reading is not a job requirement for our employees, in spite of what some dealership managers think. Throughout my 30-year consulting experience, I’ve become convinced that most managers don’t set job expectations very well. They are often excellent at noticing when things aren’t done right, but when it comes to telling their employees up front what they want, they try to communicate by mental telepathy.
Performance and behavioral expectations are fundamental to building and sustaining a successful dealership operation. Expectations can be described as objectives presented in small, edible bites for employees. They set the standard for excellence. Managers must communicate what they expect from their employees today, tomorrow, next month, and next year. Many (if not most) managers in the retail car business fail to adhere to this discipline. They fail to tell their employees what the most important tasks are they should accomplish each day. They fail to communicate.
Where possible, expectations should be focused on activities, not results. Here are a couple of examples of some metrics you might use in defining expectations:
For a Vehicle Sales Consultant - inbound telephone appointment percentage, outbound phone and email follow-ups per day, number of CRM updates per day, demo percentage, number of potential vehicle replacements discovered on the service drive, etc.
For a Service Advisor – number of outbound status calls per customer per day, percent interactive walk-arounds, percent menu penetration, percent sales penetration on ASRs received from technicians, percent email penetration, etc.
Start with a vision of what you want the end result to be for the employee. Clearly define the activities required to produce the desired end result; these are your expectations. Today’s expectations should produce tomorrow’s results!
From the very beginning, establish your expectations in writing. A detailed job description or a set of job objectives is a MUST. An example of the “Job Objectives” format that I like best, It's More Than a Job Description.pdf, is available within FREE Stuff under the Browse Our Resources menu tab at www.ghaGPS.com. This format also serves as an employee evaluation tool. Also make sure that you ask employees to sign any document related to expectations. After the document is signed, give the employee a copy for his records. A signed acknowledgement of expectations stands to reinforce employee performance and behavior.
Never check for understanding of expectations by asking, “Do you understand?” Your employees don’t want to look stupid, so they will answer in the affirmative. Instead, ask questions about the expectations: “Which one is most important? Why? What will be your first steps? If you perform this activity as it’s laid out, what will the result look like?”
Set your expectations high…not so high that they are impractical or unreachable, but just high enough so your team has to stretch a bit to get there. Every professional believes that stretching is good for you!
If you feel you might need outside assistance in setting expectations or documenting job objectives, please call me at (561) 339-0043. There will be no charge for our initial conference, and I’ll be happy to provide you with some free samples. Remember, GH&A always provides Value First!