Starving for Attention

I’m sitting in the manager’s office. He’s got the blinds up and is pointing to the showroom floor.

“That’s him – third desk. Ed. When he started, I thought the guy would be a natural. Young, good-looking, knows the cars, knows finance, friendly, great recommendation… I think I must have spent $10K on getting him trained. But I don’t understand him. He’s making me look bad, like I can’t pick ‘em anymore. The other guys are starting to crack jokes. I’m tired of talking at him. Unless you have something up your sleeve, he’s gone.”

I turned it around on him. “Let’s talk about what you haven’t done”.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had this conversation. Managers have a favorite line – “this guy just doesn’t have what it takes for the car business”. Before you jump and “blow him out”… perhaps ask yourself these questions.

  • What tools and resources have you provided to ensure an increase in his productivity?


  • Are you more worried about protecting your own reputation than about assisting him? (are you one of the guys or do you have what it takes to be a coach)


  • If the others are making jokes, what does that say about your team-building efforts?


  • Perhaps it’s a salesperson who can’t get his paperwork straight instead of sending him out to the customer every three minutes take the lead meet the customer and demonstrate what’s required to get the deal done.

The manager doesn’t like it when the onus falls on his shoulders perhaps it’s easier to point fingers?  “What should I do?”

Look, it’s tough when the new guy can’t produce. But if you don’t understand him, then it’s on you. The first step in reversing the situation is finding out what makes him tick. Get into his skin – only then can you find new ways to motivate him. If that means leaving your comfort zone, so be it. Certain people need praise, need to see passion in others. They require additional direction and feedback. “You reap what you sow” comes to mind. These are “soft” skills and some managers aren’t comfortable with cheerleading.

My feeling is that this is the manager’s opportunity to groom his team, turn around a potential superstar, and experience a little personal growth. Everyone on the team needs guidance and praise now and then. Whenever I consult at a dealership, I usually can spot the “Ed” – just about every operation has one. I have found that many underachievers respond to extra assistance and encouragement, to understanding how important they are to the team. Ed has to understand that management and the rest of the staff want him to succeed. Passionately! Your leadership skills are what got you where you are today – use them to help Ed overcome his obstacles to success. If you’re confident that you’ve done everything possible, then sure, let him go. Just don’t pull the trigger until you’ve gone the extra mile. 

Becky Chernek

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