Resetting the Path

Traveling around the country working with dealership teams, one thing has always proved true; it takes everyone involved doing their part to reach the end goal. A big part of my job is to make sure everyone understands their role and how they fit into the bigger picture. As you can imagine, this is a difficult task. It is difficult to get a stranger to buy into what you are asking them to do. Some employees understand right away, and some employees just don’t want to understand.

Every industry has this same problem, many employees seem to take the path of least resistance. If there is a shortcut in procedure, or a corner to cut, soon enough, the shortcut will just become the way.

We are living in a world where “change management” is the new power phrase. Employers are realizing pressure tactics of a decade ago lead employees to find employment elsewhere. How are we going to get employees to work smarter, more efficient and drive results?

I read an interesting quote this morning, “carrot-and-stick ways of motivating people are so last century”

I don’t think this is anything new, people have been motivated by affirmation for a while now. Was my first thought, but I read on.

“No matter how loyal your employees are, or how much pride they have in the company, they won’t be motivated to change just for the company’s sake. For your employees to be engaged, they need to see how they can realize their own goals through the collective change the company wants to make”- Keith Ferrazzi of Ferrazzi Greenlight.

Reflecting on this, I realized what Ferrazzi was saying, people need to be a part of something.

Painfully obvious when you think about it. Our society is moving into the digital age, charging at the forefront of this movement is social media. When you break it down, social media is a way for us to be connected, a part of the bigger society, a way for our voices to be herd (pun intended). Daily, we are crying out to be involved in something bigger than ourselves.

With this ammunition ready, I went to work this morning looking for any opportunity to talk about my new found motivational plan. After an hour or so, it dawned on me, this isn’t anything new either.

“Teamwork makes the dreamwork”, you’ve heard that before.

Employees have been told they’re part of a team forever, this message has gone stale. Its deeper than teamwork, there needs to be intention and involvement. We need to elevate the goal to not only be inclusive of the employee’s goals, but to depend on them. Here is where this gets tough, you can’t do this one employee at a time, this is a complex puzzle of moving pieces. It takes strategy.

Knowing all this, I decided to put this idea into practice.

The dealer I was visiting today, does a good job. But they have an issue, they are not completing the needed process to hit a certain metric. We will call this metric X. The team has found short cuts to get the job done, but by skipping steps they have seen a huge shortage in metric X. This is alarming because statistically, if you have a high percentage of X, you will increase every other measurable. In short, by cutting corners, they are costing themselves a lot of money.

Three times now, I have tried to motivate the team to finish the process the right way. I have shown them the direct result and how they’re missing money. The manager and I have worked on different ways to hold the team accountable if they skip steps, only to see them do it anyway. I even did the process for them, and they witnessed in real time what they could accomplish. Each time they went right back to what they did before, the path of least resistance.

This time however, I decided to ask each employee what their goal was, “why are you here?” To my surprise they were very honest. Each team member told me how they want to do better at their job. They wanted to grow their skillset to move up in their career. They wanted to help customers in a real way and be their “guy”, the trusted family mechanic. They just didn’t know how, it was easier to just keep doing what they’re doing. This I could work with.

The problem is that Metric X is as vague to them as it is to you, where is the intention?

I created a tool to track the progress of Metric X, this would serve as a tracker for the next 30 days to chart how they are doing. This time though, instead of telling the team they need to do this to make more money for the store, I told them this how they can grow their skillset, this is how they can help the customer, this is how they can be their “guy”, and I used specifics.

The manager, is to update this tracker and share with myself and the team every day. Everyone will get to see how everyone else is doing, this will bring competition to the team. There is a direct correlation of their success and their part in the big picture of the store. They are not only a part of the forest, they are the trees. I was pleasantly surprised to see how motivating this was for the team, I am very excited to see how the next few weeks pan out.

Leaving the dealer today I thought about how I can apply this same process to other stores. How can I leverage the goals of the team members I work with and drive that to reach the end goal of the company? If you are in management, I challenge you to do the same thing: what goals do your employees have that you can mold into an action plan for your company to grow?

If you are an employee, I challenge you to set a goal for yourself. What do you want to do, why did you go to work today? Then take that goal and approach your boss and paint the picture of how what you are doing will help the company. Its ok to recruit your own cheerleaders, I promise your boss is looking for ways to motivate you, most of them just don’t know how.

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