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The building blocks of empowerment

October 27, 2011
Filed under Dealer Consultants

First of three in series.

Your whole team knows what to do and is clear on what is expected, right? Hmm… is this something you know for sure, or do you surmise this?

Just because that new counter kid knows a computer and rides a dirt bike doesn’t mean he knows what to do at his job. The same applies to all your managers and team members, all the way down to the lot kid, although the lot kids sometimes seem to be the clearest about their job.

Where you start, what you do and how change is accomplished is just as important as the end result. The better the foundation is laid, the better it will be for controlled, sustainable growth. Clarity and empowerment are good places to start — everyone should know what is expected explicitly and clearly, not by immaculate reception. Everyone should know how important they are and how important their job is, even the lot kid.

The idea of empowerment can be overwhelming. Managers are worried about delegating. (“It just won’t get done unless I do it myself.”) Team members are given tasks without clarity on how to prioritize them or accomplish them, and now everyone is frustrated.

Empowering people to work with autonomy and confidence needs to be cultivated. It’s a mindset that comes with mentoring, training, clear job descriptions and consistent leadership. Start with small tasks that can be accomplished on a daily basis and build from there. How many times have we all said, “You have to walk before you can run,” or “Baby steps first?”

Be clear in your expectations. Telling someone to go straighten things up and bring stuff out is not the clearest form of instruction. It does nothing to build confidence or a sense of value in that team member. Explain clearly: This area needs to be fronted and faced daily, and stocked with the appropriate items. Explain clearly: This task is important to the profitability of the department. Say clearly: “I have faith in you to get the job done right, and I notice when you do.” Say clearly: “I’m always available to help you do your job better. Ask me.”

That’s called empowerment. Praise the work done well, and counsel when it’s not. Teach and mentor so your team understands the “hows” and “whys” of their job. An empowered employee is an invested employee who will take ownership of their piece of the big picture. If you train with clarity and precision, with clear expectations and with praise and recognition, your baby steps will turn into running leaps for your dealership’s morale and profitability.

Remember, you are the leader. You set the bar. Your team is watching you. Your team cares as much, or as little, as you do. Be responsible, and tend to the details — right down to the lot kid.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”
— Mark Twain

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