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Let Employees Find Their Way

Be A Leader Not A Dictator

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[dropcap]I[/dropcap] don’t know about you, but I bought my store from an owner who was ready to get out, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time, working for him. By then, I’d been employed at a half dozen other dealers, and always came away with some great ideas as how to run a dealership, and many ideas as how not to run a dealership.

I’ve always been the type of person who analyzes everything around me; why does that work? Why does this situation keep coming up? How could I make things flow better?

I’ve worked for owners who believe they know everything, and employee suggestions are not worth considering. These owners will tell their staff what to do, and force it on them. I’ve also seen owners who are so indecisive that it’s a large problem for them to decide how to display the bikes in the showroom.

There are always problems within any business, and often I have what I believe is the perfect solution, but I will always listen to my staff when we are having our weekly meetings, where we discuss these problems. Before I present my solution, I try to elicit ideas and solutions from the staff. Sometimes, there are no great ideas. Sometimes they come up with an idea that is very close to the one I thought of.

If you find yourself in this situation, I hope you promote that idea from the staff as if it were not only a fantastic idea, but their fantastic idea! After all, if they have ownership of the solution, what do you think will happen? Do you think that maybe the process will be easier, or more difficult? Do you think that they will be perhaps more invested in the implementation? If you force it, and even if it is the most brilliant idea ever, they will often never be wholeheartedly behind it.

And sometimes, something marvelous happens; an employee who, having slightly different experiences than me, comes up with an elegant solution to our problem that is absolutely brilliant. This has happened to me many times, and I always let that employee, or those employees, run with it, and it often works out better than the solution I had arrived at.

Your employees are right there, living with the problem, day after day, and their outlook may be completely different than yours. When is the last time you spent an entire day at the parts counter, or the service counter, or the sales floor. True, some of you may work one of those positions every day, especially in a small shop.

But let’s face it; you’re also wrestling with the problems of the entire store at the same time, aren’t you? Sometimes, however, your employees are perhaps more motivated, or even more qualified than you (Gasp!) at their job. Let them take ownership of it.

I’m not promoting a touchy-feely management by group consensus; there lies madness. Rather, be a boss who guides his company with a steady hand on the tiller, but able to take advice, and talk about problems when it’s wise.

Let them find their way; be a leader, not a dictator. Sure, it’s your business, and no one knows the stresses and hard work that you do behind the scenes, but it’s also their life, and they need to feel that they are contributing.

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