Select Your Managers Carefully and Empower Them to Build the Best Team 

To receive a promotion from individual contributor to manager is one of the most rewarding events in a person’s professional life.  It likely means that you excelled in your previous role and show significant potential to be a leader in the business.  In retail automotive, holding a sales or service management role is a necessary step in one’s journey to lead, or even own, an entire dealership.

Because of the responsibilities and far-reaching implications management entails, a dealer should take its decision to promote an individual sales or service employee into management very seriously.  Unfortunately, dealer leadership oftentimes will award management promotions solely based on the merits of one’s individual accomplishments.  Other times, promotions boil down to a matter of tenure and industry or dealership experience.  Simply promoting someone to a manager role based on past accomplishments and experience alone is not a recipe for success.

What’s more, most new managers — across all industries — do not receive any formal recruitment or interview training. Even if a dealership properly vetted an employee for managerial skills, such as empathy, leadership, conflict solving, etc., managers are typically left on their own to figure out best practices for attracting, selecting, and onboarding top talent.  These actions can be risky and leave the dealership — and the individual being promoted — in a vulnerable position.  Here are some practical tips that will help you ensure your dealership elevates the right workers and sets them up for success when it comes to building a team of their own.

Select managers carefully

Management is not for everyone.  Individual contributors routinely overlook this, and dealer leadership frequently forgets to promote it.  Before elevating your next star performer to a managerial role, give serious thought to two key areas. First, is this individual really interested in being a people manager and aware of what it takes to be one?  And second, does this individual have the requisite skills to be a good manager?  Let’s take a closer look at both questions below.

Before you decide to promote an individual contributor, start by inquiring if that is actually something the individual desires. Indeed, confirming that individual’s awareness of what a management role entails is really the first step in the process. Ideally, this will happen organically through discussions with that individual related to the dealership’s defined career paths.

Dealers should never assume that individual contributors truly grasp what it takes to be a good manager, particularly at your specific organization. Absent management experience at a previous company, uncovering if this person has ever managed a group outside of work can be instructive.  Additionally, potential managers must acknowledge they agree to accept the less-pleasant aspects of the job. To do this, consider asking questions such as:

  • How comfortable are you addressing your colleagues’ personal struggles?
  • Can you genuinely take responsibility for the failures of others on your team? 
  • Are you prepared to make less money than you did as an individual contributor?

Once you feel confident that this worker knows what it means to be a manager and still desires to take on the role, then it’s time to uncover if this person is actually cut out to manage and lead others.  Experts agree that soft skills, such as empathy, problem solving, and self-knowledge are most critical to and predictive of managerial success.  Additionally, ask yourself will this individual’s communication skills (e.g. with customers) translate well to the bi-directional, internal communication a manager typically engages in?

To answer these questions, refrain from over-relying on your own intuition.  Instead, during the interview process, leverage employee skills tests to ensure you’re drilling down into these aforementioned management skills.  

Empower managers to build the best team

Once you’ve taken the right steps to promote a colleague to manager, it’s time to set them up for success regarding a key function of their new role: interviewing. And because most managers at dealerships do not receive any formal interview training, it’s critical that the dealership has a streamlined, standardized evaluation process in place to follow. The process may include scripted interview guides or templates, skills and behavioral assessments and other verification tools that are automated and easy to track.  By making it easy for managers to follow a process and improve their hiring skills, the hiring effectiveness and efficiency gains that follow can have a big impact on your organization.

Additionally, dealers should hold managers accountable to follow that process.  Just as they will be measured and held accountable to follow other core operational processes, adherence to a hiring process is no different.  When it comes to accountability, a defined process will help managers measure and speed up their time to hire, complete all hiring steps, and achieve any existing hiring goals.  

Final thoughts

Dealers invest a tremendous amount of time and resources into training new hires and ensuring they have the tools they need to perform at high levels.  The same amount of time and resources should be given to the selection of new managers and development of their team building skills.  If you’re searching for more information on how to hire your best team, check out our Seamless Hiring Process Playbook.



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