Last month, our monthly contributor and my long-time friend, Don Reed of DealerPRO Training, mentioned the concept of dealerships incorporating an employee council for in-dealership feedback. (See “Employee Retention Impacts Owner Retention” on page 32 of our April 2019 issue.)
The concept entailed each dealership department electing one person to represent that department at a luncheon with the dealer principal. After all, who knows your dealership better than those who are there day after day?
Each council member is asked to bring any concerns and their ideas for improving any department in the dealership. The twist is, they need to also provide the solution for their concerns.
When I read this, I thought it was an ingenious idea, and wondered how many dealerships are taking advantage of a process like this. Not only do you have a built-in “concern resolution session,” as Don put it, but you also have employees who feel heard and appreciated, which will likely increase employee retention and satisfaction.
An additional benefit is the possibility of diffusing office conflicts before they happen or get worse.
Matias Rodsevich, who runs communications at Impraise, a “people-enablement platform,” wrote on Glassdoor.com that a “benefit of a strong feedback culture, is that it gives employees the tools to address issues before they escalate. When people don’t feel able to share feedback with one another even on the smaller things, over time they can transform into larger issues. On the other hand, when people are used to regularly sharing feedback, they become more comfortable with having these difficult conversations.”
“Getting into the habit of sharing feedback means they are better equipped to address any kind of situation rather than bottling it up,” Rodsevich said.
You may want to start by bringing in lunch, but often a change of scenery will help people relax and feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns.
“People will naturally be cautious at first, so be prepared to direct the meeting by discussing key initiatives and asking questions until the conversation starts flowing,” Bonnie Monych, a performance specialist at Insperity, said. “Talk about how you’re there to learn from them.
“Listen carefully, take notes and be careful not to dismiss concerns you feel aren’t important,” Monych continued. “Remember, employees who see only a narrow slice of the organization may express what seems like a small issue. But what they point out could be indicative of systemic problems.”
After the meeting, Monych recommends sending a thank-you email with answers to any questions that required quick research. “Acknowledge that more complicated issues will require additional time. Give an estimated timeline for when you’ll have answers and stick to your promises.”
Knowing you care about their concerns and well-being can truly make an impact on our employees. Keeping the lines of communication open can help you remedy issues before they get out of hand and stop the cycle of losing valuable employees.
If you have a story from a successful employee council of your own, please share it with me. Your successes could help other dealers and managers keep great people in our industry.
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