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Goals, Vision and Your Team

No one does their best work in a vacuum; we all need feedback and a sense of where we are in the process.

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A group of individuals will only take a business so far. When it comes to moving the needle for a department — or the entire dealership — you need your team working together, pulling in the same direction to reach the same goals. Leaders know how to share a vision that will forge that team, allowing everyone to accomplish things they never would have been able to do separately. Here are some ideas on building that vision and getting the buy-in you need from your team:

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Clear, Specific Goals

A vaguely worded goal is no one’s friend. “Improve service,” “Increase sales” or “Do better this year” are not goals; they are wishes. Goals need to be time sensitive, specific and measurable. “Increase ROs by 15 percent in two months,” “Sell 20 more units in January” and “Increase YOY revenue by 18 percent” are concrete and quantifiable. Everyone knows what the end result should look like, and you can start putting a plan into place.

Share the Reasons Behind Decisions

Edicts from on high don’t move people at a root level. They may try to meet goals that seem to them arbitrary, but their heart and soul won’t be in it. To fully engage your team to meet a goal, take a moment to describe why that goal is important. If, for instance, you’re installing a new CRM system, let everyone know what benefits both they and the dealership will see once everyone is on board.

Action Plans

Setting goals is only the first step. To achieve those goals, you need to have plans in place for each person working with you. To get their top performance, take the time to speak with each member of your team and discuss what they can contribute to the overall plan. They might have ideas as to where their talents could best be used, and they’ll see themselves as an essential part of the whole.

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Getting Feedback

There’s an old saying that “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” It’s necessary to have a well-thought-out plan when you’re striving for more or better ways to do things — you’ve got to start from somewhere — but it’s also important to see how that plan is proceeding once implemented. What’s working? What’s not? Take the time to talk with your team regularly and see how things are going. The best plans aren’t set in stone, but adapt to real-world conditions.

Top Down vs. Bottom Up

As well as leaders might know the people on their team, they won’t have the same experiences. Each team member has a day-to-day experience when doing their work and sees things from their unique angle. They might see an inefficiency in the process that the leader would never know about. Seek ideas from your team and ask them what they see as problems with potential solutions. You don’t have to act on every suggestion, but just knowing they were heard gives the people you work with a sense of ownership in the process.

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Share Ongoing Results

Once your vision and plans have been set into motion, be sure to share how things are going on a regular basis. No one does their best work in a vacuum; we all need feedback and a sense of where we are in the process. If things are going well, let them know you’re proud of them and they should keep up the good work. If things aren’t going well, it’s time to take another look at the plan and see where things could be improved. Again, your people see things from a different angle than you will; use those differing vantage points to your team’s benefit.

Go Over Results

When you reach your goal’s end date (end of the week, month, quarter, year, etc.), take the time to discuss how things went. What worked? What could have gone better? Who went above and beyond? When people are fully involved in a process, they need to know how the results of their time, attention and efforts turned out.

Brainstorm for the Future

There are very few “one-time” efforts in our industry. You’re never going to sell all the cars; there’ll be customers tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. Once the timeframe for a goal has passed, look at the results with your team and start crafting your next set of goals, armed with the experience you all just gained. Now that your team has been through this cycle, see if they have ideas that could be implemented or have suggestions for new goals.

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By setting clear goals and working with their teams, true leaders can raise both their team and their business up to heights no one would have thought possible. Creating that vision makes all the difference.

Susan Givens

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