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Leadership Solutions

Being a Team Player Without Being the Whole Team


It’s important to cross train and have team members be able to step in for each other if someone is on vacation or has to take a sick day. It’s dangerous to have only one person knowledgeable about a crucial role at your dealership; what happens when they can’t come in one day or decides to leave your team? 

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Expecting everyone on your team to be interchangeable, however, is neither realistic nor a good way to make the best use of their individual talents. Your people aren’t cogs in the machine; they each have their own interests and their own aptitudes.

Leaders should understand what every member of their team does on a daily, weekly and monthly basis for two reasons:

If someone is coasting by, doing the bare minimum or worse, it’s not fair to the others on the team. Nothing kills morale quicker than seeing unequal treatment of team members. Everyone should pull their own weight.


If someone is doing the work of others, along with their own duties, it’s not fair to them. Nothing kills initiative quicker than being “punished” with extra workload for having a willing attitude. No one should be expected to do more than their fair share.

Leaders should also get to know their team members and find out what it is they want to do. Putting the right people in the right positions — positions that put their talents to the best use — is the way to create a team ready to meet any challenge.


Talk to Your People and Find out What They Like

How well do you know your team? Not just their duties and their resume information, but do you know who they are as individuals? Do you know their hobbies? Their interests? Their short- and long-term goals? Do they have abilities that their current position doesn’t use — but another position might? Do you have hidden gems on your team? You’ll never find out if you don’t take the time to get to know them. And, if you can find a position — or build a position — that fits them better, you’ll both reap the rewards.


Reward the Overachievers

Almost every team will have one or two members who want to go above and beyond and take on challenges. They don’t mind going the extra mile, will happily fill in where needed and come up with ideas regularly. Take a look at their position and ask yourself if they could be moved up the line or, if not, if there is another way to reward them. They may be self-motivated, but knowing that their leader notices their hard work will reinforce their “can do” attitude — and show the others on your team that initiative is appreciated.


Cross Train Where it Makes Sense

Make sure more than one person knows how to handle each position on your team. As a leader, you should know what each person on your team does and, even if you can’t personally step in to fill a gap, be able to appreciate what their position entails. If it’s a technical position or one that requires specific training, know where you can find someone able to be brought up to speed quickly. Cross training, however, doesn’t mean that a person will be doing that job regularly, especially if it’s not something they particularly enjoy; it just means they can step in if need be.


Ideas vs. Ownership

If one of your team members has an idea, perhaps a way to fix what they perceive to be a problem in the sales process, should they automatically be put in charge of it? Sometimes they should, especially if it’s something they are directly responsible for. Other times, however, an idea based on an observation or “what if?” notion might best be handled by someone else, if handled at all. Make sure your team knows that you’re listening to them, but that new ideas will be discussed with the appropriate people and rolled out accordingly.


Are your people excited to come to the dealership each day because they know they’ll be putting their talents to work and make a difference, or do they dread Mondays because it’s the beginning of another week of “going through the motions”? Find out what they want to do, find a way to let them do it, and you’ll get their best.

Susan Givens

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