What Makes a Great Manager

What Makes a Great Manager

Behind successful auto dealership employees are successful managers. 

A manager’s most important job is to make decisions that help to make people more successful, period.

If every person a manager is responsible for succeeds, everyone wins.  Look at Dunkin’ Donuts. It follows a simple formula. To retain satisfied, loyal customers, it must serve quality food, quickly in a positive manner. It needs to keep the line moving, whether inside the store or at the drive-thru.

The manager’s job is to make sure all employees understand their priority is serving customers. The manager helps his people succeed by working side-by-side with them. It is leading by example. This simple formula makes the Dunkin’ Donuts business flourish.

The same is true for every business regardless of the industry, including auto retailing.

Unfortunately, most managers don’t really know what their jobs are. When managers don’t know that, and when they don’t manage using a consistent process, there’s trouble.

It leads to questions such as, “Who trained your manager to be a manager?” and “What schools exist that successfully train and educate people to manage people?” The answer to the second question is that there are none. Schools teach people how to manage things: profit and loss, inventory, product development, manufacturing, inventory, quality, etc.

They don’t really teach people how to manage people. All of us are in the people business! Every business is all about people.

How many times have you heard or said, “If I only had the right people?” Well, who developed the people you have? It’s management’s job to do so. New managers come to their role in one of two ways: they are hired from outside or they are promoted from within.

Those that are promoted from within typically have an edge. They understand established policies, procedures and processes. They know the company, culture, people, vision, strengths and weaknesses.

Those hired from outside, while expected to hit the ground running, don’t have this essential knowledge. As a result, they use systems and processes from their old company and make changes that might not fit their new environment.

Good managers who are promoted from within make changes that enhance the process. They don’t try to upend it.

They seek input from the people who have first-hand experience, then use the feedback to adjust and improve. They don’t adjust processes to fit the people. They help people perform using established processes and make sure the right people are in the right job.

Great managers lead by example. They start off each day by making sure everybody is ready to do business. They conduct daily meetings, making sure they have a positive attitude, set goals and focus on them and keep everyone working from the game plan.

They never stay put in their offices, surrounded – or protected – by walls. Instead, they interact with people and know about what goes on.

Good managers have had opportunities to succeed, fail and learn from day-to-day interactions. They’ve invested time and effort into learning the business.

They understand the need to develop people, to leverage their strengths and to work on their weaknesses. They outline and communicate roadmaps, coach, train, educate and guide. They praise in public and criticize in private.

Great managers understand that in order to move ahead themselves, they need to train their own replacements.

No business should ever be manager-broken. When managers truly understand their job is to ensure other people’s success everyone wins, including the customer.

Richard F. Libin is the author of the book, “Who Stopped the Sale?” (www.whostoppedthesale.com) and president of Automotive Profit Builders, specializing in enhancing customer satisfaction and maximizing gross profits. He can be reached at [email protected] or 508-626-9200 or www.apb.cc.

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