When I talk to owners and managers about the power of their team, regardless of its size, many times their eyes glaze over and they say, “Sara, that’s nice, but you don’t know my people.” You’re right. I don’t, but our team knows thousands of other people just like yours. And when the owners or managers get out of their way and let them do their job, they can become unstoppable.
The most powerful resources you have in your organization are the people you pay to be there every single day. That’s right, your employees. No one has better insight into your business than the people who show up every single day. The struggle is that often, as an owner, you don’t want to let go of control. Most owners and managers we work with (more than 5,000 of you) are control freaks. You have hired highly capable people to take things off your plate, but you never actually let them help you in the way you need.
Our focus here is on one thing — how to fully utilize your people. Don’t dismiss this idea too quickly. If you want to change the direction of your business, take an objective look at who on your team is willing and able to move your dealership forward.
Have you ever driven on an icy road? Specifically, a road covered in black ice where everyone travels half the speed limit just to get to the grocery store and stock up on toilet paper that they don’t need? Our team is based out of Kansas City, Missouri, right in the middle of the U.S. In what seems like a day, we can experience 90-degree heat, followed by a tornado, and then, before we know it, we are in the midst of a snowstorm.
Regardless of the weather event, what typically shuts down our city is ice. When you drive on ice, you utilize a different driving technique than what is needed for any other time on the road. Your natural tendency is to tense up and grip the wheel with strength that would rival the Hulk. In reality, you need to relax, slow down, and have a comfortable grip on the wheel.
As an owner or manager, when things start moving into panic mode and getting out of control, you typically match the level of panic and hold the pieces of the business closer to you. Your grip gets tighter, much like inexperienced drivers on ice. You don’t let others help with the problem because you are convinced that you are the only one capable of dealing with it.
First, you need to come to grips with the fact that you can’t do it all and that’s okay — that’s why you hired people to help you. Maybe they won’t know exactly how to help you in the beginning, so you may need to teach and guide them.
You didn’t hire the people you have brought on to your team because you enjoy having increased overhead. You hired people to perform specific tasks or jobs that needed to be moved from your plate so you could focus on running the business. If you hadn’t made the decision to delegate some control over certain functions of the dealership, you could have never gotten to where you are today.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. For some, the mention of delegation may have just sent you into a panic that caused you to revert to the fetal position, because you, like most of your employees, had a terrible experience with delegation in the past. Perhaps your daily motto in business and in life has become, “It’s just easier if I do it myself.” But if you continue to only do things yourself, the only thing that will be easy for you to achieve is burnout.
Think about it. When you hired your first employee, why did you do it? It was probably because you no longer could handle the entire load of what was required. You were tired, overwhelmed, and at capacity. However, the more people you add to your team, the further you get away from understanding that the sole reason you add people is to delegate tasks so you can do other things that only you can do.
Maybe you are currently the best salesperson, best HR rep, and best compliance specialist you have. In that case, I need you to narrow the list down to only what you can do. I want you to write down three things that only you can do — three things that no one else on your team can replicate.
Your list will be unique to you. As things are today, maybe you are the only one who can make hiring or firing decisions, or maybe you are the only one who can submit warranties or work with your call centers. Regardless, I want you to identify just three things only you can do. Your goal is to slowly move tasks from your plate to the other people on your team. Understand, this isn’t something that is going to happen all at once, but it will happen over time.
So, pick one thing you are going to move off your plate. This is a task that you are currently doing, that is not on your top three list, and that you can equip someone else to do. Go ahead and write that task, job, or responsibility down. I know this is incredibly painful for someone who likes control, but it will be worth it. This task can be big or small, I just need you to pick one thing.
Sara Hey is a co-author of “You’re the Problem and the Solution,” a book written for leaders.