Developing talent should be a priority for every dealership, as well as for every manager in the dealership. - Pexels/ThisIsEngineering

Developing talent should be a priority for every dealership, as well as for every manager in the dealership.


I was talking to an associate of mine who was scheduled to facilitate sales training for a large dealer group. He was frustrated, because on the scheduled day of the training none of the managers that were scheduled to attend showed, only salespeople. He called the general manager of each dealership and asked why the managers were unable to attend. Each GM told him pretty much the same thing, that they were so thin in management that they couldn’t afford to have the managers attend.

Any training for a change in process or procedure must begin with management. The dealer I mentioned earlier went to the time and trouble to schedule sales process training for the sales staff, and that is good. The problem is that, in the words of an associate of mine, David Kelly, “Training without manager buy-in ends up just being the afternoon’s entertainment.”  Funny, but he makes a great point.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure there were a few salespeople in attendance who are self-motivated enough or driven enough to take something from the training that they can implement on their own to improve performance, but the event most likely will not have the effect it could have had if the managers were there.

This illustrates a problem that is very common in our industry: lack of bench strength in management. And because many dealerships do not have a plan to develop managers, the managers they do have go without the training and professional development they need to grow.  

Developing talent should be a priority for every dealership, as well as for every manager in the dealership. Dealers who think they could do a better job developing managers would be smart to identify and develop a list of desired competencies for every management position in the dealership. They could then use these competencies along with key performance indicators to evaluate management performance. One competency that should be included on every list of those for managers is how well they “develop new managers.”  

Years ago, I attended a meeting at company where I was employed after recently being promoted to a leadership position. I was in the room with other new leaders, and the president of the company was in the room. He asked us all what we considered the No. 1 priority in our new roles. Each answered as you might expect. When we finished, he thanked us for our answers but told us no one gave him the one he was looking for. He said that if we wanted to advance in the company, our No. 1 priority should be to train and develop someone to take our place.

Ever since, I have been a firm believer that every manager should identify one or two individuals with talent and potential and begin the process of training and developing them to take their place. I know that it takes a certain level of confidence to do this. But keep in mind, if you are a manager who takes pride in being difficult to replace, you are also likely difficult to promote. That is why this competency is one of the most important to learn, master and practice.

Here is how I would define the “develops new managers” competency:

  • Accurately assesses people’s strengths and development needs
  • Collaboratively works with the management candidate to set meaningful development goals
  • Gives direct reports timely, specific and behavioral feedback
  • Spends time working collaboratively with management candidates to help them improve a skill, learn new information, or get up to speed on a new job task or activity
  • Asks thought-provoking questions to help management candidates think through how to handle new or challenging tasks or activities
  • Tracks progress against development goals
  • Challenges management candidates to demonstrate learned knowledge, skills and behaviors in day-to-day activities
  • Provides challenging tasks and assignments that will foster development
  • Helps candidates feel valued, appreciated and included in development discussions
  • Looks for opportunities to reinforce, reward and celebrate the accomplishments of management candidates
  • Provides visibility for high performing management candidates

Although there are many competencies that make a great manager, developing other managers should be at the top of the list.

John Tabar serves as executive director of training for Brown & Brown.

Originally posted on F&I and Showroom