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Management Update: Work and manage within your strengths

BY FORREST FLINN

Have you ever read something that just changed your life forever? Have you ever had an experience that reinvented how you view yourself and others that you manage? Well, I did over the Christmas holiday by reading Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. It is a tiny book and a speedy read, but the contents are more potent than any book I have ever read on the topic of personal achievement and management.

All of our lives we are told that we can be anything that we want if we just try hard enough, right? According to Tom Rath, and forty years of research, this is not true at all. All of our lives, according to Rath, we spend most of our time focusing on our weaknesses and no time focusing on our strengths. Almost all of the parents surveyed, 77% in the United States to be exact, said that their children’s weakest grades were what they needed to focus on. We always focus on what is wrong with our kids, and ourselves for that matter, instead of focusing on what is right! By doing this we are robbing our children, and ourselves for that matter, the opportunity to focus on our strengths where we have a greater chance for greatness in our lives.

How does this translate to our life in the powersports industry? Consider this- if your employees are not working within their strengths zone they:

  1. Hate going to work
  2. Have more negative than positive interactions with coworkers.
  3. Treat your dealership’s customers poorly
  4. Tell others what a miserable company they work for
  5. Achieve less on a daily basis
  6. Cost your dealership thousands of dollars each year in lost productivity.

So how do you help employees work within their strength zones? First of all, in order to help people discover their own strengths, you have to know what yours are. What is interesting is that when most people are asked what their strengths were, they are usually wrong (Rath 2017). How do you find out what your strengths are? You buy the book called Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and read the first few chapters and take the detailed CliftonStrengths assessment online. The book is roughly twenty dollars on Amazon, and the book has a code to take the assessment for free! After taking the short evaluation, you will receive a detailed report of what your top five strengths are. I guarantee you the outcome will change your life and the lives of those you manage forever.

After taking my CliftonStrengths I found that my top strengths were strategic, focus, futuristic, learner, and responsibility.  Working in accounting, I knew that I had a strong focus and responsibility strengths, but I was completely unaware of the others.  Armed with my new knowledge I had my assistant take the same evaluation, which yielded different results.  I will not disclose those to you here, but I will say that the exercise helped me manage my assistant better by having her focus tasks where she had strengths.  I’m not saying that I took away functions that weren’t in her strengths zone, but it helped me understand her better as a person and an employee.

Do you want to achieve greatness for you and your dealership?  Then I suggest starting with yourself and find out what areas you are terrific in and also find out what you are not so good at. The results will amaze you, if not change your life forever. By going through this experience, and having the opportunity to reflect on the ClliftonStrengthsfinder outcome, you will be more motivated than ever to lead your dealership to new levels of operating performance and profitability.

As we move into 2019, what is going to change to make your dealership a better place to work?  What goals have you set for yourself and your team this year? Do you have the right people on the team that can achieve those objectives? Or will it be another year of the same old thing?  Have your team members take the same assessment and learn to manage your people within their own strengths and not focus just on their weaknesses. Quit thinking that your service or parts manager will be better at their jobs if they just focus on their weaknesses. By doing so is a futile effort.

I’m not here writing this blog to sell books. There is no monetary incentive for me to do so.  What I am here to do is share a life-changing experience with you. An experience that has helped me tremendously look towards the future, both personally and professionally, with a new and exciting outlook. It has helped me focus on my strengths and manage my weaknesses.  I strongly urge you to buy the book and take the assessment.

After all, it is just good business.

Forrest Flinn, MBA, PHR, SMS has been in the motorcycle industry for more than 20 years and has been a true student and leader serving in various capacities. He previously worked as an implementation consultant for Lightspeed and as a general manager with P&L responsibility for a large metro multi-line dealership. Currently Forrest is the managing partner and chief visionary for a consulting firm that specializes in outsourced accounting, human resources, social media strategy, dealership operations consulting and Lightspeed/EVO training.

Contact: forrest@powersportsmc.com

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