As we enter into the holiday season this year I find myself reflecting upon the many blessings I have in my life and upon the many things that I am extremely thankful for. I have a great family, a great career, great clients and basically a blessed life. But one of the things that I do not think about everyday and give thanks for are the people that I manage across the dealerships who I engage with on a regular basis and that’s not good. We all should be thinking about our employees year round and not just during the holiday season or during their annual performance reviews. But unfortunately we often miss out on the many opportunities throughout the year to tell our employees how important they are to our dealerships as employees as well as friends.
I know from experience how wonderful it feels to have a manager or client tell me what a wonderful job I am doing for them. I know how good it feels to hear a real thank you that comes from the heart. And I find it ironic that we often fail to do this in with our own dealership employees. We often miss out everyday on great opportunities to tell our employees how wonderful they are and let them know that we notice their contributions and that we care about them as people.
Letting your employees know that you appreciate them on a regular basis, in human resource terms, is called "employee recognition." Recognizing your employee’s contributions to the dealership has been proven to increase employee job satisfaction, morale and profitability.
Employees that make up the “baby-boomer” generation tend to take the stand that no news is good news. In other words, these employees feel that they are doing a good job if they don’t hear anything. Interesting, right? Now if we compare baby boomers with employees from the millennial generation the contrast is quite different. Members of the millennial generation have been given praise and recognition everyday since the day that they were born by their parents and teachers and often for things that do not deserve recognition. If you do not engage millennials frequently with recognition for a job well done they may feel diminished or underappreciated in the dealership.
As a manager or owner of a dealership what can you do about it? There are many things that you can do to let your employees know that you are thankful for having them on the team. Here are five:
- Be constantly aware. The simple act of paying attention to your staff and what contributions they make to the dealership sends a strong message to them that you care about them as people as well as employees. The management philosophy called “management-by-walking around” or MBWA where you can observe behaviors and compliment employees in real time can make a huge difference.
- Show appreciation. You need to show appreciation to your employees both verbally and publically. When humans are praised for what they are doing they get a lasting ego boost and if it is done publicly then the ego boost is even bigger and even longer lasting!
- Put it in writing! The written word goes a long way with you your employees. A simple card, handwritten note or a heart-felt email are effective methods of communicating how much you value and thank your employees. I have received many of these over the years and I keep them because I value them. One manager I had put a handwritten note on a Starbucks gift card and honestly the note was worth more to me than the value on the card.
- Make it quantifiable. While writing a simple thank you is good it is better and more meaningful to be specific on why you are thanking your employee. For example, thank your parts manager in writing for conducting a difficult and time-consuming physical inventory and let him or her know how much you appreciate it.
- A personal touch is best. Effective employee recognition should be prompt, personal, quantifiable and should be done as close to the behavior that you want to acknowledge. A general “good job” is way less powerful than “Thank you for taking your weekends this month for planning and executing your physical inventory” or “Your passion for the job is overwhelmingly apparent.” Making the recognition personal is way more powerful than a simple thank you.
Make the resolution this Thanksgiving and Christmas season that you will take time to let your employees know how thankful you are for their efforts. Employee acknowledgment and recognition goes a long way and increases employee morale, commitment, loyalty and profitability. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving and also it is just good management. It goes without saying, but without your people, its just a building full of motorcycles!
Happy Holidays Everyone!
Forrest Flinn, MBA, PHR, SMS has been in the motorcycle industry for nearly 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.