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Working at a car dealership often takes its toll on employees. The demands of a fifty, sixty or seventy hour work week often leaves the employee exhausted, mentally and physically. Generally, these employees are not clock-watchers, they are your commissioned sales people, your technicians, your management staff and they are the bread and butter for your dealership. Are these long work hours the expectation that has been set by the organization, or it is part of the genetic makeup of these employees? Is their heart into it? Or are they only a cog that helps turn the wheel?
Also imagine the full-time, forty-hour per week receptionist, service cashier or parts counter employee that repeats the responsibilities of their job for eight hours a day. They take their breaks and probably sneak in a couple more to grab a cigarette or run an errand. Their lunch hour is regimented so that everyone knows where to find them at half past twelve. They are critical employees to your franchise, but do they see themselves as such? They are the worker bees - while management, key sales and service personnel make the wheel go around.
“When employees see themselves as just a cog in the machine — a small, interchangeable component piece whose individual personality is of no value — they will put forth only the energy required to do the job and nothing more.”
This is the take in a recent article published on Forbes.com regarding a phenomenon dubbed “the cog mentality.” The average employee very likely sees little value in helping your dealership become the best it can be, despite the fact that they truly might be the heart and soul, or at least, the front lines for the army that stands behind them. They perhaps don’t go above and beyond to help your dealership because, when workers feel that you don’t care about them, it is hard for them to care about you.
“A cog mentality is not only the enemy of individual creativity, but it’s also contagious.” says the author of the article.
So what then happens to these employees who do not receive the time of day from their manager? Their voices are not heard. Their opinions are not known, nor are their ideas about how they can make their job or the dealership more efficient, more profitable and a more enjoyable environment in which to work. This can then lead to complacency, as they just become worker bees, instead of engaged employees that take pride and ownership in the company they work for.
Employees can bring some valuable insight to your dealership, along with opportunities for improvement and ways to make the customer experience better. What they may desire in return is very likely not financial reward. But a thank you or a pat on the back, so they feel recognized and gain some ownership in the idea and the resultant improvements in the dealership.
Dealership owners and managers would be wise to take the time to talk to and listen to the ideas of their employees. And then strive to incorporate these suggestions. It will no doubt yield higher employee satisfaction and retention. Rewarding all employees for their outside-of-the-box concepts, or finding ways for them to feel like they have a stake in the welfare of the organization, will probably not always yield immediate financial returns.
However it could well bring a better partnership between the true decision makers and the ones that are on the front lines.
No matter the size of your dealership, the bottom line is that everyone wants to be respected for the opinions they may have, the ideas that they have developed, or they may simply wish to be recognized for the day-to-day tasks they have been assigned.
Without acknowledging their value, the worker bees will go make honey at another hive.