Is it a Knowing Issue or a Doing Issue that is holding you back?
Have you ever thought about what keeps you from becoming the best you can be? Hopefully, not only have you thought about this in the past, but you think about it on a regular basis. Though this thought process can apply to any employee, manager or owner, today I will focus on managers in the fixed operations departments.
Let’s consider the following situation for our example: The general manger meets with you to review your department’s past performance. During the meeting, the general manager states that she wants to have a minimum of a 50% increase in net profit in your department this year. How do you react?
When faced with a challenge, most people have one of three natural reactions. The first one is the simplest and goes something like this: You agree and believe that the requested 50% increase in net profit is obtainable, and you already have ideas on how to make it happen. You develop your plan, communicate your plan, and actually perform your plan. At this point the stars are aligned, life is good and you are on your way towards achieving the set goal.
The second and third types of reactions aren’t as simple as that. Unfortunately, they are more common than the first reaction.
Let me explain the second type of reaction that we can have when a target, goal or objective is presented. Again we will use the above example, where the boss has mandated a 50% increase in profitability. You may not have a plan to obtain the needed profit. You know that you work hard every day and you just can’t see where the increase is going to come from. You’re not sure whether you need additional sales, additional margins, good old-fashioned expense reduction, or a combination of all three. You want to perform to the requested level, but you just don’t have the answer to how to perform to that level. We consider this a “knowing issue.”
The best part about knowing issues is they are fixable. Our industry has many ways to tap into the knowledge base of highly successful people. Here are just a few ways to gain knowledge that would help you overcome a knowing issue to obtain the objective.
Automotive Training Companies
These companies can provide a wide range of solutions to overcome most any obstacle. You can attend two-, three- or five-day courses that will cover a variety of topics to overcome challenges faced by today’s managers. A side benefit of this type of classroom training is that in addition to the course curriculum, you get to engage other students and learn from their experiences. It also gives you time to get away and work on your business, rather than just in your business.
In-Dealership Consultants or Retail Operations Coaches
Consultants or business coaches are another effective way to get very specialized knowledge. These people will work hand-in-hand with you, on your turf, to come up with solutions that will meet your needs.
Webinars, On-Demand Video Training, and e-Learning Seminars
These on-demand and scheduled training segments are becoming an efficient way to learn new ideas or to help you understand the solutions that are available on a wide variety of topics.
Print and/or Digital Magazines and Blogs
These are easy to access and search. They are full of timely and useful information. Whether you’re looking for information on products or time-proven tactics to help you achieve your objective, much can be learned using this format.
Lastly, don’t forget other resources for information. They include digital automotive groups, discussion forums, professional networks, personal acquaintances, and the list goes on and on. In today’s world, we are never short on being able to find information and ideas.
Knowledge issues all come down to this:
If you really want to know how to accomplish something, with a little research or investment, you can find suggestions and best practice methods. Since we can see that information for solutions is readily available, this brings us to the third possible reaction. It may be the hardest to address. I call this one a “doing issue.” Continuing with our example above, you may understand your boss’s request and even have the knowledge or solutions to obtain the target, but are you willing to do what it takes to achieve it?
This reaction can get tricky, partly because many times managers disguise it as a knowing issue, when really it is more of a doing issue. They know ways to impact the desired result, but for whatever reason they decide not to take action and do it.
They may justify their decision with thoughts like, “The solution sounds like too much work,” or “If I do that, it might upset (you fill in the blank),” or “I’m happy enough with the way things are, so I’ll just wait this out and hopefully it will go away.” These particular types of responses can be devastating to a business, a department and even a career. Unfortunately, they happen way too often.
So how can you overcome this negative reaction? I am going to give you two solutions. The first one is to personally take control, or ownership, of this reaction. If you know that you are the stumbling block, then you can change and become the solution.
Be introspective and figure out why you refuse to “do what it takes.” Is it because the solution is illegal, immoral or unjust? If it is, then find a solution that doesn’t cross these non-negotiable boundaries. If it is just because it sounds like more work than you want to do, then find a way to make it manageable and make it happen, or find a suitable solution that requires less energy, investment or time. You must realize there are many ways to overcome every obstacle.
As an example, if you are having production capacity issues, don’t just convince yourself that you are maxed out and can’t grow. Maybe you have looked at installing a four-day, 10-hour work schedule to increase capacity, but for some reason, decided that was not a good fit. Now you have convinced yourself that there are no other options. Since you don’t want to do a 4-10 schedule, you just muddle along, not growing month after month, and just making excuses.
If you truly decided that the 4-10 option wasn’t the solution for you, does it stop there, or do you go back to the drawing board looking for other ways to improve capacity?
Again, it comes back to a “knowing” or a “doing” issue.
Did you consider the possibility of using a second or even a third shift, or possibly increasing your hours of operation or days of operation? Maybe a team system would help to gain stall density, or a three-day 13-hour shift program is another option. You could look at reduction of bays-to-technician ratio, or utilizing “community” bay programs. These are just samples of a variety of methods to increase your stall utilization and production capacity. There are many more potential solutions for the example, but you must research solutions, find the one that fits your situation the best, and then actually do it!
To help with doing issues, I like to use the Thomas Edison philosophy. When Edison was asked how he felt about failing so many times when trying to develop the incandescent light bulb, he said that he didn’t look at it as failure, but rather he had found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb. But he added that he only had to find one way that it would work.
If we kept that same attitude, how great could we become? If you start evaluating every challenge as a either a knowing or doing issue, you will be better equipped to know what path you need to take to find that “one way” to make it work for you. That is a key to ultimate success for your dealership, department and career.
This article was originally published in the July/August 2014 issue of Fixed Ops Magazine.