Last month, we listed five basic steps managers should take to help their staffers perform to the best of their ability.

Let's now look at those steps in detail.

Step 1 — Career goals: First is to understand what the salesperson's long term goals are and how the progression along this path, fits into your dealership. Be honest. Work together. Listen. Develop an attainable working game plan.

Step 2 — Self-assessment or a personal S.W.A.T (Strengths, Weaknesses, Attitude, Threats): Next is to help the employee conduct an honest self-evaluation. A good tool is the same one used to assess businesses, but applied personally, the S.W.A.T. analysis.

From a professional perspective, have the salesperson make a list of their individual attributes using one page for each of the following topics:

Strengths: Characteristics that give them a perceived advantage.

Weaknesses: Characteristics that place them at a disadvantage.

Attitude: Beliefs, feelings, values and dispositions exist that influence the individual to act in a certain way.

Threats: Elements that might interfere with the opportunities to improve.

As part of this process, managers should ask employees to answer the question, “Why do you work here?” In other words, why your business instead of one down the street? It has to do with more than just getting a paycheck.

Step 3 — Guide employees and as they establish a plan based on SMART goals.

Goals should address three phases of career development. Short-term should focus on the first year; mid-term on two to five years and long-term beyond five years.

Step 4 — Feedback: Track of performance to enable employees to see how effective they have been in attaining the goals.

Without proper feedback channels it is impossible to adapt or adjust to the required behavior. Ask questions that guide them through a self-evaluation.

The goal is to have a conversation where employees identify and talk about the areas where they need to improve and the manager provides guidance and coaching.

Step 5 — Adjust and Reward: Adjust the plan to ensure it meets the desired outcome. Don't wait for quarterly, bi-annual or annual reviews. Work with employees weekly if not daily to assess and steer them in the right direction. As goals are attained, reward their efforts and motive them to continue their improvement.

Not every employee is motivated in the same way. Not everybody wants to be No.1. That's OK. A manager's job is to work with each person to determine their ability to contribute to organizational performance.

For some people, this may mean reaching for a promotion; for others, expanding the current job. It's not always about making more money. Recognition often is even more important.

Managers with winning teams understand and appreciate the diversity of the people in their dealership. They know how to create heroes in every role. They recognize that since everyone has unique strengths, helping people become more of whom they already are, often may be the best way to improve their performance.

Even with a plan in place, the process of improving doesn't happen automatically. Without a management committed to helping and developing their people, it may never happen at all.

In our business, employees are the wheels that can take a dealership to its next level of success. But, it's the management that builds a fine-tuned engine through goal setting, training, educating, and coaching. It's the managers who give their people the motivation they need to put the dealership on the right road to success.

Richard F. Libin, author of “Who Stopped the Sale?” ( is president of Automotive Profit Builders, with more than 42 years experience of fostering customer satisfaction and maximizing profits through personnel development and technology. He is at and 508-626-9200.

Letter Major Term
S Specific
M Measurable
A Attainable
R Relevant
T Time-based