CALL US AT 1.866.756.2620
Richard Head

Richard Head

Author's details

Name: Richard Head
Date registered: March 12, 2015


Richard Head joined NCM in January 2015 as Director of Education for the NCM Institute with more than 25 years of management consultant, coach, training, and training management experience. As a trainer, he has conducted sessions in the US and abroad. Richard has a Master of Social Work, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Kansas. He also holds an On-Line Instructor certification from the Walden Institute.

Latest posts

  1. Is Story Time Causing Your Dealership Turnover? FIRO and MBWA Can Stop It — August 27, 2015
  2. Training is Necessary, But Not Sufficient — March 12, 2015

Most commented posts

  1. Training is Necessary, But Not Sufficient — 2 comments

Author's posts listings

Richard Head

Is Story Time Causing Your Dealership Turnover? FIRO and MBWA Can Stop It

open boo

One of the biggest expenses dealerships face each year is turnover. Not only does finding a new employee take a lot of time and money, but you then have to reinvest in proper training to get that new person up to speed.

I’ve found that dealerships – like many other complex work environments – are negatively impacted by assumptions, something I like to call “story time.” Before I go into the details of how story time ruins your employer-employee relationships and leads to turnover, let’s take a second to review what motivates people in the first place.

Motivation in action: FIRO

Developed by observing well-oiled, capable teams working in high-stress situations, the Fundamental Interpersonal Relationship Orientation (FIRO) approach boils people’s fundamental behavior down to three desires:

Inclusion.  Everyone expresses or wants contact with others—to be around others and work with others.

Control. Everyone expresses or wants influence over things and people.

Openness. Everyone expresses or wants to be known, seen, appreciated—a curiosity about others and a willingness to be seen ourselves.

This chart shows how each area relates to the others:

Blog graphic

For managers who typically can’t create a team from scratch based on compatibility, we have to focus on the thing we can change. Will Schutz – the psychologist who invented the FIRO method – says that creating an environment that encourages openness is the best method. And openness is what story time is all about.

It’s story time

First, let’s address openness. I’m not talking about some touchy-feely “new-age” thing. Instead, “openness” means a willingness to consider other interpretations of behavior.

Whenever something happens to us, we almost always make up a story about it. Unfortunately, most of the time we don’t make the effort to check out our made-up story. We simply create this fantasy world about what’s going on. As time goes on, those stories get hairier and stranger.

Just think about the last time you were baffled by something your boss said. You probably found yourself thinking, “I bet they’re irritated with me,” or “They probably think that ….” In reality, you just don’t know what’s happening with your boss. But your brain doesn’t like uncertainty, so it’s compelled to make up a story that gives you some understanding. And our people do the same about us!

Story time has a huge impact on businesses. Dealerships (and all businesses) are composed of multiple, competing stories about what’s going on and why—stories that are rarely discussed openly and almost never examined in a way that could prove or disprove the stories. Left to run unchecked, story time can give your best performers misinformation, and lead them to walk out the door.

Putting story time to bed.

In work relationships, we have two choices:

  • Let people make up stories about what is going on with us
  • Tell people what’s actually going on, so that they stop making up their own stories

As a leader, you set the tone.

When you stay holed up in your office, I can guarantee that your staff is making up stories trying to understand your decisions.

“Management By Wandering Around” (MBWA) is a great way to stop story time in its tracks. And, what better way to interact with the dealership?!

When I get out into the departments, I share with my staff what’s going on in the department, what’s keeping me up at night … and, critically important, what my hopes and dreams are for the dealership and the department. As an added bonus, the employees relax a bit and tell me things they might not in more formal situations. Everybody wins! And everyone stops inventing stories.

Give it a try in your dealerships. Manage by “wandering around” and find out what’s really going on. Stop the stories and deal with facts! What do you have to lose?

Permanent link to this article:

Richard Head

Training is Necessary, But Not Sufficient

Writing summary

Let’s take a look at what training is and is not, along with the real purpose of training: learning and development.

Learning is an individual and organizational effort aimed at helping employees acquire knowledge and skills required for the efficient execution of their current jobs.

Development provides on-the-job activities that allow employees to increase their knowledge,  skills, and performance so they can produce work of increasing importance to the organization.

A McKinsey study of companies’ opinions about problems with learning and development showed that:

  • 59% of senior managers don’t spend enough high-quality time developing their people
  • 45% of line managers are not sufficiently committed to development of people’s capabilities and careers

Deloitte’s 2014 Human Capital Trends report stated that fewer than 45% of businesses have a written plan for learning, largely due to lack of leadership and lack of planning. At the same time, the report states that employee development is one of the biggest factors in employee retention and engagement.

Robert Mager, one of the world’s leading authorities on the use of training and other techniques to solve employee performance problems, makes two important points about training:

Skill alone is not enough.

Skill, by itself, isn’t enough to guarantee on-the-job performance. In addition to skill, the employee needs:

  • Opportunity to learn and practice new skills
  • A supportive environment in which to practice those skills, and
  • Self confidence

Here’s another way to think of on-the-job performance: it’s a house that takes TIME to build and maintain.

  • Training provides knowledge, understanding, skills, and a certain level of confidence.
  • Incentives on the job provide everything from rewards and recognition, to the increased motivation and confidence that come with a job well done.
  • Management provides coaching, feedback, direction, support, and opportunity to practice the new skills.
  • Environment is the setting in which the new skills are practiced—the tools, equipment, and other resources to do the job, along with systems, processes, and a supportive culture.

Training can’t guarantee on-the-job performance.

Training can guarantee knowledge and skill, and can assist with self-confidence. But only managers can be held accountable for on-the-job performance.

Your employees can attend the best, most brilliant, most engaging training in the world, and they can come back to work all pumped up and ready to make a difference. But if incentives, management support, and environmental support are lacking — any of the other pillars of the house — then the house will collapse. Training will have been wasted. And, in many cases, the employee will be extremely dissatisfied because they feel the effort they put into learning new skills was wasted.

How does this apply to the retail automotive industry?

Many retail automotive businesses lack written policies, procedures, and processes – particularly when it comes to learning and development. Formalized recruiting, hiring, orientation, job descriptions, performance review processes, and training are at low levels compared with the average American business. In addition, low levels of employee training by the dealership, as evidenced by training dollars spent, contribute to lack of employee engagement and significant annual employee turnover.

NCM Associates’ proprietary composite for 2014 showed that dealers’ training dollars spent were:

  • 0.8% of Gross Profit
  • 0.107% of Sales (with a Benchmark® of 0.102%)

Compare training expenditures with the percentage of gross profit spent on advertising (1.6%) and you’ll be faced with the question, “If I spend twice as much money on advertising as I do training, are my people as prepared as they need to be when they’re doing their job? Is my spending in balance? Will my people be prepared to deliver the best possible customer service?”

The reality is, that on-the-job performance begins with training, but it can’t end with training. As managers and leaders, we must be prepared to do our part to ensure the training effort produces the results we want.

Learn more about the NCM Institute:

Permanent link to this article: