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Employee Communication: Do Your Employees Know Where Your Dealership Is Going?

  • Employee Communication: Do Your Employees Know Where Your Dealership Is Going?

Humans everywhere like to know where they are going, and what's happening along the way. The same is true for your dealership’s employees.

If you've ever driven across the country with young children in the car, you'll be familiar with the old cliché, Mom and Dad! Are we there yet?

We all like to know how long it takes to complete a journey, and we like to know where we are going. With kids, the long car journey is tolerable because they would of course know where they were going. Perhaps it was to grandpa's farm, or a cottage by the sea, Disneyworld, or a ski resort. No matter where, you wouldn't for a moment consider not telling them what the destination was!

So, why do we think it's OK to keep dealership employees in the dark? A paltry 40% of employees across America are aware of what their respective employer's goals, strategies and tactics are, according to Chris Zook of the Bain Company. What about the other 60% of employees who are left in the dark? The short answer is, they become less engaged. The more in the dark they remain, the less engaged they become. In time, they become actively disengaged, eating into the good productivity of others and infecting your culture with negativity and bad feeling.

Keeping an employee in the dark breaks a fundamental Golden Rule of employee engagement. And it's so easy to take care of. All you need is a reliable, predictable method for keeping all employees in the loop.

Email and slide show presentations fall short of this goal simply because they are one-way instruments. Relying on those two mediums denies you the ability to see just how well your message is getting through, and also, it does not provide a method for employees to contribute to the conversation. With a well-executed employee communication solution in place, you give every employee an easy-to-use, safe way to share their ideas, and contribute to the conversation.

Without the facts, we assume the worst

Flying in a passenger jet gives me a feeling of vulnerability I don't experience anywhere else. I'm very comfortable with it; I just feel vulnerable, and that's OK. It's not because jet aircraft are dangerous, because they're not. Statistically, you would have to fly millions of flights before you could expect to die in an air crash. In contrast, the average middle-aged business traveler has a far higher chance of dying from a heart attack on the plane. It is in fact several orders of magnitude more likely (especially if you spend the flight worrying about dying in an air crash). The reason I feel vulnerable (and helpless - did I mention helpless?) in an aircraft is because I don't know what's going on. I've had a few scary moments in planes over the years, each of which turned out to be absolutely nothing, but each event scared me because, without the facts, I presumed the worst. That's what your dealership employees do. They presume the worst when they don't know what's going on.

Thankfully, keeping employees in the dark does not usually trigger in them thoughts of near-death experiences, but it does have a significant impact on their thoughts about their career and job situation. If your employees don't know what the dealership is planning, and how it is doing, they will presume the worst, at least in terms of their position in the universe. It's what humans do, and it is so easy to remedy. How? Funny you should ask, because a robust employee communication solution will provide your employees with clear skies and unlimited visibility. They won't jump to conclusions, and they won't be worried about finding the emergency exits.

Are we nearly there yet?

Tom McQueen is PDP's automotive industry expert and has consulted with over 400 dealerships on performance improvement and employee engagement.