If you ever needed a quick rule-of-thumb to decide whether a given activity supports employee engagement, these two rules are what you've been looking for: Empowerment and Inclusion --- get them working and you're good.
If you wish to improve the levels of employee engagement in your dealership, I have good news for you. It all boils down to those two simple things: Empowerment and Inclusion. When you get both of them right, you are almost certain of success. I say almost certain, because factors outside your control do play some role in any even, but in the majority of cases, dedicating your efforts to these two factors is a very safe bet.
The two Golden Rules of Employee Engagement are Inclusion and Empowerment. Get them right and success is all but assured.
#1 Thou Shalt Keep Employees Informed
I don't think I am unusual in this way, but I always like to know what's going on in the corner office. I don't so much care about the minutiae, such as discussions about what brand of coffee is being planned for the cafeteria, but I do always like to know what is happening in areas that concern what I am working on. Is management considering trashing the product I am working on? Are there plans for a big expansion in the area I work in? What about new equipment being planned, the dreaded "re-org", or other significant management changes?
Every company has its own flavor of what is considered impactful news, but here's a good yardstick to help you decide whether a given employee should be in the loop on any given topic: Might the employee make different decisions if they knew about this? If so, then you must share the information.
If you were a taxi-cab driver and a passenger asked you to take them to the Astoria Hotel, but you knew it had been shut down two years earlier, would you tell your passenger? Of course you would, even though not telling him might allow you to clock up a greater fare. It's a concrete example of giving people the information that helps them make better decisions. Since I made this a Golden Rule of Employee Engagement some time ago, I've made it a bit of a personal golden rule too.
Employee communication works the same way. As a manager or an executive, you are in the trusted position of the "information keeper". Your employees, too, are in a similar position. They have information they must share with you relating to automotive product information, customer satisfaction, service repair orders, and countless other areas of risk and opportunity you need to know because they have an influence on your decision making.
#2 Thou Shalt Give Employees Everything they need to do their Work
Having spent most of my working life in some kind of organizational development consulting, I have learned that process definition is critically important. Spending the time up-front to identify, test and employ the right sales and service processes, for example, can have a profound effect on your dealership’s chances of success.
Giving each employee training in the best sales and service processes — information being the glue that makes the processes effective and efficient — enables them to do the best job possible, thereby making them more productive for two reasons: (1) They reinforce productivity improvement by having the best processes available, and (2) the feeling of empowerment drives up their level of engagement.
What can derail your best efforts?
If you want to make God laugh, Woody Allen once said, tell him your plans. Allen's dark humor paints a kind of worse case scenario, but let's look at what could possibly undermine your dedication to the two Golden Rules, and how you might preempt them.
Luck: sometimes a company gets blind-sided by some serendipitous event like a technological leap by a competitor, an earthquake, a war breaking out in the country hosting one of your major suppliers, any and all of which may deflate the hopes of your employees and with it, have some impact on their levels of engagement. Still, with high levels of engagement, those same employees are far more likely to help find ways to overcome any bad news.
Culture beyond repair: there are cases — few and far between, I am glad to say — where an organizational culture is so far beyond recovery, with every employee so completely disengaged, it's more like a replay of Mutiny of the Bounty. Even in those extreme cases, there are solutions, but perhaps not of the employee engagement variety. Such cases are very rare.
You can't afford not to
Whether you have low levels of employee engagement you wish to remedy, high levels you wish to retain, or a catastrophe you need to recover from, engaged employees are the only type you ever want under your roof. At PDP, we know how to get you there if that's your desired destination, and we can help you secure your gains if you have already arrived.
We know how the Two Golden Rules work to make a company more productive, competitive and prosperous in every way. It's the path to success for customers, employees, and owners. Wouldn't you know it! The initials spell CEO…and that’s where it all has to start…from the top down.