Employees don’t leave companies. They leave bad bosses.
A Gallup poll of over one million people concluded that the number one reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor—not their position, the work itself, or the salary.
The ongoing shortage of technicians is costing equipment dealers approximately $2.4 billion in lost revenue, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).
So what’s the number one thing you can do to improve employee retention at your dealership?
Be a better leader.
Anyone can be a manager or boss—but being the boss of someone doesn’t automatically make you a good leader. Thankfully, leadership is a skill that can be strengthened over time with consistent practice and exercise.
Perhaps the employee shortage thrust you into a management position despite having no formal management training. Or maybe the stress of the supply chain crisis, equipment shortages, and current events has put your personal development and growth on the back burner.
Whatever your circumstances, let’s take a look at five things you can do as a manager to become a better leader in the workplace.
Improve your communication skills.
Great leaders are normally great communicators. Don’t wait for annual performance reviews to give feedback. Employees want frequent, honest, and constructive feedback on a consistent and ongoing basis. By regularly taking time to check in, you will make your employees feel like valued team members – and give them the opportunity to work on their professional development more often than once per year.
Set reasonable objectives.
Equipment dealerships have a lot to accomplish in a day, and the employee shortage doesn’t help. But burdening your employees with unreasonable goals is a surefire way to create chaos and frustration.
Instead, develop reasonable goals with the input of your team members. Goals should follow the SMART guidelines: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound.
Specifically articulate what you want them to accomplish. Vague goals aren’t helpful because they don’t provide sufficient direction.
Measure your degree of success by using precise amounts, dates, etc. If your goal is simply to “reduce expenses,” how will you know when you have been successful?
Make sure that it’s even possible for your employees to achieve the goal(s) that you have set. Asking your sales team to sell 40 pieces of equipment in 2 weeks is impossible if you only have 5 items for sale. Setting unattainable goals is a surefire way to cause burnout.
Goals should be relevant to each team member and their roles. Asking your repair and service technicians to develop a marketing campaign to sell combines is unrealistic – and it’s not what your technicians signed up for.
Your goals must have a deadline so you know when you can celebrate success. Reasonable deadlines will keep your team motivated and inspire them to achieve their goals.
Celebrate the positive.
It might seem helpful to correct your subordinates every time they do something wrong in hopes of eliminating errors. But people don’t thrive in an environment of constant criticism.
“Positive feedback increases people’s confidence that they are able to pursue their goals, leading people to expect successful goal attainment,” explained Researcher Ayelet Fishbach. “Negative feedback, in contrast, undermines people’s confidence in their ability to pursue their goals and their expectations of success.”
In other words, positive feedback increases your employees’ confidence and motivation. So next time your employee does something great—even if it’s expected of them—be sure to let them know!
It’s hard to watch someone else make mistakes, especially if you already know how to avoid them. But that’s not an excuse for micromanaging them.
Micromanagement is the “ultimate controlling management style,” according to Ben Mulholland of Process Street. “It’s demoralizing and counter-intuitive, as the desire for control to make sure everything goes to plan only creates more problems in the long-term.”
You hired your team members for a reason—they have the experience and/or skills needed to complete the job. So let them! Give them autonomy, and trust that they will come to you when they have questions or need guidance.
Encourage work-life balance.
Roughly 60 percent of employees blame their bosses for work-life imbalance. Now more than ever before, employees are prioritizing their well-being. Offering flexibility in the workplace is one of the best ways to promote work-life balance.
Happy employees are productive employees. If your team works longer hours during planting and harvest season, why not give them more flexibility during the slower winter months?
For some people, leadership comes naturally; others need to work hard at it. But don’t underestimate the effect your role has on others. Leadership is more than just a position. And leadership skills can be applied to every aspect of your life—not just work.