Have you ever had a terrible manager? I have, and my guess is you have too. Whenever the topic of management comes up, I can’t help but mentally go to all of the bad managers I have had.
When I think about a terrible manager, I think of someone who micro-manages, lacks communication skills and motivates with fear. The first manager I had, in my first “real” job embodied all of those characteristics and often led our team with a heavy hand. Whether or not you have had an experience like mine, we can each decide what type of manager you want to be – the one I described or you can choose create a completely opposite reality.
As we look at the role of “manager”, it is important to note that there are two sides to this role. In some cases, we need to manage, but in other cases we need to coach. So often we get the roles of a manager and coach confused. A managers responsibility is to manage processes while a coach’s focus is to develop people.
This can get confusing because, as an owner or manager, there may be times you have to wear a manager hat and you need to focus on the processes but there might be other times where you have to coach and develop your people. Depending what you are working on at any given point will determine if you need to be a coach or manager.
For today, let’s talk about being a manager and how we can successfully manage the processes in a specific department or dealership as a whole. In considering what makes a good manager, I see three crucial components.
1. The first thing a good manager does is to create a plan. Ask the question, “What are you trying to do?” You have to have a clear focus and direction with the process you are managing. As an simple example, maybe you are a Parts Manager and the process you are focused on is calling customers back once their orders come in. You would answer the question “What are you trying to do?” with the answer, call customers back within 12 hours of receiving their parts. You would then implement a process to make sure that this happens.
2. The second thing a good manager does is to answer the question “Who do you need?” This reference is to staffing. We want to understand who we need on our team to make the process work. When we work with dealerships this is a pain point we see come up time and time again. Managers have a process they are trying to implement but don’t have the staffing that is required to make it effective.
As an example, let’s say you are trying to implement a triage process in your service department and you have 3 technicians and yourself. But, in order to make the most of your technicians’ time, you decide to bring a service coordinator in to wash off equipment and pull it in and out of the service department so that the technicians can do a quick diagnostic and then you can order parts. The addition of this person makes your process run the way you intended.
It’s important that you are clear, as a manager, about not only what you are trying to do but also who you need to make the process work.
3. Oversight of the process is the third marker of a good manager. A good manager is someone who asks the question “Are you on track?” They are constantly looking at the numbers that are coming out of the process and making adjustments based on what they are seeing. Since they know where they are going and who they need to make it happen, it isn’t complex for them to see if the process they are managing is on track to do what they expect it to do.
So, how are you doing as a manager? What processes do you currently manage? Do you know what you are trying to achieve? Do you know who you need to make the process work? Do you have the information to course-correct if necessary? Answering these three questions is a great indication that you are on the right track on your management journey.