I challenged readers of this column to “Make 2018 the Year of Human Capital Investment.” Training is likely a key part of your human capital investment. Below is a professional perspective on how to make training work and how to make it pay from one of my Machinery Advisors Consortium colleagues, Daniel Surprenant.
— George Russell

In business, we can learn from sports. What are the elements of winning teams like the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles or World Series Champion Huston Astros? Even better, what did the newly established Las Vegas Golden Knights do to get to the Stanley Cup finals in their first year?

In leading a dealership to success, use the recipe of successful sport general managers which is: Good Players + Good Tools + Good Coaching + Good Attitudes = Winning Results

Good Players (Managers & Workers)

Successful sports teams and businesses start with the essential element of finding, developing and keeping good people. 

You face the same choice as a general manager, which is 1.) to recruit people who already have the skills you need, or 2.) to hire people with the intent of developing the skills internally.  Sports teams can trade for players or go into the free agent market to find talent. You must recruit from other businesses or advertise for open positions. The positive of this approach is you’ll be more likely to have an “impact” person who can achieve results quickly. One negative is the new employee must learn and fit into your dealership’s culture and learn your policies and procedures.

The second approach to “hire for attitude and train for skill” takes longer and means that you’ll be more likely to develop a loyal, effective manager or worker. More and more dealerships are taking this approach because of the difficulty of finding skilled people.

Good Tools (Plan, Policies & Procedures)

The best sports teams have well established ways of doing things, including a detailed game plan that is adjusted for each game depending on the players and the opponents. In your business the equivalent is a strong culture with established ways of doing things that everyone knows and adheres to. But the best dealership has written policies and procedures which help new employees learn faster and allow managers and workers to focus on being more effective and consistent, especially in bigger organizations.

Good tools also mean good internal information systems for communication, control and answers. Having good tools also mean having a good strategy, which then flows into detailed plans for implementing your strategy.

Good Coaching

There are many coaches on a sport teams who help develop the players using the good tools. They must have the technical knowledge and also the ability to teach effectively no matter the player’s skills and game situation. Coaches are the catalyst for change. 

Your dealership managers must also have the knowledge of their area, but to be most effective they must know how to coach each person differently whether a different generation (Millennials, Gen Z, Gen X, Baby Boomers), or different skills or different leaning styles.

Your managers cannot just tell people what to do. They should understand how adults learn. We learn 10% from what we read, 20% from what we hear, 30% from what we see, 50% from what we see and hear, 80% from what we say and 90% from what we hear, see and do.  The more effective coaches use different ways to communicate (auditory, visual and sensory).

Good Attitude

Attitudes on a team or a business start at the top. Research shows that it is hard to control or dictate a good attitude. However, we can influence the attitudes of others positively or negatively by what each of us does as leaders and managers.

How do we perceive things? Are problems disasters or opportunities? Do we trust people?  Do we spend our time putting out fires or develop ways to prevent them? If good attitudes start with what you do, then what example are you setting? Do you have a frown or a smile? Do you fix the problem or fix the blame?

Attitude is the basis of success for all championship teams. Good attitudes start individually and then, through various communication vehicles, move from person to person until the good attitude becomes collective with everyone working in the same direction toward the same goal.  That’s “Team Spirit!

Winning Results

In sports there can only be one champion and some view finishing second as a failure. But in both sports and business, failure to win the top position is a challenge to learn how to be better. What matters is what you will retain from your experience and how you will do better the next time.     

Using the Winning Formula, you should analyze which element or elements must be improved.

  • Is it the players — your managers or workers?
  • Is it the tools — your processes, policies, procedures and/or plans?
  • Is it the coaching — what you and your managers do to improve people?
  • Is it the attitude — what are you doing to create a winning Team Spirit?