This headline is based on a sign posted at my gym that made me think about your business, and my challenge to “Make 2018 the Year of Human Capital Development.” I started to think about the small things that you can do with your people to develop them and your dealership. Doing small things that lead to big things is a useful perspective for you to create change with your employees and colleagues. It provides an approach for you to do every day in order to create big improvements.
A complementary idea is, “If you take care of the little things, then the big things take care of themselves.” Here are 5 ‘little things’ that you can do to foster ‘small daily improvements.'
1. Manage by Walking Around
This approach to management has been around a while and is even more important today in the information age. When we spend a lot of time with electronic communications — emails, texting, spreadsheets, analysis, etc. — we may sacrifice the opportunity to observe how people are working.
Managing by Walking Around means to observe, orient and react in the moment with the people around you. Your ability to observe how things are being done (or not), to read people’s body language, to see when changes need to be made, etc., are fostered when you walk around your dealership. You can observe the ‘little things’ that make a difference over time. What you observe can be either good or bad, and you either encourage the good or correct the bad immediately.
Or you decide to observe and take action later. In any case, the point is that you can see and you can be seen — and both are good.
Complementary Idea: Take a Different Route Every Day: Because it is valuable to see and be seen, make a point of taking a different route every day. The change will likely help you to see more, and force you to go places that you might not ordinarily go.
How often have you been into your tool room? How about into the bulk parts storage? What about into the technician’s break room?
Change is good. And seeing and being seen in different areas will give you more opportunities to affect the ‘little things.’
2. Be a Mentor, Not a Boss
To cause small daily improvements, which add up over time, think about how you interact with people. Do you direct them? That’s the definition of a boss.
Consider yourself instead as a coach whose responsibility is to teach, guide and encourage. This is the definition of a mentor and you’ll find that most people, especially younger ones, will react more positively to your mentorship than your direction. This doesn’t mean in all situations that you should never direct. But if you observe and react to the ‘little things’, you’ll learn more by mentoring than directing.
3. You’re on Stage 24/7, Act Your Part
The second part of the phrase ‘See and be seen’ is about the drama of your role in your organization. As the leader, people will react to how you act. Values in an organization start at the top. The values you demonstrate through your actions and demeanor will be emulated — good or bad — by your organization.
This suggestion is based on the fact that, for the most part, humans are visual learners. We have evolved and survived by carefully observing our environment. Since we were infants, we react to the faces and body language of others.
So act your part and know that others will react to you. Just as an actor prepares for his role, prepare yourself to act as the leader you want to be. Think about the theater of leadership and management.
4. People Want to See Improvements
Because we are visual leaners, we respond when we see positive changes in our environment. We feel good when we see inventory is turning over, that the shop is busy, that the parts inventory has been re-organized for efficiency.
A coat of paint can do wonders in what people see, but that’s big job. Daily cleaning and picking up may be all that is needed for people to ‘see’ improvements.
5. You Manage What you Measure
When you track important numbers, you will be able to detect the things that can be changed. You’ll also be able to detect changes.
But more importantly, when your organization knows and sees which numbers you are tracking, then they’ll find them important too. They’ll pay more attention to them simply because they know you’re tracking them.
So make the numbers visible in a chart, graph or simply a series of numbers. The visibility will cause change. And when the small daily improvements can be seen, you’ll be well on the way to staggering long-term results!
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