Put Your Managers On A Path To SuccessWritten By Mary Seaman
Article Date: 04-01-2005
Copyright (C) 2005 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Use Personal Development Plans to improve your dealership’s profitability.
Too often, dealers ask their employees to increase sales and profits without considering how they can institute changes in the organization that will improve sales and profits. By changing the way you look at performance reviews and providing appropriate training and education, you can prepare your staff to succeed and to meet your sales and profit expectations.
In today’s fast-paced business market, training is one area that is often pushed to the sidelines without regard for the impact. But employee training is one sure way dealers can improve their businesses, obtain measurable results, and keep their best employees.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, for every one business that succeeds this year, 10 will fail. According to an article published January 12 in Chief Learning Officer magazine, training is the one area that has been proven to aid a company’s long-term stability and profitability.
The AED Foundation has introduced a new service for AED members that leverages the information and capabilities of AED University and the Learning Management System (LMS) — Personal Development Plans.
Personal Development Plans, or PDPs, provide you with a customized educational path for each of your managers. As an educational solutions provider, The AED Foundation provides the benefits of continuous learning in the context of your organizational goals. The Foundation develops and executes the PDPs at no cost to you.
Step 1: Information Gathering
To start the process of creating individualized PDPs, contact Carol Schrader, The AED Foundation’s Director of Development, at 800-388-0650 ext. 303. You’ll need to provide her with the names and contact information of your key managers, including branch, parts, service, sales and rental managers.
Step 2: Basic Skills Assessment
The next step is for supervisors to evaluate the skills of their managers. (We know you’re busy. All we need is about 20 minutes of your time to provide you with a wealth of information about your employees.)
Supervisors log in to AED University at www.aedu.org and fill out a Basic Skills Assessment for each of their departmental managers. The assessment evaluates the performance of your employee, as well as areas that need to be addressed.
Supervisors are asked to evaluate an employee on 30 different skills essential to positions in the equipment distribution industry. In addition, supervisors are asked to select the three skills that need the most improvement and to state goals for the employee.
In an article in Chief Learning Officer, entitled “Learning at Work – The Fundamental Principles,” by Tom Atkinson and Jocelyn Davis, “in a fast-paced business atmosphere that demands results, it’s easy to overlook the necessity of the basic fundamentals that ensure a company’s success. Companies that overlook employee training are unable to deliver the best results.”
Atkinson and Davis suggest learning be tied to organizational goals. One way to accomplish that is by “involving management in the learning process by having managers identify learning goals in advance or by inviting a senior executive to set the business context and goals.”
Using the Basic Skills Assessment, supervisors and managers can link training to the dealership’s organizational goals. For example, in the assessment, a supervisor is asked to rate how effective the manager is at scheduling and tracking orders/repairs, using a scale of one to four. If the manager is rated low, they are referred to a specific course at AED University that teaches that skill.
“Completing the Basic Skills Assessment encourages supervisors to take the time to evaluate their managers on important management skills, on a number of different levels,” says Kari Bogdan, The AED Foundation’s Manager of Continuous Education. “In the process of completing the assessment, the supervisor and the manager become more focused on the areas that need to be addressed.
“Then after training has been completed, they can see how much the manager has improved and if they have reached their stated goals. This is not your typical evaluation tool. It is customized for distributors.”
Step 3: Basic Skills Report
After a supervisor completes the Basic Skills Assessment on a manager, the Foundation staff creates an individualized report on the employee’s strengths and weaknesses and a PDP.
The report features a summary of the individual’s significant strengths; areas that need improvement, including the skills that require the most improvement; a job description; and a summary of the supervisor’s goals for the employee. Based on the areas that need improvement and the skills essential to the job, the PDP provides a recommendation of training tailored specifically for the manager.
The report includes descriptions of each of the training modules, and what the employee will learn by taking the course.
Pricing of AED University courses have been restructured to make them more affordable, and if a module is recommended for more than one employee in a branch, only one module is purchased. You only pay the initial cost once; each additional person using the materials costs just $50 for pre and post-testing.
There is no obligation to purchase anything recommended in the PDP. Investing In Your Managers
If a dealership chooses to have PDPs developed for all of its managers, they will receive a PDP Report, which provides an overview of every manager in the company and statistics on each department’s strengths and weaknesses. In this company-wide assessment, supervisors can identify areas of weaknesses for the company as a whole.
“Evaluating all your managers is ideal,” says Bogdan, “and the results are much farther reaching than when just a few employees are involved. Invest in your team. It encourages productivity and employee retention.”
A recent Gallup poll on employee engagement found that in a study of 3 million employees, 29 percent were engaged in their work, 55 percent were not engaged and 16 percent were actively disengaged, according to Chief Learning Officer, in an article written by Michael E. Echols, Ph.D.
The article also reported that Gallup found, “Well-managed workgroups are more profitable, more productive and have higher degrees of customer loyalty.”
Dealers can retain employees, increase sales and improve profitability by placing their managers and employees on the path to success through Personal Development Plans.
With PDPs, managers can identify key strengths and weaknesses for each employee, and then provide a means for improvement in those weaknesses.
“Begin with the basic premise that employee performance is directly related to skills, knowledge and talent,” says Echols. “By identifying employee strengths, the manager and the employee are equipped to build a foundation for engaged employment.”
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