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4 Ways to Shift Momentum in this Uncertain Environment

This morning as I watch the wave’s crash and rest upon the sandy shoreline, it occurred to me that the waves have momentum. Sometimes, they appear as flat smooth ripples and sometimes they appear to be large and unruly. Sailors refer to the latter as an angry sea. What makes the waves change momentum? It can be the wind, tornados, or hurricanes on the horizon that can interrupt marine work, charter fishing, or inland businesses such as in the auto industry. While we may not be happy with the conditions, we must make alternative plans to pivot, as we have no control over Mother Nature or in the development of the most recent crisis with COVID-19.  

Changes in the external environment can change momentum in organizations based on disruptive innovation, forward-thinking competition, economic changes, regulation, the current pandemic, or internally from just poor decision making. While we have no control over some of these changing events, we must be diligent and have a sense of urgency to pivot. We must make good decisions to shift the momentum by implementing change to survive and create or sustain a competitive advantage. 

Based on the most recent crisis, successful examples of shifting momentum have been seen from forward-thinking dealerships with the iron guts to face brutal facts earlier on and willing to take risks to invest in technology and processes to deliver vehicles online. These forward thinkers were clear winners since March 2020.  Other dealerships that pivoted did so by elevating employee motivation. They were able to shift momentum through purpose and empathy by giving back to the community and by listening to the consumer sentiments to make changes in processes and marketing to coincide with the pandemic and people’s emotions. In times of crisis providing an environment to elevate your team’s motivation can start to change the momentum, motivation, and productivity to help you emerge stronger from uncertain times.

Three Ways to Shift the Momentum to Thrive

Shift Mindsets: Create a Sense of Urgency

To shift momentum, we must shift mindsets by creating a sense of urgency to jolt people out of the status quo and to unfreeze the current state through purpose and a strong business need. Something that screams vision, purpose, and the impact on the business and voicing your care about your employee’s livelihood. In other words, rev their engines!

Create the Business Need

Hold brainstorming sessions with teams to get employee and manager input on the top two-three things that need change. To increase buy-in, have leadership teams choose the most significant, relevant, and realistic project. You may have one overall project or one per team/department. If it is team related, have the team decide together on the project. Choose projects that will either generate enthusiasm and motivation for purpose in or outside of the dealership.   

“When ordinary people connect, extraordinary things can happen.” Maya Angelou

Develop a Powerful Coalition

If you choose one major project, create a coalition for change.  This should be a team of individuals from all levels of your dealership (s) that have influence that can help develop the change process and help persuade those against change to buy-in. No one likes change, it is uncomfortable and people are fearful of how this will affect their livelihood. 

shift momentumCreate and Communicate the Vision

Create the vision for change with your coalition (or as a department team if department-specific).  Communicate it with vigor, over and over, during every meeting.  You can’t over-communicate vision. Include the sense of urgency, the ole WIIFM acronym, the what’s in it for me (the employees), and the “Why”.  Otherwise, you will get continued strong resistance and any efforts to change will fail.  For additional change management best practices, you can research and review the article by John Kotter (2007) centered around 8-steps to effective change (or why change efforts fail).

Ideas for Changing the Momentum

Under the current circumstances with the pandemic, social distancing, and social racial uprising, there are most likely a number of projects that could make a big difference in your dealerships. It should not be hard to find a very important purpose and project to help start their engines. 

The obvious today is what processes you need to develop, adjust, or become more disciplined in to deliver vehicles online or to effectively digitally market?  

The less obvious, is what processes do you have in place to attract, recruit, hire, and retain talent and a diverse workforce?  Are you just recycling the same people with the same mindsets and the status quo? What can you do to shift your momentum that could improve respect, a sense of belonging, relationships, and diversity to increase retention, sales and referrals?   

Have your managers been trained to understand how their leadership style or personality impacts others and how it may impact motivation, momentum, and productivity?  Are they aware of their blind spots and unconscious bias that can affect empathy and mindsets that either influence a higher level of resistance or visa versa, reduce the resistance to catapult change?  Managers mean well, but they may not be equipped with self-awareness and leadership best practices to help shift the momentum to thrive and maintain or develop a competitive advantage.  

The benefits of these changes could pay off dividends for years to come.


Did you enjoy this article from Martha Rader? Read other articles from her here.

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Martha Rader
Martha Raderhttps://twitter.com/PhdRader
Dr. Martha E. Rader holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and is currently the principal of Rader Leadership, based in South Florida. She specializes in leadership development, training, and executive and manager coaching and assists in building positive, purposeful, productive diverse culture in the automotive, banking, hospitality, non-profit, small business, and higher education industries.

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