The top salesman was promoted to new car sales manager. It seemed like a good decision at the time. But within 90 days most of the other heavy-hitters in sales had quit because they could not tolerate having him as their manager.
Bias Caused that Bad Decision
Let’s say that dealership also had a saleswoman who was known for working well with difficult customers. In addition to salvaging many deals, she was also good at keeping harmony among the salespeople. Even the techs liked her. She would have been the better choice for new car manager.
Management will say they promoted the man because of his sales numbers, but they could have passed by the woman for other reasons, things they weren’t even aware of. Personal biases, subtle attitudes, and beliefs, can keep us from seeing the best opportunities before us.
In the above example, the woman’s soft skills, like the ability to work with difficult people, should have weighed heavily in the promotion decision. But senior management might have felt that a woman could not do that job as well as a man could, for any number of reasons that are invalid.
The Car Industry is Lopsided
Almost half of dealership customers are women, but most dealership managers are men. Millennials are shopping for cars, but, as a group, they don’t want to work in car sales. Why such a big disconnect between the industry’s workforce and its customers? The disparity has to be hurting business.
Why do We Have Personal Biases?
Biases feed our egos. They make us feel OK, secure, and that we have a solid view of things and how we fit in. The problem is that we are not even aware of our own biases until a drastic situation forces us to see them.
The Navy Seals Have Their Own Term for Biases
When it comes to leadership and team building, the Navy SEALs have a lot to teach us. Their term for hidden personal biases, our subconscious beliefs or attitudes that we aren’t aware of, is BOO. That acronym stands for Background of Obviousness.
It means that we all have attitudes that are obvious to everybody around us, but that we don’t see unless somebody alerts us to them. It’s normal. Typically, though, we continue making decisions as normal and our best opportunities go by us.
Biases Are Not Just Against Women
So, an obviously gay person just applied for a job as a technician. Your shop sorely needs good techs, but you’ve never seriously considered hiring gay people. Naturally, you are uncomfortable discussing this situation with your staff.
The easy way out is to hire another applicant. But chances are you are making the wrong choice. Decisions made on biases are often poor decisions. You wouldn’t know that, though, unless your staff can confront you about your attitudes and beliefs.
Is that the atmosphere you’ve created at your dealership? Only you and your staff know.