Onboarding A-Players Should be Your First Priortity

onboarding a-players

With all the industry guru’s out there, which by the way I find some of them to be very knowledgeable, influential, encouraging and motivational, I’m continuously surprised how difficult it is to find the real ‘A’ players in the automotive dealership industry.  I’m even more surprised by how many people think, that they are one those few the industry considers to being “A” Players! Onboarding A-players isn’t as hard you would think. 

Keep in mind that being an ‘A’ player is no easy thing to do.  An ‘A’ player in one role may not be an ‘A’ player in another, but in my opinion, if you have these characteristics, then you’re likely to perform at a high level no matter what the context.

What’s the biggest single factor?

The biggest single factor in determining a dealership organizations success (or failure) is the talent the management team possesses and the alignment of that management as a team. It is being able to manage through the sometimes volatile market conditions, external factors, which are beyond the business control, the business performance and planning strategy, its execution and management talent.

Of these, management alignment and talent has proven to have the greatest level of business impact. The question is who? Not what? What refers to your business strategies, the products and value added services you sell and the best practices you use and the people you put in place to make the what decisions. Who is where the value begins, or where the problem starts”.

It’s been stated that onboarding mistakes can cost 10 times an employee’s base salary in “hidden activity based costs” lost productivity and profitability, so it is important to get it right from the start by onboarding ‘A players.’

All A-Listers Must Haves:Onboarding A-Players

Here’s my list of what I believe ”A” player characteristics should include.

  1. Competency: When we work with competent people, we’re confident and trusting, knowing they’ll deliver quality. Because one person’s performance affects the functioning of the whole team, competency takes on great significance. Competency builds a strong team. Competency erases any cause for needless anxiety and is good for our mental health, as well as the health of the team.
  2. Is “A” Real Partner And Team Player: “Hey, you’ve got a problem, let’s work on it together,” interested, engaged, respectful, and respected.
  3. Collaboration: Is at its essence, contribution. It’s what happens when we “step outside of ourselves” and honor the space we share more than where we each individually come from. Collaboration is what we create when we come together. Strong team members value the power and synergy of collaboration.
  4. Enthusiasm & Commitment: An exemplary team member has enthusiasm for the organization and commitment for its cause. An outstanding team member stands behind the organization’s ideals, vision and mission. A team player knows when to put aside the differences for the common good.
  5. Promotes autonomy: Helps the coach-ee to independently diagnose problems and consider solutions; makes informed choices regarding development.
  6. Positive. Is supportive, builds confidence, is an enthusiastic motivator. Uses praise and recognition for progress and accomplishment. Never ridicules. Is passionate. Has a sense of humor.
  7. Trustworthy. Is honest and open. Maintains confidences. Admits when wrong. Doesn’t overpromise.
  8. Caring. Is compassionate, empathetic, and sincere.
  9. Patient. Understands how hard it is to change. Is tolerant and reasonable.
  10. Results oriented. Focuses only on important issues. Is proactive and infectiously committed to helping coach perform. Follows through on all promises.
  11. Perceptive. Understands coach-ee’s strengths, shortcomings, goals, and needs.
  12. Authoritative. Is knowledgeable and wise. Is clear and specific in feedback. Has common sense. Generates valid measures of improvement. (Don’t confuse authoritative with authoritarian, which means dictatorial.)
  13. Active Listener: Plays back content and underlying feelings. Summarizes, clarifies.
  14. A Desire to Compete. “A” level players skip excuses. Their drive to compete leaves no time for excuses when pursuing various strategies to win.
  15. Has a Champion’s Mindset.  A top performer will have unwavering faith in your company’s ability to achieve. A champion’s mindset includes the belief that winning is inevitable, not a remote possibility.
  16. Self-Discipline. A dealership environment is always changing because it is growing so fast or quickly pivoting to survive. With so much in flux, an employee needs to have self-discipline and confidence in their ability to endure failure, recover from it, and persevere.
  17. Integrity. This should go without saying. One shouldn’t pursue to win at all costs. How you treat the customers who use your product or service, how you collaborate with others, and how you choose to follow through on your word can make you or break you in the long run. Integrity is foundational and sets the parameters for the organization’s success.
  18. Thinks Ahead, Anticipates, and takes Action: By understanding what to expect in each situation, great competitors know how to best position themselves see opportunities developing ahead of time.
  19. Language: Language is the conduit for growth and self-expression. While progress can happen without words, it’s language that brings forward our learning and experience. Language is the context for commitment. Language connects us and is a primary conduit for self-expression.
  20. Creativity: and “outside the box” thinking is key for organizational transformation and problem solving. Having creative thinkers on the team moves the organization forward in ways that can’t be anticipated. Nurture your creative instincts and don’t be afraid to share what you think might be unconventional ideas. Change would never occur if we didn’t have bold “outside the box” thinkers!
  21. Sense of Humor: Lightness holds the team together as much as shared values and vision. Dedication and commitment to shared values doesn’t preclude team members from having fun! Lightness adds perspective and helps to keep team members balanced. Keep your life sane so you maintain your sense of humor; laughter is healing, healthy and fun!
  22. Perseverance: Comes easily to those who are committed. When one is committed, one is steadfast in their belief of possibility. Nothing gets in the way of the vision. Obstacles are stepping-stones en route to fulfillment of the vision.
  23. Understands The Power of Asking Better Questions: Questions open communication; statements don’t.  “A” Player team members are inquisitive by nature and are open to hearing other points of view. Team members who appreciate the power of questions demonstrate strong teamwork skills. Questions move the team (and organization) forward in all directions.
  24. Reliability & Follow-Through: When we give our word, we create an expectation for others. When we deliver, others consider us reliable our word carries weight and means something. An ideal team member understands the power of the word and how strongly our integrity is based upon our word. Reliability is keeping your word, time and time again.

As you can see, nobody is perfect, but if you want to be an ‘A’ player, these characteristics and traits are fairly important.  Everyone has one or two that they need to work on, but true “A” Players are likely contain strengths in more than a couple of these areas and are able to at least tread water with their weaknesses when required.

No matter what role you have or looking to hire for, start with these characteristics. Look for people who will have the confidence to wear many hats, the capacity to take on more than an average person can handle, the natural inclination to take initiative, and the ability to grow with your business.

How about you?  What characteristics have you found in your best “A” Player onboarding? Are there other strengths that you believe ‘A’ players typically exemplify?  Is there anything on the list that you don’t believe is essential in order to be considered a top performer?