Employees Not Hitting the Mark? Make Sure You're Setting the Right G.O.A.L.S.

May 19, 2020

In the March 2020 edition of Modern Tire Dealer, Mike Townsend discussed how clearly communicated expectations can create a culture of accountability at your business. In this article — the final installment in a five-part series about steps you can take to build the best possible team at your dealership — Townsend discusses how to set goals that will generate positive results.

“How am I doing?” my client’s assistant manager once asked. I responded, “How do you think you are improving?”

He had no answer but asked again, while emphasizing that he could take the feedback.

Have you been in this situation before?

Here lies one of the biggest challenges when trying to get your employees to buy into your vision in a way that is profitable and builds your brand.

There are several reasons why businesses don’t achieve the results they desperately want and/or need.

To achieve results, we first must have G.O.A.L.S.:

G, as in great. The goal must be a great. Many years ago, I remember my Sunday School teacher, Zig Ziglar, saying, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Remember that a good goal is not as good as great and good is almost always the enemy of great.

O, as in opportunities: The person who is being challenged to achieve the goal must have the best support, training and leadership in order to produce results.

When someone is being led by a servant leader who leads by example, he or she will spend the extra effort needed.

Furthermore, when things are difficult — and they most often are — that person will be more willing to implement the personal changes that are needed to attain the objective that they have agreed to.

A, as in activity. Let’s face it: behaviors and activity must be changed for most people to achieve a great goal. To achieve great results, we must stay focused on the “lead” measurements, and not dwell on what we call “lag” measurements. 

By definition, lead measurements are things that impact sales, like how well your employees engage with customers, how efficiently they manage their time and the things they are doing to improve their sales skills.

A lag measurement, in short, is something that has already happened and cannot be changed, like a past sales report. Most people focus too much time and energy on lag measurements instead of developing employees through stronger lead measurements and activities. To achieve great results, focus on the “lead,” not the “lag.”

L, as in leading others well. “My team is my fault,” I once heard the president of a seven-store retail tire chain say during a debrief after a leadership training conference.

This is so true.

You must understand the people whom you are leading. Peoples’ expectations and motivations are different. Understand how to get people to work harder because they want to, rather than because they have to.

S, as in set smart goals. A “smart goal” is one that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

The most common mistake I see is that retail tire store owners fail to expect great performance from their employees after setting attainable goals.

When working with employees to set attainable goals, it should almost always be a conversation that asks these questions: “What do you need from me to agree to this goal?” “Do you need me to invest in more training?”

Many times, the employee is afraid to ask for extra support. Maybe you need to proactively provide a proven method of sales behavior improvement or technical training to help the employee attain a new level of proficiency? Always ask questions.

And always make sure employees know what they are being challenged to accomplish. This is sometimes difficult because most people can only focus on two to three areas of improvement or results at a time.

Furthermore, employees are sometimes conditioned to hold back. I recently had a group of people in a meeting and asked all 60 of them to raise their hands as high as they could. They complied.

I then asked if they could raise their hands a little higher. Everyone in the room raised them by an extra three or four inches.

People are conditioned to hold back, but when they are challenged, they will rise to the occasion, especially if their leader is one who is worth following.  ■  

Mike Townsend is owner of Townsend Strategies, a sales and leadership training and marketing firm. He has 30 years of sales experience, 13 of them in the tire industry. As a Six Sigma black belt and professional trainer, Townsend says he “has witnessed every scenario and heard every objection in the retail tire environment across every state in the U.S.” For more information, call (865) 318-4588 or (800) 319-8552, or email Townsend at [email protected].

About the Author

Mike Townsend

Mike Townsend is the owner of Townsend Strategies, a sales and leadership training and marketing company that advises independent tire dealerships. To contact Townsend, email him at [email protected].