How Do You Change Your Culture?

Dave NewsletterDuring my travels, I witnessed something that I thought would be of value to all of us. Let me paint you the picture. This store is a lot like many stores that we visit.  The service department is losing money and the dealer wants it turned around quickly. If it was my store, I would too. There are four service advisors and fourteen technicians. The advisors are long term employees with the exception of one new hire.  The performance of the advisors, or lack of, was very evident. The two service advisors are whiners; “poor little me, I’m not making any money; nobody cares.” You know the type. We have all worked with those types of employees. 

They painted such a poor picture to the newly hired service advisor that he quit.   How do you change that culture?  We could fire them and start over, or do we train them?  We tried that last visit, that didn’t work so well.  They thought changing the interaction process was too much work.  So, what do you say to an employee who will not drink the kool-aide?  Now we just lost a great employee and you all know how long it can take to find a qualified service advisor.  So, my message is, how does it get this far out of whack without someone telling the whiners to knock it off, or else.  Are we so scared that we allow the employees to dictate to management how the organization is going to run, or is it that we think it will fix itself? Or, is there another problem?

In this case, it was about the employees stuck in a place of frustration, anger, and disappointment, with negative emotions.  They were stuck and paralyzed, and so was the dealership. They had to be willing to deal with what was bothering the advisors to get them out of those negative feelings and make them aware that type of behavior was not going to be tolerated. They were empowered to fix some of the basic processes that were giving them frustration, but for some reason did not.

Research shows that people who are happier with their lives and feel more successful, also feel that they have more control over the circumstances around them.  That is, when things don’t go the way they want, they assume they can do something different to change their situation, rather than assuming that change is out of their control.  The first step to changing a disappointing outcome is to get clear about what happened that didn’t work. If you can be as objective as possible in reviewing a disappointing situation, you’re much more likely to see what you could have done differently, what was beyond your control, and how you can change your approach next time to increase your chances of success.

Make a new plan. Once they’ve gotten clearer about what didn’t work, successful people tend to look to the future, and use their new understanding to figure out what to do next. They use what hasn’t worked as a building block for future successes. One of my favorite quotes from Thomas Edison, focuses on this process:

“When I have eliminated all the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

They don’t give up, and they don’t just do the same thing over again. Successful people create a new approach based on what they’ve learned.  Now, let’s get going and make a difference in your stores.  This is the time to prosper!


About the Author