Does your dealership suffer recognition deficit?

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I recently had occasion to talk with a good employee of a company in our industry whose name I’m withholding for discretion. The conversation wasn’t pleasant, but it was a stark reminder of an article I read in Forbes some time ago titled “How to Spot the One Employee That Should Never Work in Your Company.” Moreover, this employee made me realize there’s a lesson here for every owner and manager in our dealerships or, for that matter, any business.

I’ll explain:

Specifically, the Forbes article was written by David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom, co-authors with Kevin Ames and‎ Gary Beckstrand of the book “Appreciate: Celebrating People, Inspiring Greatness.”

In Forbes, Sturt and Nordstrom shared an interview they did with David Novak, the award-winning former CEO of Yum! Brands and founder of, a digital platform created to help build stronger leaders. They cited Novak as saying: “I’ll tell you the secret to great leadership. It’s to never have a certain type of person working for your organization. For me, it was a guy named Bob,” and Novak began to roll out the story.

It was a time he worked in PepsiCo, going out and doing roundtables with teams at various plants. His job was to talk to the front lines. One day he was in St. Louis talking about merchandising when everyone on the team starting raving about this guy named Bob. One person mentioned Bob taught them more in four hours than they had learned in four years. Another described how Bob had shown them everything they knew about great customer service.

“And, Bob’s not a guy you want working for your company?” asked Sturt and Nordstrom. “Well, as everyone was sharing their favorite story about Bob,” explained Novak, “I looked to the end of the table. There was Bob … he was crying. I asked him why. And, that’s when I realized I never wanted a guy like Bob to work for me ever again.”

Bob answered the question. He said he’d worked for the company for 47 years but during this meeting was the first time he heard how his colleagues felt about him. It was the first time he felt appreciated. “That’s when I realized,” Novak said, “we had to really focus on the power of recognition. It catapulted me into thinking that no matter what I do, and where I go, at any company or team I lead, recognition will be at the top of our values. No one should ever feel like Bob.”

By now I’m sure you realize the good employee I spoke about in the opening sentence of this blog is like Bob. And that should be unacceptable in any firm!

No surprise, then, that since meeting Bob, Novak says he’s made recognition a focal point of his leadership. “I realized that you can’t and don’t do anything alone,” he said. “I learned throughout my career how to build and support strong teams. And I realized that recognition is a big part of why some teams are so successful and others — no matter what they look like on paper — are not.” (His latest book O Great One!, celebrates the power of recognition.)

Finally, in their article, Sturt and Nordstrom go on to note that no one should want unappreciated people working in their organizations. And, if you’re wondering how, when and why to show proper appreciation, simply look for these three naturally occurring areas:

  1. People accomplished a goal. Results come in all shapes and sizes. Big or small, those results deserve to be rewarded. So look for employees who are accomplishing their goals, daily, monthly or longer, and reward them with something that shows your gratitude for their accomplishment.
  2. People giving their best effort. Sometimes the work we do doesn’t always create the results we were hoping to achieve. Nevertheless, when employees are giving you their effort and energy, they deserve to be cheered for all along the way.
  3. Celebrate milestones. People are committing a large portion of their lives to your organization. Celebrate people’s milestones with them. Show them how much you appreciate their commitment.

It’s true, there are people you don’t want working in your dealership. It’s those who feel undervalued, unappreciated and unrecognized — because there’s nothing worse for them than feeling like their work doesn’t matter. If you want them invested in your organization, you must be invested in them.


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