Posted on October 20, 2017 by Jill Delaney

By Mike Esposito, CEO, Auto/Mate

Many dealers realize that to improve their customer experience, they need to first improve their employee experience. When your employees are happy, they automatically take better care of your customers. Additionally, there are significant cost benefits to be achieved when you can reduce employee turnover.

One of the essential building blocks that contribute to employee happiness is team building. Numerous studies document the benefits of team building in organizations.

If you work in a dealership, chances are you have attended a meeting where managers have talked about the importance of teams and team building to rally motivation and cooperation. But does your dealership really foster a team environment, or is your managers’ use of team terminology merely lip service?

Here are eight signs that your employees are effectively functioning as team members.

1) Employees communicate well. Members of a team communicate effectively and have good relationships with each other. When employees enjoy participating in activities with each other outside of work, that’s a good sign.

However, if there’s a department in your dealership that has a history of infighting, employees are not on the same page or are afraid to speak up, that’s a sign that your employees are not functioning as a team.

2) Employees are motivated. Even the most motivated employees experience occasional periods where their motivation flags. Team members help to keep each other motivated and also hold one another accountable if someone is not doing their part.

If you have employees that play the blame game, don’t accept responsibility for their mistakes and only do the bare minimum of their job responsibilities, they are not motivated and therefore do not feel like they are part of a team.

3) Employees know their strengths and weaknesses. When employees work together as a team it becomes apparent pretty quickly what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are. Rather than attack each other’s weaknesses, team members promote each other’s strengths and adjust their responsibilities accordingly to maximize team productivity.

4) Employee morale is high. Employees who work as a part of a team report higher levels of satisfaction, morale and happiness. High morale is pretty easy to identify if you’re looking for it. Do your employees arrive at work with a smile on their face and tackle the day’s work responsibilities with enthusiasm? Or do they procrastinate, complain and engage in morale-killing gossip?

5) Employees respect each other. When employees are functioning as a team, they promote mutual respect and understanding of fellow employees, even those with different viewpoints than their own. If, on the other hand, there are signs of bullying, belittling or malicious gossip between employees, you can be sure your employees do not feel like they are part of a cohesive team. Employees who feel like they are on a team do not tolerate this behavior.

6) Employees have each other’s back. Life happens. Occasionally employees get sick, experience a crisis or some other type of setback that impacts their productivity. In these instances team members will gladly step up to offer support. That may be emotional support and/or helping out with work duties. If you have employees who feel like they’ve been thrown under the bus by other employees, that’s a sure sign they are not functioning as a team.

7) Employees work together to achieve organizational objectives. Every human being desires purpose. Every great organization has a mission statement and a vision that inspires purpose. Every employee on a team knows what they are working toward and why. Good leaders know they can’t get anywhere without their employees’ help. Members of a team know this, support the goal, work hard toward it and celebrate milestones along the way.

8) Employees prevent rogue employees from doing things their own way. Do you have employees who routinely break rules, don’t follow processes and get away with it? In some dealerships, top salespeople or other high-performing employees are not held to the same standards as other employees, simply because of the revenue they bring in or favoritism. If this is the case in your dealership, your employees probably believe that any references to team efforts are pure lip service. Members of a team promote the processes in place, follow them and hold those who don’t accountable.

Many auto dealers face inherent challenges when they try to build teams because of the way their dealerships are managed. Traditionally, dealerships are set up to reward individual performance, rather than rewarding the efforts of a team.

I encourage dealers to review whether their pay plans motivate employees to contribute to a team’s efforts or whether they encourage a “What’s in it for me?” attitude. If it’s the latter, you may want to consider revamping pay plans so they reward team performance rather than individual performance.

For more tips on team building, download our free eBook, “The Auto Dealer’s Guide to Team Building,” available now on Auto/Mate’s website.

What tips do you have for team building?