The Right People In the Right Place

download (19)

Last week I went on a tirade in my blog about how much I hate buying cars, and why.

This week I wanted to expand further on a takeaway that was buried in my screed:

People make all the difference. It’s all about having the right people in the right places. Yet why are so many car salespeople so bad at their jobs?

I should mention that of those three great salespeople I’ve encountered, they all left their jobs before they could get repeat business from us. Not that I blame them for going and getting a better job somewhere else, but the attrition of car salespeople speaks volumes about the business culture.

Putting the right people in the right positions and keeping them there is something that businesses struggle with, and was examined in some depth a few weeks ago at in a blog post entitled The Myth of the Bell Curve by author Josh Bersin, which is well worth reading.

Here’s what I’ve observed over the years about the challenge with retaining great people. Out of a large cohort of hires, over a period of time:

The ones who are the worst at their jobs get let go (or more rarely quit just ahead of getting let go).

The ones who are the best at their jobs move on an up and out. They either get promoted within the organization, leaving a gap behind in their old role that needs to be filled, or they leave for a better job somewhere else.

The mediocre ones stay forever.

“Mediocre” sounds harsh, but I don’t mean it to be, I mean that they’re adequate: good, but not great, and not driven the way that top performers are. They’ll punch a clock, and perform their tasks adequately, but they’re not leaders.

Recently, one of my dealers who owns a chain of stores told me “If I want to improve the sales of a flagging location I move my top two salespeople there for a week.” Unfortunately, when they go back to their home store the sales at the first location go back to being abysmal again.

What’s the solution? I have no idea. Recruiting and then retaining top performers feels like a Sisyphean task.

Just make sure that your top performers feel appreciated.