The Most Important Skill Managers Must Learn to Excel

The key to success in management is being able to control the controllable and intentionally cause change in the areas that you are responsible for. This can only happen when there is complete clarity regarding expectations, deliverables, responsibilities and the processes that are utilized to produce results. Knowing how to drill down into the problems that are preventing you from hitting your goal is the key to taking hold of the reigns that steer the business. This approach requires the use of critical thinking skills to continually challenge the norm or accepted business practices if the results or feedback are contrary to where you are trying to go. Although this may sound simple, as though it is common sense, most managers in business today lack the critical thinking skills needed to address known challenges they observe daily in order to intentionally cause change. Many have never gone through the arduous exercise of drilling down into the processes that they use to drive their businesses, so they erroneously cling to the belief that the processes that got them to this point is still relevant, even though what they observe and the reports they read are telling them differently.

In the autopsy of most dealerships that are no longer viable, what has been found is that the writing was always on the wall for all to see. The challenge however was that the writing was in ancient Greek! The fact is that although the symptoms were expressing themselves daily, those that were observing them were incapable of understanding what it was that they were looking at. They failed to make the correlation between the numbers on the reports to the activities that their people were engaged in and the slumping sales that they are experiencing. This must change; in order for the future to be brighter than the past, we must learn from their experience.

Regardless of the department, all managers must learn how to spot opportunities and be able to drill down into its core to create workable solutions that will cause positive change. Most managers have never learned this skill so their attention remains on the effect, what’s in front of them, instead of the cause or the root problem that should be addressed to see improvement. If you look closely, you can see this knowledge deficit in businesses where managers struggle to produce consistent results because of broken or incomplete processes and employees with performance issues that are obvious to outsiders, but they, the managers seem to be waiting for a solution to be introduced or offered by someone else.

Developing this new skill in managers will be the new frontier and real opportunity for producing sustainable profits and consistent results that are predictable, repeatable and track-able in 2013 and beyond. As businesses become more efficient through the use of technology, the emphasis of managers will shift from managing people to managing process. This paradigm shift will go from focusing on the person to produce results, to developing and perfecting the processes that are proven to produce the ideal outcome so it can then be taught and continually reinforced. Consequently, the process becomes the job description and the employee’s path to performance excellence is no longer ambiguous because their execution of each activity can now be measured against a defined standard.

Developing this skill in front-line managers is long overdue in dealerships and businesses with similar business models. They are the ones that see the opportunities and challenges that impact the business daily and are in a position to do something about it. However, void of the knowledge, they ignore these opportunities when they are small or inconsequential until they become too big to be ignored.