Dealership owners and managers wear many hats including human resources director. They are often faced with a decision to fire an employee for a variety of reasons. Before you pull the trigger, stop and assess the situation. Why are you really considering firing? Is it lack of desire to learn, or the lack of opportunity to learn? What do your employees need to know?

There’s a statement I heard a long time ago – You don’t know what you don’t know. When I heard it the first time I thought it was the silliest statement ever because it’s such an obvious statement, but the more I learn in life the more profound it becomes. What you don’t know can even get you fired, but whose fault is it that you don’t know? That depends.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with not knowing. There is a problem when you aren’t willing to learn. Willingness to learn is the tipping point – the difference between development and firing of employees.

Just because someone can name all 88 constellations doesn’t mean they know how to prepare a seven-course dinner for 12. Even the most highly educated individuals can’t know everything. They can only begin to understand something new once they have been shown or exposed to what it is they don’t know. Then they must have the desire to learn.

How does this apply to your store?

You have a bunch of employees who are in the same boat. They come from different backgrounds, different upbringings and have been exposed to different life experiences. They won’t all know everything you know. This means you can’t expect them to know what you know or even what you want them to know, unless you teach or share it with them.

For starters, you need to communicate expectations to our staff. As leaders, we sometimes forget or just plain fail to verbally communicate important information to our staff. The more clearly we can communicate what they need to know, the better. Clear communication means you delivered the message in a manner in which it could be understood by the other party. The best way to make sure that you are doing that is to ask the other party to restate what you just communicated to them.

Communicating your expectations is not a once-and-done event for a couple of reasons. 1) Your expectations will change as your business changes. 2) Your team will not retain your expectations forever just because you tell them one time.

In Leadership Axioms by Bill Hybels, he tackles this topic very well. In his book, he states that many leaders believe they can fill up their employee’s “vision bucket” one time and it will be full forever. The reality is that those buckets have holes -some big, some small- and the vision leaks out at alarming rates at times and if a leader is not filling the buckets back up on a regular basis, the employees lose sight of the vision. I love his example, even more, when I replace the word vision with expectations.

If your expectation is to sell 100 used cars a month with outstanding customer satisfaction, communicate that regularly to your staff and show them what outstanding customer satisfaction looks like. Once they know your expectations for your business, only then can they begin to walk in step with you in reaching those expectations.

Your staff wants to excel, but they don’t know what they don’t know. How can you help them learn? Your staff also needs to understand it’s acceptable to not know everything today, and that you will be giving them the opportunity and tools to learn everything they need to know to excel in your business. What are your learning opportunities like in your store?