Terry Dortch, president of Automotive Compliance Consultants, said today that dealers who permit toxic troublemakers – often a business’ top performers – to run riot unchecked could put other employees at risk and damage dealership reputation.
It’s not likely a dealership will become a mass shooting scene, but human behaviors can too frequently strike on a smaller, less lethal scale. Bullying, abuse and other actions toward others in the workplace can leave behind victims, sorrow, distrust and anger. Toxic behaviors include gossip, unconstructive criticism, drama, bitterness, bullying, constant complaining or blaming others.
“Where these characteristics are identified in any employee and they tend to be habitual characteristics, heed the warnings,” notes Dortch. “These individuals may present with transient work histories, a history of substance abuse, an expectation of being owed, narcissism, explosive outbursts, and manipulative, caustic, dishonest and passive-aggressive behaviors. These individuals are often more concerned with what they get from their position than what they can contribute.”
Most individuals working alongside such toxic personalities will fear them and seek to avoid them but often will still end up manipulated by them. Strangely, many will find these personalities engaging as well. Not surprisingly, people continually exposed to such individuals lose time from work due to worry, deliver declining work performance and spend time avoiding the toxic personality instead of practicing efficiency.
“Often the toxic personality is a high performer for the dealership, making it difficult for management to know how to handle the situation,” Dortch said. “Don’t allow any one employee to get away with unacceptable behavior just because they produce.
“Which means toxic individuals will have to go, even if they are the dealership’s highest producers,” he said.
“The backlash of their behavior can be too detrimental to the profitability and reputation of the dealership to do otherwise.”
Dealers lacking firm hiring guidelines can be too easily enthralled with a candidate’s game face and behavior only to be unpleasantly surprised later once the candidate is on the payroll. Dortch, whose firm offers Equality Employee Opportunity, workplace discrimination and other hiring- and HR-related compliance training and audit services, cites the following to help dealers and their managers avoid hiring troublemakers:
1. Screen every candidate: From porter to senior manager, screen every applicant (do you want a porter having a history of drug abuse driving your vehicles?).
2. Check for red flags: For managerial positions handling money, look for credit debt issues that could lead to theft; look for any legal issues around substance abuse or history of hostile behavior.
3. Trust your eyes (and gut): Assess candidates visually when interviewing. Consider the appropriateness of their dress, their linguistic skill set, ability to make (or avoid) eye contact, and whether behavior is calm or fidgety. Listen for a tendency to avoid answering specific questions as to previous positions and look for work histories having time gaps or short on-the-job tenures.
4. Train everyone: Training will not rule out the possibility of an issue but it can eliminate the possibility of being held responsible for toxic individuals’ behaviors and actions to the extent of punitive damages.
Training demonstrates a sincere, proactive rather than reactive concern for the workplace. The auto dealership is more likely the target of bullies and abusers than terrorists, but every day toxic individuals and their caustic behaviors hold dealerships and their employees hostage. The damage they do might not always be fatal, but are detrimental to productivity, turnover and morale — and thus CSI.
Automotive Compliance Consultants specializes in dealership compliance, providing in-dealership consultations and analysis, compliance audits and training, and offers solutions for all compliance needs. The Automotive Compliance Consultants staff has extensive experience in the retail automotive industry and focuses exclusively on dealership compliance issues.
For information, contact Terry Dortch at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.compliantnow.com.