Now and in the Future – Understanding Retail Automotive Management and Leadership

Now and in the Future – Understanding Retail Automotive Management and Leadership

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Now and in the Future – Understanding Retail Automotive Management and Leadership







We spend our days working with senior personnel, and actively encourage them to ask questions to improve their knowledge. So, it was perfectly natural for us to take this approach to find out the answers we need to keep GMD focused as a customer-centric organisation.

Our own research programme

Our key industry is the retail automotive sector, and thanks to the numerous development programmes we have run for leaders and managers, we have built up a great reserve of knowledge. But it’s a fast-changing industry, and we can’t rest on our laurels. With the objective of achieving even deeper insight into this critical sector for us, we recently created our own research programme.

Designed to understand from line managers what skills they need to perform at the top of their game, and the support they need to develop them, our web-based survey drilled down into the situations these managers face daily, and how they felt equipped to cope with them.

The second part of the research was a series of face to face interviews with senior leaders. What a fantastic opportunity this was to gain really in-depth information about the greatest challenges and opportunities in their businesses – and valuable insight into existing leadership development programmes.

A taste of the findings

In this blog, we’d like to give you a taste of the findings – and if you find this helpful, you can download the whole report at the bottom of the page. You may find it useful in guiding your future business and people strategies.

One of the questions we asked our line managers was how they dealt with an unfamiliar situation at work. 22% of line managers sought advice from their own manager, whilst 74% would request to go on a workshop, and 72% would contact an external business coach or mentor.

Interestingly, whilst a high percentage seek traditional training to fill skills or knowledge gaps, only 18% refer to previous workshop notes. Given that respondents will have been on multiple courses in the past, there’s a suggestion that unless new knowledge or skills are put into practice soon after a training event, they will be effectively lost. Alternatively, of course, it could be a reflection of the quality/appropriateness of the previous training.

Just 15% of managers would seek specific advice from an alternative person in their business such as a colleague in another department or site. This contrasts with half the managers saying they would consult an external source. Maybe managers are reticent to expose their perceived lack of skills or knowledge to their peers and superiors?

Over half of line managers cited growing and developing people as the number one skill they most need to develop. Developing a clear business vision came a close second.

When we asked about recent learning interventions, there were no surprises when on-line learning activities came out top – 70% of managers have experienced them in the last year. However, it was heartening to see that external events and instructor lead training remain well up the list at over 55% for each approach.

Our survey also determined how long respondents had worked in the sector, and covers areas such as how the respondents like to approach new aspects to their work, the prevalence of training needs analysis, and the barriers to learning and development.

When it came to our senior leaders, the battle for talent is the biggest threat to the sector right now.

However, only 50% of organisations interviewed said that their talent strategy was well aligned to the business strategy.

Identified challenges included manufacturers’ expectations and the wide choice of models available, self-registrations reducing residual value and having to operate with very tight margins.

We questioned how future leaders were identified and developed, and whether competence frameworks are actively used – on the whole, they are not. We also looked at what other industries were good sources of new blood; these included the hospitality and communications sectors.

We also examined how the industry is perceived – with all respondents feeling the overall public impression was not as good as it should be.


After examining all the results from both parts of our research, we came to six clear conclusions, and you can read them on page 21 of the report.

Click here to download a copy of the report: or fill in the form below.

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