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How Garrett S. Hayim uses patience and persistence to train new leaders at Recovery Racing LLC Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2010

Garrett S. Hayim saw the potential. He couldn’t put his finger on it precisely, but he knew there was something about this prospective hire that he liked. Hayim’s problem was trying to convince this hot prospect that he was a good fit for Recovery Racing LLC.

“He didn’t want to take the job, and in fact, he promised to help us with a show for only two weeks,” says Hayim, president of the company, which does business as Ferrari Maserati of Fort Lauderdale. “He even tried to back out of that. I told him, ‘You gave us your word.’”

The rookie was true to his word, helped out with the show — and never left.

“He went from a salesperson to a sales manager up to a general sales manager to now he runs one of our stores,” Hayim says. “He is responsible for 45 employees and a $30 million or $40 million company. He’s now a small partner. It’s unbelievable how people can develop. It’s wonderful to watch them grow. Basically, he grew up on the streets and now he’s a very educated manager. He’s gone through training courses and college-level courses and accounting courses. He’s a different person from when I knew him five or six years ago.”

The key for Hayim was patience.

“He had the drive,” Hayim says. “I don’t think he thought he would be capable of the education and expertise to be a manager at that level. But with small steps, he kept wanting more and more, and we gave him more opportunities, and he kept soaking it up. Our analogy was every time he was able to lift the weight, we would throw another set of 45 plates on the bar. It would either crush him or he’d lift it.”

It’s easy when you’re dazzled by a great interview or a flashy resume and can clearly picture a role for one of your job prospects. But what happens when you’re just going by a gut feeling in making a hire? What happens when the person whom you see great things for can’t see it for him or herself?

“It’s very hard to show somebody if they can’t see it themselves,” Hayim says. “You can point it out and pat them on the back and do as much as humanly possible, but the truth is, that has a limitation. How many times can you point it out? If they don’t start to see it on their own, I don’t think they’re ever going to.”

Hayim decided to give it a shot with his reluctant find and ended up with a valuable leader in his 123-employee organization. The company sells some of the most unique automobiles in the world at its locations in South Florida and New York. It averages between 60 and 70 cars sold a month at an average sale price of $250,000. Here are some of the strategies and gut instincts Hayim followed to make it happen.

Explain your plan

You see the potential in the interview, something that grabs your attention and convinces you that this employee has what it takes to be a leader in your business. Or maybe you just want to be the one that takes that person who’s a little rough around the edges and mold him or her into a great leader.

Wherever you’re starting from, how do you unearth that hidden talent and get the person to recognize his or her own gifts?

“You don’t throw them right in the deep water and let them try to swim because you can shock even a good swimmer,” Hayim says. “You need to train someone and give them the basics and not get frustrated. You need to have a plan of steps that will allow that person to develop in a reasonable time frame.”

It starts by creating a learning environment where you’re available for questions and feedback about what’s expected and what’s coming up.

“We talk every day,” Hayim says. “It may be a relatively big business in some people’s minds, but it’s a small business in my mind.”

Be up front about what you’re trying to do. You’re not trying to trick employees or play games. You’re giving people opportunities to learn and grow. Work with an individual to develop a plan of steps and a reasonable time frame to work through that plan.

“The key to it is to grow somebody to a point where you give them the potential to keep growing within the company,” Hayim says. “Basically, I’m not going to limit them. They’ll limit themselves based on the natural limitations of their abilities.

“You have to nourish it. You have to create a challenging environment to see what that potential is. It’s specific to each job and what it is. If they are a manager, you might be adding more people to report to them. If they’re involved in advertising, you have them create a couple creative ads and see if they work. It really depends on who the person is. You need to challenge them and see where their limitations are.”

Make sure you’re clear about your expectations and about why you’re offering up a regular dose of new challenges.

“Make it very clear what their job is and what they do,” Hayim says. “What are their duties? It’s very clear. I’m not hung up on titles, but I am hung up on a very good infrastructure where people understand what they do and everyone else understands who is responsible for what so there is accountability.”

One thing you don’t want to do in expressing expectations is to make promises that you can’t live up to.

“You might have a goal of where you want them to be,” Hayim says. “If it’s a short-term focus, it’s a lot easier to tell someone, ‘Here’s where I see you here, and here’s where I see you in six months.’ But you might make a plan for somebody to eventually run the business and it just may not work. So to promise them the world could be bad for morale. They won’t trust anything you do.”

Be patient

You’re excited about this person whom you’ve identified and you want to make him or her a leader in your company. If things don’t go exactly according to plan in the training right from day one, you can’t get frustrated. Or if you do, you can’t let it show.

“Very often in our business, and in every business, steps get skipped because you get frustrated,” Hayim says. “The reason why you hired the person was you needed the help. So it’s very hard to take the time to train them. But if you want a good employee that will last a long time, you have to take that frustration and put it aside.”

That’s often easier said than done, of course. But Hayim says he has learned to at least control his bouts of frustration that come from being an emotional person. This is true whether he’s training a leader or dealing with some other problem that might occur in his business.

“You always have an initial reaction of what you want to do,” Hayim says. “Unfortunately, that reaction is very often not the right one. So you need to look at it from a little bit further point of view. If you’re emotionally connected, wait for that emotion to calm down. It’s very hard to undo some of the things you say when you’re emotional. It’s like saying the wrong thing to your wife. It’s kind of hard to take it back. You need to deal with it, come up with a plan and go ahead.”

So what happens when it’s a situation where emotions are running high and you’re not exactly thinking rationally?

“I just force myself,” Hayim says. “We call it a cooling off period. We do that because I work with family and sometimes you have emotional conversations. You just have to say, ‘OK, I’m not going to react. I’m going to take a deep breath and calm down and come back to it in a few hours. If you’re still upset, then it probably was the right instinct.”

When you take a longer-term view of the situation with the person you’re trying to develop into a leader, that can be helpful in avoiding situations that you’ll later regret.

“A lot of it is instinct,” Hayim says. “You have to be slow and analytical. You can’t just make an emotional decision because one thing doesn’t get done. You have to give people some tests and let them see if they can hit it until they get out of their reach. Once they can’t reach whatever goal you’re giving them, you’ll know you’ve hit their limitations.”

Don’t take it personally. And don’t discount the possibility that other factors may be at play that are hurting your pupil’s chances at success.

“Sometimes you have to recognize that the failures may not be theirs,” Hayim says. “There may be outside factors that you need to consider. If you give somebody a sales position and it’s in the middle of a recession, it’s not great to compare them to somebody during a boom. You need to take all elements into consideration and feel it out. Weigh the strength of each item and determine whether it comes out to a sum that shows positive improvement or not.”

Have confidence in your instincts and your ability to identify talent for your business. And just as important, stick to your plan and don’t let yourself get distracted.

“You need to just focus on what you want to accomplish,” Hayim says. “I might want to put out this little fire, but I’m not focused on that fire. I’m focused on getting us to a certain destination and that’s where I need to be. Don’t second-guess yourself all day long. … It just takes a little bit of vision so you know where you’re headed.”

Of course, you may face a situation where you’ve constructed a plan and communicated it and exhibited patient support. But despite all of this effort, the leader you wanted to groom just isn’t working out. You can’t be afraid to move on at that point and admit you made a mistake.

“Not everyone has the same pace,” Hayim says. “Some people develop early. Some kids can read at 2 ½ and some kids don’t speak until they are 3 ½. There’s no rules as to the speed of it. But eventually, if they are not getting the results, you’re going to have to find somebody who is capable. You can’t keep every employee with you forever. They have to fit within the niche, and they have to get results. There are people who don’t make it.”

But if you’ve done a good job laying out your plan and communicating with the person you’re training, more often than not, you’ll find success. Just keep in mind the things that help convince anyone to stay with a job.

“People need two things with their job,” Hayim says. “They need to enjoy and love what they do, and they need to make reasonable pay. If either one fails, you lose them, so you need both.”

The focus on these two needs helped Hayim groom a reluctant leader and has helped him endure a tough economy.

“The key to it is really having a stable environment that actually lets you enjoy those ups and downs,” Hayim says. “By treating people well, we didn’t let go of a single employee during the tougher times. You need to look at where you’re headed and find a way to get there. That takes guts sometimes. It takes the ability to say, ‘Wow, this is really difficult right now. It doesn’t feel very good, but let’s keep on pushing forward.’”

How to reach: Recovery Racing LLC, (954) 607-7928 or www.ferrarifl.com