Automotive retailer CarMax Inc. is placing special emphasis on tapping the hidden talents and potential of its employees.

“We are in a place where our organization is growing differently than we’ve grown in the past,” said Diane Long Cafritz, chief human resources officer at the used-auto retailer, identifying one of the challenges the company faces going forward.

“When we were hiring talent previously, we really had to focus on specialized expertise. We needed very deep experts in all the business areas that our stores operated. Now we’re growing cross-functionally. Most of our growth is on cross-functional stores. So we need to expand our talent to make sure that they are ready to deliver on our brand promise now and in the future,” Cafritz said.

In CarMax’s smaller market stores, employees are trained to work across multiple functions within the store. For instance, associates handle both sales and business office transactions.

The company has a new assessment and development program to identify store-level employees suited for a cross-functional role. Those selected go into a fast-track management training program.

“We recognize and reward what we value most, which is performance and execution, how we treat each other and our customers, and how we contribute to our communities,” Cafritz said.

CarMax is adapting to the digital age in which customers shop for cars online and come in to auto stores knowing what they want and what the competition is offering.

The company has its headquarters in the West Creek office park in Goochland County. But two years ago, the chain opened a technology and digital innovation center along the Canal Walk in downtown Richmond to appeal to urban-dwelling millennials.

“Attracting talent is always going to be a challenge. We have a lot of high-demand positions, particularly in our efforts to improve and evolve our digital offerings,” Cafritz said.

In addition to the management development program, employees can learn about other opportunities at the company on an internal website.

“Lateral moves and moving outside of your business area are a great way to learn the business and gain new skills,” Cafritz said.

“I always say that at CarMax you can take your career to places you never imagined. We really want to open that up for our associates to see that, like myself, you can be a lawyer one day and the head of (human resources) and asset protection the next. We really want our folks to be thinking very broadly about where and how they can take their career,” Cafritz said.

To show employees they are appreciated, the company holds formal recognition programs. One program, the CarMax Cares Community Service Awards, recognizes employees’ community services by giving a $5,000 grant to a nonprofit organization that the winner chooses.

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