Do you have the Right People on the Bus?

  photo by Jerry

A lot of thought over the years has gone into what makes a business great. In the business classic “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, 5 years of painstaking research led to a lot of interesting conclusions about what separated great companies from good companies (and all the rest).

Some of the key drivers included things like great leadership, and disciplined focus but one of the fundamental keys to a great business is that they have great people. In other words, using Collins terminology you have to get the right people on the bus if you want to succeed.

But what are the Right People?  How do you evaluate them?  Let’s hear from Jim Collins first:

Right People

When it comes to getting started, good-to-great leaders understand three simple truths. First, if you begin with “who,” you can more easily adapt to a fast-changing world. If people get on your bus because of where they think it’s going, you’ll be in trouble when you get 10 miles down the road and discover that you need to change direction because the world has changed. But if people board the bus principally because of all the other great people on the bus, you’ll be much faster and smarter in responding to changing conditions.

Second, if you have the right people on your bus, you don’t need to worry about motivating them. The right people are self-motivated: Nothing beats being part of a team that is expected to produce great results.

And third, if you have the wrong people on the bus, nothing else matters. You may be headed in the right direction, but you still won’t achieve greatness. Great vision with mediocre people still produces mediocre results.

– Jim Collins

The Right People are different for every company.  You’ve got to have people who want to be with you (on your bus) – they need to share your core values, they buy into why you’re in business and they like the other people that you’re bringing on around them.

I wrote previously about the importance of uncovering your company’s Core Values. Using those core values to identify the ‘right people’ is one of the most important things you can do in terms of building a foundation for growth.

Even for the entry level ‘paint by numbers’ jobs, having an employee that genuinely ‘fits’ with your company will have a lot of long term benefits. They will stay around longer, they will do better work because they appreciate the company and fit in and they will help to positively influence everyone around them.

You also have to have people who are motivated, not only do they want to be in the company, they also want to accomplish things…great things. It’s possible to externally motivate people, for a while, but nothing compares to the output of a self-motivated person who can and will run on their own.

Finally you also have to have the Right People in the Right Seat. They have to have the skills and abilities needed for the job (which implies that you have a clear understanding of what jobs and roles are needed…food for another post).

How to evaluate the Right People?

The most straight forward way to evaluate if you have the Right People is to simply compare them to your top 5 Core Values.  Do they consistently display those core values?  Do they occasionally display them or do the never display them. 

Set a benchmark on what you think is acceptable and see how many employees make the grade.  If they don’t hit your minimum benchmark then you probably need to work with them or start the process of letting them go.  It will be painful if you have to cut employees, but if they really don’t fit with who you are as a company then you need to let them go or risk losing your identity.

What do you think about the importance of having the Right People?  Are you familiar with companies who have made this a priority?  How about those that haven’t?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

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