Driving the Bus – Part 2 (a)

The most important thing you will do as a manager is Driving the Bus, which is a metaphor that I like to use when discussing recruiting and team building.  I recommend using the following Bus related questions to guide your hiring and team building:

  1. Where is the Bus going?
  2. Who should be on the Bus?
  3. Where should they sit?
  4. Who else can drive?

Each of these questions plays an integral role in building the team you go to battle with, and your long-term success.

In Part One, we talked about the pre-hiring process and in this post we are going to review Who Should Be on the Bus, which covers both existing staff and new hires.

Not many managers are fortunate enough to be able to form their team from scratch. In those cases, likely a start-up or small business, you can skip right to hiring after you decide Where the Bus is Going.  On the other hand, most of us inherit a team when we become a manager and then are expected to add and subtract members from that team as the company goals and team performance change to ensure the best possible results.

So before you start hiring, take a look at your existing team and decide who should not be on the bus

There are many reasons for showing someone the door, including obvious ones like poor performance (even after coaching) and destructive or criminal behaviour.  Not so obvious, but just as important, is when the company goals, focus or business model changes and team members motivation, skills and attitude do not change with the times.

I was lucky enough to work at a company for 11 years that grew very quickly and at every stage long term, high performing team members found their way out of the company because the fit between their skills and the kind of company they wanted to work for changed as the company became larger.  I made it through several changes in service and product focus, an acquisition by a larger, public company and finally a venture supported return to a private company before the fit wasn’t right for me.

I wasn’t asked to leave, but the role the new organization had for me was not a good fit.  And that’s how it will work with your team – you won’t be able to find a fit for a good person and hopefully they will recognize that they can find what they are looking for somewhere else.  If they hang in there, then you either:

  • Live with it and let them limp along riding on the glory of their former self while in a lesser role, or you
  • Invest in re-training to help that person find the new motivation that will help them become truly engaged at work, or
  • You have to cut them loose. Respectfully, honourably and honestly while recognizing that firing someone is an extremely personal act

Deciding who’s on your bus not only means asking some people to step off, but also involves inviting new people to jump on – which we will cover in the next post.

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