Driving the Bus – Part 3

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 Part Two we discussed who to hire and fire.  Next up we look around at our passengers and decide Where Should They Sit – which includes their actual physical workspaces and the kind of work they do.

We have now figured out where we are going and picked the passengers on our bus of great expectations, so our next goal is to make sure everyone is sitting in the right seats.

Onboard our bus, sitting in the right seat means each person being in a role that suits their skills and experience and where they can contribute the most to achieving our goals.

So, start the bus rolling toward the target and make adjustments as you go.  A team is an organism that changes everyday in small ways and your job as the manager is to be observant of the small changes.   Performance, of course, is a major indicator, but a team member’s health, their appearance or energy level and outside stressors can throw someone off track.  Too many of those small changes building up can throw enough people off track and then you get bigger tremors or even major fault lines that cause the bus to go off course.

Most noticeable in the team fishbowl is when internal stressors are causing someone to go off course – their cubby buddy, their chair, their work schedule, their part in the assignment, their perception regarding their contribution to the end goal – can all lead someone to the dark side and sap their motivation.

As a manager, small changes to make someone happy leads to big returns.

Hard-driving, self-reliant tough talking managers may scoff at the guy who needs a place to park his bike or the team member who gets too warm sitting near the window.  But solving these problems are the easiest things to do as a manager and almost always get you the best result.  Try it.  Just say yes the next time someone needs something small (which is likely gigantic to them).  People are so used to “no” and their genuine appreciation for your actions to support them will come in handy when you have to ask them for something larger and more complex in half the time.

In the end, even after everyone is sitting in the right seat, they still have to deliver.  If they don’t, then it’s time to find them another seat on the bus that fits their skills, experience and energy or it’s time to pull the cord, ring the bell and let them off at the next stop.

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