Good Leaders Know How to Get People off the Bus

By |Published On: May 6, 2014|

Probably every business leader today has read Jim Collins’ best selling business book Good to Great.  The book explains a study that Collins and several of his business school students did on the attributes of successful companies – not just marginally successful, but industry leading companies who sustained their success over long periods of time.

One of the tenets of these successful companies is they know how to “get the right people on the bus and in the right seats”.  In other words, they know how to find people who are a good fit for their company AND they know how to put them in positions where they can be successful.

I recently read a Strategy+Business article that takes this concept a step further – almost.

The article acknowledges the concept of getting the right people on the bus AND acknowledges that sometimes we make mistakes when selecting those people.  Sometimes, though a person may be right for our company in many ways – they are a good producer, they are efficient, etc. – they may not be a good fit for our company’s culture.  Perhaps they aren’t willing to buy-in to the company philosophy; perhaps they don’t treat people in the company the way they should be treated; perhaps they’re just not part of the team.  In those cases, even though they may be a “top performer”, successful leaders recognize the need to get this person “off the bus”.

The article focuses mostly on the ways to document “not being a good fit” for legal protections.  That’s where the article disappointed me.  Don’t get me wrong, legal protection is important for a company.

What I really like about the article is the idea it gave me (and hopefully will give you too) to create a method for measuring through employee evaluations each employees’ contributions (or lack thereof) to the company culture.  You see to me the important point here isn’t the legal protection that can provide the company if you decide to terminate a “top performer” for not fitting in.

To me the important point is if we measure it, it becomes reality.  If our employees know that part of their evaluation relates to how they contribute to the corporate culture we are trying to make and maintain, many will work to meet and even exceed the established goals.  In other words, by measuring individual employee contribution to corporate culture as we measure their contribution toward sales growth, customer service, operational efficiency, etc we can help mold people into the “right” people.

We hired them for a reason.  They met or exceeded our expectations during the hiring process or they wouldn’t be on the bus at all.  So, let’s find ways to get them in the right seat and keep them on the bus.  Perhaps measuring their contribution to your corporate culture is one way to do just that.

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