A common phrase (and I have used it many times myself) is “get the right people on the bus.” My apologies to all for having participated in the propagation of the metaphor, but it is all wrong. “The right bus” is short-sighted and has little application to the real world of work.

Riding a bus is a passive exercise. Once people are in the organization, do we just want them to look out the window and enjoy the ambiance?   I sure hope not.

What we want are people in the organization that are a fit with the culture and are good at the activity they have been hired to do. Assuming we have chosen wisely who to bring onto our team, we still need to make sure the work is done effectively. Below are key steps to make sure there is positive action after the hire.

  • Make success clear. Have a conversation of what success in the role looks like. Why make the person guess how to make the organization happy?
  • Communicate when expected outcomes are missed. Be upfront and tell the news when clear outcomes have not been met. If this is difficult see the step above.
  • Communicate when expected outcomes have been met or exceeded. People will do more of what gets rewarded. Being ignored is the biggest driver of disengagement.
  • Develop a clear action plan when outcomes are missed. There are basically three types of plans: plans directed by the supervisor, plans directed by the employee, and plans directed by an intact team. Sometimes an employee will not know what to do, and that means direction. More often they know what to do and the supervisor’s job is to help them see it and learn from the situation. If this sounds complicated google Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership grid.

Getting the right people into the organization is the first step, but don’t let “bus thinking” make you think that is all that needs to happen.

Have you used the “bus” metaphor? Are there alternate suggestions (i.e. right people on the boat, sports team, …)?


Photo Flickr Creative Commons