Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great , talks about seats on the bus. It is important in your business for people to have the right seat on the bus and to be on the right bus. A company can have the right people but have them in the wrong place. This can lead to many problems and the worst might be losing a valuable person that could succeed in a different job, the right seat.
Even more important are people on the bus that do not belong on the bus. Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, often talked about the importance of telling your associates how they are doing. He received some criticism for his philosophy of getting rid of the bottom team members. One thing that he did believe in was being honest with people on how they were doing. He said the real business tragedy is not terminating someone that does not fit. The real tragedy is keeping them on the payroll for decades until someone realizes that it is not working for the person or the company. And finally someone does the right thing and lets the person go at a time when it is too late to develop a career that was right for this person. Both the person and the company lose.
What is the answer? It lies in communication. Most people struggle with telling someone bad news. Managers and leaders struggle with this just like most people. It takes courage to tell someone bad news. But, it has to be done. One of the most important differences between effective managers and those that struggle is the ability to deliver the bad news.
The times I regret the most in our company is when I have terminated someone that has been surprised by my action. I knew at the time that I had not done my job in communication. Because this happened a number of times in my history of owning and running my company, I have dedicated myself to being truthful. I have committed myself to great communication.
The result is that our company has done a better job of getting people on the right seat and moving others out of the company so that they could pursue something that would give them the opportunity for success. Our senior team uses Jim Collin’s language often in our daily work. Right seats plus right bus equals success. Do you have the right people on your bus? Are they in right seats?