Analyzing the Seats on Your Bus

selective focus of smiling asian woman taking selfie with multicultural friends in travel bus

"The right seat on the bus"

It’s a phrase you’ve probably heard many times because it’s a great analogy to describe how you should consider each of your team members and their role in your organization. Everyone has a seat, whether it’s as a driver or a rider. So, how do you get your staff into the right seats and actually buckled in for the ride? And, why is now the perfect time to get this right? Here are a few key considerations:

Hire for attitude and train for skill.

This may be overstating the obvious, but start by getting the right people on the bus. The right person for your organization needs to be coachable, fit into your business culture, uphold your mission, and have the right attitude for working with your clients. Whether we like to admit it or not, someone’s credentials don’t necessarily define their coachability, or their ability to ride on your bus. A person can have a fancy degree or the ultimate resume but neither of those things will tell you about their personality, work ethic, or mindset. 

Getting the right person in the right seat on the bus starts with a focus on hiring (or retaining) those whose attitudes and beliefs match those of your company values. And if there was ever a time to be hiring, it is now, with so many people looking for meaningful work in which they can grow. Having a people-focus can put your business in the fast lane. The right people multiplied by the right attitude, plus the right seats? That formula equals a high-functioning bus!

Identify and leverage strengths.

Of course, it’s not enough to hire the right people; you also have to put them into the right roles. Take a step back and look at your team as a whole. Who stands out to you as being your A players? Your B players? And so on … acknowledge that anyone less than a B player shouldn’t be kept on the team. From there, identify what they are good at and what they like to do. Do they “play” at what you consider “work” or maybe vice versa?

Once you have identified people’s strengths, build the role around them. If you are trying to backfill an existing position, take this opportunity to redistribute roles and responsibilities amongst the team. If your organization has already been shaken up by the pandemic (and whose wasn’t?) then the timing for this reconfiguration couldn’t be better. It might even allow you to recognize that you need to “hire over” someone currently on your team—bringing in someone with greater skill or experience in some area—in order to ensure that everyone is sitting in the right spots.

Establish accountability and remain consistent.

This is probably the most challenging part of the process. As a leader, you must be able to clearly delegate, provide regular feedback and oversight, and hold your team members accountable. If you aren’t able to do this, then it doesn’t matter what seat people are in because they are not being led in the right direction. It can often be difficult to let go and allow someone else to work on a project—or even take the wheel sometimes—because they might not do it the same way you would. But remember, the outcome is much more important than the tactic. If someone does the job differently than you but it’s done satisfactorily, consider it a win. 

Work together with each team member to establish individual goals that support the business’s overall corporate goals and initiatives, and then hold regular check-ins to see how things are going. This will not only help to build trust but also foster autonomy and encourage creativity. And it will allow you to drive your vision so your people can ride successfully within it.

It is critical that each team member understands their role within your business and the key areas where they are expected to show results.

Understanding this is essential to building an organizational structure that supports the business needs, and sets it up for long term success. Ensuring your people’s talents are properly utilized will not only improve business operations, but it will also help establish careers for your employees in which they don’t just survive; they thrive.

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