In the classic book Good to Great, Jim Collins says, “…to build a successful organization and team you must get the right people on the bus.” His research shows that great companies and organizations do this. They get the right people and put them in the right seats.
But a question I’ve been wondering lately that is not in his book is “Who are the right people?” After all, in order to get the right people on the bus you must identify who the right people are, right?
While speaking to the Cornell University lacrosse team in December I had the chance to spend time with the Head Coach, Jeff Tambroni, who has built Cornell into one of the top lacrosse programs in the country. As a former Cornell lacrosse player and given the work I do now I was very curious how Jeff was able to build a winning team and attract great players year after year.
Without hesitating he said, “We know who our type of player is. We have identified what we are looking for in a Cornell lacrosse player. We tell them that we will work and train harder than any other team in the country. So if they don’t have a strong work ethic they are not our type of player. We also find the right athletes who we can develop and mold into our system. This has made it a lot easier on our recruiting. Instead of recruiting 30 players we go after the top 10 that are right for us.”
This principle of identifying the right people was echoed by the Director of Learning at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. He told me how the Ritz has saved millions of dollars by identifying the key characteristics, strengths and traits of each job/position at the hotel and then creating a benchmark that every potential employee is measured against. Utilizing a company called Talent Plus they interview each potential employee and then identify how they measure up to the benchmark of the position they are applying for. As a result they are better able identify who the right people are for each job at the hotel.
As managers, team leaders and engaged employees it’s not enough to say that we need to get the right people on the bus. We must identify who the right people are and create a process that gets them on the right bus and in the right seat.
Here’s a simple process to get started.
1. Identify who the right people are. Each organization and team will have different needs so your right people may be different than other organizations and teams.
2. One exercise you can do is to sit down with your leadership and human resources team and identify several people in your organization who you wish you could clone. Write down their characteristics and traits and create your own benchmark of the right person for each position.
3. Identify the type of person that fits your organization and team culture. For example, if you want to create a positive culture make sure you hire positive people. If you want to create a culture that is creative then hire creative people.
4. Make sure you take your time during the hiring/recruiting process. If you invest your time, resources and energy to get the right people on the bus you’ll have less headaches, expenses and flat tires later on.
5. Remember, the people you surround yourself with will often determine the kind of ride it’s going to be.
How does your organization get the right people on the bus? Join the conversation here.
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