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Get The Right People On Your Bus!

“Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus”  – Jim Collins

I’ve always appreciated the quote by Jim Collins and I would guess most of you realize the value of his statement.  But many firms who are looking to add to their team worry about finding the “right” people and avoiding hiring the “wrong” people.

Recently, Tom Schryver, executive director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, addressed that question with some valuable suggestions.

Usually there is a minimum amount of technical skill required for the job which should be clearly identified and “tested” objectively or identified through references that relate to those technical skills required for the job, i.e. CAD, bookkeeping, etc.

Then Schryver recommends hiring to maximize two things: potential and fit. He references the greater value of a potential employee who is willing to readily take on challenges and continue to grow over credentials on paper.  He suggests asking candidates what they have tried that did not go well and how they handled it.  It can show willingness to take responsibility and learn from their experiences – both positive and not so positive as well as willingness to take a risk and possibly fail.  Wouldn’t you rather have an employee take the initiative, even if it would not have been exactly your approach over someone who is simply waiting for someone to tell them what to do?

What if a candidate is coming right out of school or has taken time out to raise their family? They may have a limited resume, but including situational questions — “what would you do if…”  in the interviewing process will help you detect these qualities.

As a leader and the head of your firm, your job is to identify these traits and to, as Schryver states, “harness it” to help grow your firm.  When narrowing the search to fill a position within your firm, you should not only be looking for an additional team member with ambition and initiative, but also someone who is willing to succeed as a “member” of the team over someone with ambition to succeed “in spite of” the team.

Finding someone who is a good “fit” within the culture of your existing team is a vital key to “getting the right people on the bus” so consider having members of the team be a part of the interview process to help guarantee potential new team members will be a good “fit”.  You will not only be empowering the members of the team but will also gain value from their insights.

Even for candidates with little to no recent previous work experience, use the interview to ask them about their community involvement which can show the desire to contribute to a group and ability to work as part of a team.

Your chance of “getting the right people on the bus” vastly increases when you invest the time to prepare before the search begins, and then you can fill your bus with great people!

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Gail Doby

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