PEOPLE: They make the wheels go round - or fall off.

Having raised four children, I’ve sung my fair share of Lou Stallman’s children’s song, “Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round”.  In the song, Stallman describes a bus traveling through town, with everything and everyone in unison.  It all works.
 
This is what we are looking for in our businesses.  Get the right people on the bus and get them in the right seat (their strengths) so they can help make it the best ride possible. Oh, and get the wrong people off the bus, because they will mess up the rhythm and the wheels won’t go “round and round”.  It will feel like you have a flat or completely lost a wheel.
 

“Culture eats Strategy’s lunch every day.”
 
This intuitively sounds pretty basic, yet most companies I work with struggle with this.  And when the ‘wrong people’ are allowed to stay on the bus, a toxic culture emerges.  This is why people are among the 5 BIG Frustrations a business owner has to overcome.
 
So who are the ‘wrong people’?  I believe they fall into two categories: 1) lack of competency, and 2) non-alignment to your core values.
 
Let’s start with the “first wrong person” on the bus – incompetency.
 
These folks simply do not have the necessary skills to be successful in their position. Whether they plateaued in their current position or could not grow into a new position, you have three options:
   1) Coach them to improve to a level where they can be successful in their current role. 
   2) Move them to another seat – the ‘right’ seat – where they do have the right competencies to contribute. 
   3) Have a heart-to-heart and free them up to find their success elsewhere.
Don’t let incompetency slow the bus. Seriously, it’s that simple.
 
Now, the “second wrong person” on the bus ­– non-alignment.
 
By non-alignment, I mean an employee that does not share or project the company’s values. This is by far the most dangerous of the two categories. Let my explain why. 
 
Core values are the handful of rules you have as a company that describe the guiding principles, behaviors and conduct with each other and the outside world.  They are not right or wrong, they’re just yours.  If want to play on the team, this is how we play.  Don’t like them, no problem – don’t come to work here. 
 
Core values don’t change. They are a little bit like corporate DNA.  When the people on the bus are behaving contrary to the core values, unhealthy conflict within the team starts to bubble up. Bad culture equals poor results and most A-players will bolt. They just won’t tolerate the nonsense. 
 
So where do business owners go wrong with people and alignment?
 
One place is the hiring process. Uncovering whether the applicant aligns to your core values or not is THE MOST important piece of the hiring process. You can teach skills. You can teach processes. But it is extremely difficult to teach or change someone’s values. That’s why it so important to get this right from the start and avoid a lot of headaches.
 
The other situation is more challenging because it often involves a high-performer. Owners trade long-standing core values for short-term results.
 
I’ve witnessed a lot of smart business owners turn a blind eye to poor behavior and actions because the person is a top producer, or has been with the company from day one, or the stickiest of situations – they are a family member.
 
The longer the issue is ignored, the more this person becomes a cancer within the organization creating fear, anger, and frustration. Leaders need to step in. Otherwise, you might as well sit back and watch them tear apart your company.  There are no exceptions to this.  I don’t believe in very many absolutes, but this is one of them. 
 
Get the right people – people that share your core values.
Get them in the right seats – let the “rock stars” shine in their positions
And you have just set the company up for a healthy culture and a smoother ride to success.
 
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