Getting the Right People on Your Bus: Good to Great: A DLB Consulting Book Study

Right PeopleIt’s important to first get the right people on the bus before you decide where to take it. The good-to-great leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus  and then focusing on where to go.  In good-to-great companies, the “who” questions come before the “what” decisions. They come before vision, strategy, organization structure, and tactics. This ensures that the company can be more agile and change directions if strategy indicates it’s the right thing to do.

Hiring the Right People

The right employees are your most precious asset. Without them, you don’t have a great company. Finding the right employee has more to do with character traits and  capabilities than with specific knowledge, background, or skills. As you grow your business you’ll find that hiring becomes a necessity in order to move to the next level.  You and your existing employees may feel the pain of doing more than a normal workload, which might encourage you to hire the first capable person. Stop there. Remember, the right person is more important to have than someone who can simply do the job. If you’re unable to attract the right people, you’ll need to review your culture, benefits, and compensation packages. Otherwise, your growth will be limited by the ability to attract the right people.

Shifting Resources

Act quickly when you know you need to make a people change. The longer you let issues fester, the more damaging it can be to your business and culture. Before you fire an non-productive employee, be sure you don’t simply have them in the wrong seat. Look for other areas where this employee might shine.


Most companies put their best people on their biggest problems. The intent is to have a hero save the day. A downfall to this strategy occurs when you decide to sell off your unprofitable or problem business units. It’s possible that your best person could transfer with that sale. Additionally, it simply doesn’t make sense to have your best people focusing on the biggest problems when they could be using their brain power to further your biggest opportunities. It’s about priorities.


The idea that the specific structure of compensation acts as a key lever in taking a company from good to great is unwarranted. No such correlation exists in good-to-great companies. Yes, compensation and incentives are important, but for very different reasons. The purpose of a compensation system should be to get the right people on the bus in the first place, and to keep them there. Not to force the right behaviors from the wrong people.

Have you ever felt like you had the wrong people on the bus at your company? What did you do to get them in the right seat or off the bus?

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