Editor's Note: Ivan Turner is a restoration industry veteran who has worn many hats including owner, consultant, and trainer. This new series of articles offers glimpses at topics covered in his upcoming book, "Confessions of a Serial Restorer: I Danced with the Devil and Lived to Tell the Story"
“One of the greatest things we’ve learned in all our research is that it all begins with people. Great vision without people is irrelevant. The principle in not getting the right people on the bus, it’s FIRST getting the right people on the bus.”
- Jim Collins
In his bestselling book, Good to Great, Jim Collins writes about how good companies, mediocre companies, and even bad companies can achieve enduring greatness. When reading the book, it doesn’t take long to realize this epic best seller was the culmination of thousands of hours of exhaustive research and comparisons between highly successful companies, some not-so-successful companies, and some in between, in addition to the sharing of his brilliant and in-depth understanding of inner workings of dynamic businesses.
As a business owner and consultant, I find it thought-provoking just how many entrepreneurs, myself included, conveyed learning very similar takeaways from the book: “I have the wrong people on the bus” or “I need to get the right people on the bus.” In others words, the business owner will feel one of two things. One thought: his or her business is not functioning as it should because there are some tribe members who simply don’t belong on the bus. Or, the owner feels people on the bus should be changing seats. Both thoughts may be another way of saying the tribe lacks leadership.
Rarely will an owner of a business acknowledge the leader/driver he or she has hired to drive the bus to a predetermined destination is operating the bus as recklessly as a drunken monkey. Nonetheless, using knee-jerk reaction thinking, it may appear the easiest thing to do is open the door and as we say in the Show Me State, just “chunk em’ off.” Take the non-performers off and keep moving ahead toward the destination. But the problem with this "chunk and run” approach is that two or three miles up the road, you realize that the bus is still sputtering and you just chunked off one person who may have been beneficial as you find yourself, and what other passengers are left, pushing your rust bucket to the closet service station which is six miles ahead, and all uphill.
There are stark differences, observed as attributes, between underachievers, average achievers, and high performance achievers. The differentiating markers have more to do with traits like a burning desire to be the very best at his or her job, an inherent desire to feel connected (think in terms of tribe mentality), a desire to participate in the growth of a company, and good, old fashioned drive. Encouraging and building up of these inherent attributes trumps any training and lip service you may have to offer them.
Here is an idea: the next time the check engine light on the bus comes on, pull over at the next exit, pop the hood, and take a look at the engine that powers your bus. You will recognize the light. It’s one of those that comes on when you’re driving merrily along your way, and out of nowhere, a problem appears. Your fast-moving bus goes from high speed down to an agonizing crawl due to an unexpected problem, most of which are simple in nature, yet require a calling in the light brigade to solve. Had you had the foresight to build systems and people qualified to run those systems it probably would have been like it never ever happened.
Like the bus engine, there are countless moving parts to a restoration company. Undeniably, the business plan will serve as the road map to the destination, a well-written employee onboarding process will serve as the directions, and a well-qualified leader will drive your bus to where you wish it to go.
If you are planning on building an onboarding process for your business, take it from someone who knows – build the process based on your five-year and 10-year destination plans. If you are currently stuck in the rut, but still have that burning dream churning in the pit of your stomach just aching to get out, then build your onboarding process based on that. It will give the needed hope to your passengers and they will clearly see a pathway to success. Building an onboarding process based on current location of the bus that is stuck in the rut is boring to high performance achievers, and when high performers get bored, they gladly jump off the bus and usually without notice while it sputters around.
I learned a lot during my 30 years owning two disaster restoration companies. One big thing I learned is my team saw and understood my dreams and visions, and ran with it. The only thing they asked for was the ability to come along for the ride. But the hard truth is when my dreams died, theirs did too. So make sure you have the right people on the bus, and it's continuing to drive forward with a purpose and a plan your entire tribe is onboard to pursue.
From the Siberian Hot Saki Club