Before a good company can take its performance to the next level and become truly great, it needs to have the right staff in place, author Jim Collins told attendees at the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies convention in San Diego last week.
Many companies think that a cunning strategy or great performance will attract the right applicants but that’s backward, Collins said. People must come first.
“You can’t start off by asking which direction you’re headed in … First you figure out if you’ve got all the right people on the bus, then you figure out where to drive,” said the author of such business classics as “Good to Great” and “How the Mighty Fall.”
Collins argued that making a clear-eyed assessment of key staff within an organization is one of the “brutal facts” leaders need to be willing to address as they look to set their company on the right path. Sometimes more people need to be brought on board — and sometimes a longtime traveling companion needs to step off the bus before it can move forward, he noted.
When thinking about the important positions within their organizations, leaders shouldn’t get hung up on formal titles, he added. Instead, they should think about the necessary roles in the organization and the duties that go along with them. “People don’t have jobs. They have responsibilities,” he said.
Business leaders should figure out how many key positions their organizations holds, he suggested, and then ask themselves what percentage of those spots are currently filled by the right people. “Now ask yourself, ‘What do I have to do to get to 100%?'” he said. Collins encouraged the audience to make “filling the bus” one of their goals for the coming year.
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