The bus — the staff of Flying Horse Farms knows it well. They ride in it every day. They know exactly where everyone sits. And they are comfortable with the fact that their seat could (and should) change at any given time.
My fondness for the bus is well-known at camp. When I talk about it with the camp staff, I’m greeted with knowing smiles. The bus is an often-used illustration to describe change management because it’s easy to visualize and put into practice.
Here are some ways you can utilize the concept of the bus to create a more focused and flexible workplace.
Plan your destination
Before you decide who should be on the bus and where they will sit, you must first know where you want to go. Simple, right?
Every hiring decision should be based on your unique road map — the core mission that drives your organization. When your destination is defined, it’s easy to recognize who can help get you there.
Get the right people on the bus
The only way to reach your destination is with a strong team that shares a united focus.
At Flying Horse Farms, every staff member contributes to advancing our mission: To provide magical, transforming camp experiences for children with serious illnesses. Everyone plays a critical role in reaching our goal.
Put people in the right places
When mapping out a three-, five- or 10-year plan, also assess how each employee’s current and potential skill set fits into your future vision. Strategic planning, staff management and recalibration go hand-in-hand.
As a leader, you can’t always rely on the current seating chart to know where your employees belong. An employee who joined your organization with one set of superb skills may outgrow the position or seek new challenges.
Always be willing to move staff members into other positions or create entirely new roles. Get everyone in the right seat, drive for a while, and be ready to pull over and re-evaluate when your staff evolves or new goals take shape.
When it’s time for people to go — let them
It happens. Despite your best efforts, people might want to get off the bus or you may feel it’s time for them to leave. Regardless of the reason, it’s your job to make every departure as smooth and empowering as possible because it says everything about how you drive your organization.
Don’t get too comfortable
Be nimble. I can’t say it enough. Your seating chart will never be static. One person might be overwhelmed by their role, while another feels bored. One person may experience a personal life change that affects his or her motivation or goals within the organization, while another requires innovative challenges to stay engaged.
When it comes to employee retention and strategic planning, you’ll never be able to stand back and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. And that’s OK. It’s part of the journey.
This is your bus. You’re driving this thing. You have the power to focus on the future, to redefine existing positions or dream up entirely new ones, and to think creatively about how your staff members can best serve your mission and get you to your destination.