Are Your People Paying their Bus Fare?

Ensuring you have the right passengers on the bus that are paying their fares is essential for your business to grow and prosper.

As business owners and senior managers know only too well, those who are not up to the job drain resources and the bottom line and hamper business growth.

As a business strategist who has seen the fallout from owner managed and family run businesses taking on under-performers, I appreciate how critical it is to seek out and nurture the top talent. Recruiting staff with mental toughness is also vital with years of slow growth ahead.

Companies crave people with the talent, experience and ‘know how’ to drive the business forward – even those doing routine jobs. MDs need staff whose mind set and ‘can do attitude match their own continuous improvement ethos – because there’s always a better way of doing things to enhance efficiency and profitability.

Like the bus on its route, passengers get on and off at each stop – and your business or operation is no different.

Are your people up to the next leg of the journey?

We’ve previously asked: “Would You Want Your Management Team Running A&E?” – Now it’s time to plot your business route by putting your management team under a microscope. Do they consistently outperform – scoring time after time – and could they run the business in your absence without the wheels falling off? Having completed this process with the management team, extend it to the rest of your employees and take note of what your responses are telling you.

What will you do with the ones that aren’t?

In the same way that passengers travelling on the same bus every day become acquainted with each other, there will employees who’ve been with you for years (if not decades) – some of whom may also have become close friends. Put the emotions aside because today’s extraordinary challenging business climate means you cannot afford to carry passengers who’ve travelled as far as they can go and are ceasing to add value. They need to disembark – a process that I’d urge you to also apply to customers who demand much of your time for very little financial reward.

What about the maybe’s?

There will also be some staff who have inadequately prepared for the next journey – but who may be worth keeping. These people may have failed to upgrade their knowledge, skills and expertise or are not asking the right questions. Some of this maybe your fault and a frank off sight one to one conversation could determine if they are capable of staying on board.

How can you revitalise and re-energise your journey?

Conducting a clean out and earmarking those you want to keep on board paves the way for you to recruit top talent. Always hire people who are smarter than you because this will bring pay dividends such as:

  • Bringing fresh ideas and added value to the business
  • Boosting your succession planning options
  • Revitalising your culture and buzz, opening peoples’ eyes to new possibilities and better way of doing things

A word of caution – avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead think long and hard about who is not paying for their seat on the bus. A simple Skill and Will Matrix tells you who needs to stay or go and who needs Guiding or Exciting.

What have you done to make sure you have the right mix of people on your bus? Share with us on a comment below, e-mail me via, go to @RichardWhatIf on Twitter, Richard Bosworth on LinkedIn or post on

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