Raving Fans in Every Seat of the Bus - How to Create Them!

Great Leadership Lessons, Note 15
The Three Things You Must Do to Have Raving Fans on the Bus

In three phrases, you need (1) the right hiring, (2) the right training and (3) the right supervision. Let's unpack each one.

ONE:  The Right Hiring
It may be more appropriate to say - hiring the right people. Jim Collins makes an interesting point (and it is one that has been confirmed by my own experience). You MUST hire people who already have your core mission, values and ethos as a part of who they are. One of the frequent failures is hiring people who have the competencies we need but not the same values and ethos. We assume that if they are somewhat ballpark, we can imprint our values/ethos on them. I have "yet" to see this really work.

hiring practices

People have their core values and ethos for a reason. They believe it, they prefer it, they are use to it. Change at this level happens only with great difficulty and usually, only when the prevailing values/ethos have been proven to be inadequate.  

The problem with agreement on "core mission" is that most mission statements are sufficiently general that it is relatively easy to have "general agrement" with an organization's mission.

DO NOT ASSUME you can hire someone who does not share your core values (and even dominant strategies) and get them to buy in to them. So how can you find out if they truly hold these values? Here are a few suggestions.

First - DO NOT ASK THEM if they like your organization's values! Of course they will say yes. Instead, ask them about their own values and cultural ethos is. Ask for examples that illustrate how they live and lead with these values/ethos. How have they made previous decisions according to these values? Ask them why they hold to these values so strongly. As they are sharing about what they already hold to - pay attention to how close (or not) they are with the values of your organization.

Second - give them some scenarios and see how well their responses match the values of your own organization. If you are able, provide a scenario or two that are real time case studies you are dealing with. Compare your own values-based approach to what they describe as their approach.

Third - push them on this one. When have they "compromised on their values/ethos" and what did they learn from those times.

Remember, the older a leader, the more set in their ways. By older, I mean anyone in their mid-thirties! If you are a baby boomer leader looking to hire people in their 20's and 30's - also remember there is most likely a significant values gap. Probe this carefully. The most expensive mistakes from which to recover are when you HIRE THE WRONG PERSON. Simply put - the wrong person is one who does not already enthusiastically share what is CORE TO YOUR ORGANIZATION.

A Raving Fan is a new hire who already is deeply committed to the CORE of your organization. They are there not to eventually fall in love with the organization. They are there because they already love it.

training programs for new hiresTWO - The Right Training
Once a person is hired, then comes initial and frequent training to really cement and develop the mission, values, culture and essential strategy of your organization. Even though they already have buy-in, strengthen and nurture this buy-in. This is the bread and butter of your organization. This is the core, the future, the essence, the non-negotiables, the Hedgehog, the brand, the Way of Proceeding (Jesuits), the charisma (defining spiritual essence). You must "en-culturate" all new team members into the culture. 

They are new. Take nothing for granted. Drill it home in a vareity of ways. You should have formatl training and integration systems. You must have lots of informal conversations in the early months. Remember the idea of trajectory. Little divergences early on (about CORE STUFF) lead to wider and wider gaps as time progresses. 

Well begun is half done! Nowhere is this more true then begin well with the CORE and you are doing yourself, your organization and the new hire a great favor. Once you have the right Raving Fan on the bus -- help them become, even more of a Fan. The right training is the way to do this.

THREE - The Right Supervision/Mentoring
Very simply, the right supervision/mentoring is supervisory relationship that empowers, holds accountable and celebrates when people achieve the desired results. Raving Fans want to get results. They want the same kind of results you want. They want the mission, values and culture of the organization to flourish. Your supervisory work that helps them achieve what you both desire is a huge contribution. Great organizations consistently affirm, celebrate and reward Raving Fans who get superior results. You won't lose a Raving Fan co-worker easily if you neglect good supervision. But neither will you strengthen the Raving Fan you currently have and empower that Fan for truly exceptional results.

Neglect any of these and you will hurt your organization by not having Raving Fans consistently on the bus. Without Raving Fans giving leadership and service to the organizational objectives - it will be impossible to get the "customer" to become a Raving Fan.

Leaders - time for some more assessment. How good are you at hiring the right people, training them from the beginning and providing the right kind of supervision as time goes on?

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions Internationa

LCI - Helping You Shape the Raving Fans You Need on the Bus