Get on the Bus!

Have you ever ridden a bus?  Did you ride a bus to school as a kid?  Have you vowed to never ride a bus again?  What do you think of when you are asked to comment on riding a bus?  Today, we recall those bus rides and looks at all those phrases, idioms, and comments used in the business world about buses.  I’ll bet you didn’t see this one coming!

I did not ride a bus to school every day.  I walked the two blocks from my house to school.  But, I did ride buses many times to attend sporting and other school events.  I have also ridden a number of charter buses to corporate events.  There is a significant difference between the comfort of an old-style school bus and a charter bus.  But, I recall many fun and enjoyable times on those hot/cold, rough, bumpy school buses.

Buses are used prominently in analogies in the business world.  Let’s look at some of these phrases, what they mean, and how these can be positive motivators in our work:

  1. “Get on the bus” – This is a term used to encourage individuals to join the effort, get involved, buy-in, support to team, etc.  It says that we should not be left behind while everyone else goes ahead on the journey.  For us, it might mean to get involved in our career journey, be excited about our future, or to get involved in efforts that will move us forward in 2016.  So, are you on the bus?
  2. “He might have to be thrown off the bus” – This phrase refers to an individual that does not seem to be heading in the same direction or that does not have the same destination in mind as the team.  An individual that is negative or detrimental to the team effort may need to be removed from the effort before damage occurs.  Is there someone on your team that either needs to actively join the effort or get off the bus?
  3. “Don’t throw me under the bus” – This refers to the effort by some to place the blame on others.  When you look for an individual that you can single out as the potential problem, you are throwing that person under the bus.  No one appreciates this.  Throwing someone under the bus is a way of deflecting the attention for an issue from the actual cause to another individual.  There is no place for this.  Accountability is important, but use caution when you look to singling out an individual to place blame.
  4. “We need to allow everyone on the bus that wants to come aboard” – This refers to ensuring the team is open to everyone, especially those that are not typically part of the team.  Creating an atmosphere that makes everyone welcome is a critical success factor.
  5. “No one, ever, should be forced to ride at the back of the bus” – We need everyone to participate in our journey and, ultimate, success.  Forcing someone to the backseat is essentially asking that person to take a less important role.  It is asking team members that deserve full participation to a role where their views and ideas are considered irrelevant.  This should never occur.  We need to be open to the ideas of everyone.  We need to embrace the participation of all.  The more participation we have, the better the outcome, typically.
  6. “You might need to take the next bus that comes along, no matter where it is going” – This phrase is usually used for someone that seems stuck in a situation with no hope for change.  When you find yourself in that situation, you might need to make a change or assume a new viewpoint.  You might need to go in a new direction.
  7. “If your answer is always no, we don’t need you – we can find your replacement at any bus stop” – This phrase is used when someone always takes a black or white viewpoint.  They are dogmatic and uncompromising.  This statement suggests that unless one is willing to seek a new viewpoint or get comfortable in the gray, their participation may not be needed.  Instead of looking at why something cannot be done, they need to be more open to how we could make it work.

So, the questions for today… How can we ensure that everyone has a chance to be on the bus?  Are we doing all we can to allow everyone to sit wherever they want, including the front seat?  Do we often throw others under the bus at the first hint of pressure?  In reality, we are all along for a challenging and rewarding ride in our own company.  Everyone needs to contribute.  And, everyone needs to feel that they have the opportunity to participate.  Let’s ensure that we create a culture that not only allows it, but promotes it.  Have a splendid day!

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