On the Bus

You want to matter?

Get on the bus.

Recently I've worked with interesting situations at several different firms.

At each I found the same dynamic kept replaying like a scene out of Groundhog Day.

Some People Mattered, Some Didn't

In each case a subgroup of otherwise intelligent, capable people were figuratively left by the wayside their contributions neither sought nor acknowledged.

They were, like my friend Ed says, retired on the job.

And in each scenario the business has a pressing issue and needed all hands on deck. Yet these people's roles were minimized.


More important, how do you prevent this from happening in your career?

How to Lose Influence

  • Be Unprofessional – Show up late, run behind, fail to deliver, etc. And always have a ready excuse blaming someone or something else. Don't be this person. Get your performance act together and step up because its really hard to re-build a bad reputation. It is so much easier to keep it
  • Stay Clueless – No one knows innately everything they need to for work: that's why people research, study and network. Should you not value (and do) that thus simply spouting quasi-facts from the hip without balance, perspective or truth you too will soon be relegated to that group of people no one listens to. Ever
  • Don't Care – Do your work with a minimum of enthusiasm, thought or originality. Compliance versus competence. Grudging versus going. Doing just what's required is a sure way to be left out of the mix for anything more demanding. Being left out is a sure way not to matter
  • Be Argumentative – Somewhere right now someone is wasting everyone else's times “playing the devil's advocate” arguing a contrarian point for no actual reason. While interesting the first time its now just obstructive as people race to make decisions and get work done. Argue in earnest or shut up and help the rest of us
  • Avoid Hard Work – When faced with extraordinary demands teams have to step up: lean in or go home. Holding back, leaving early or finding other ways to avoid your share of the hard work is a great way to tell the team you're not one of them. And when the crisis slows and work demands return to a more normal level? You still won't be one of them
  • Ignore Relationships – Without doubt the single biggest thing you can do to lose influence is to ignore relationships. Even the uber smartest make this mistake: its a social issue not an intelligence one. Relationships matter so we all keep working at them continually. Ignoring this simple truth ensures that soon other people will ignore you

All organizations have ebbs and flows in demand and its easy to be a part of things when the pace is manageable. When work becomes more challenging you have to make a choice – you're either on the bus or off it as Ken Kesey would say.

So if you want to matter at work and have influence with others you have to stay on the bus even if you don't like the whole ride.

Its the journey that defines influence. Not the destination.



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