Bench Strength: How to Develop Your Bench and Make Changes to Your Roster
It all starts with a visual. Bench strength conveys an image for most of us that is something like that person at the gym. They are lying flat on their back on a bench with an enormous amount of weight on a rack. They pull the bar off the rack with all that weight, carry it over to their chest, slowly let the bar down, and then push back up. For many that are into this kind of weight routine, the heavier the bar with weights, the stronger they are – and bigger bragging rights with everyone around them.
When we think about our organization and what keeps it strong and, if done right, provides plenty of bragging rights, it points right to our people. People are our biggest asset and developing them so that they are loyal, dedicated, engaged, and all the other adjectives we use to describe the best of the best is what we call developing your organization’s bench strength.
One of the big misconceptions about developing your team of people is expecting them to all have the same attributes so you can have a one-size-fits-all approach. If this were the case, then recruiting and retaining key talent would not be one of the biggest challenges for organizations. Rather, each individual has different motivations, backgrounds, behaviors, and differing levels of potential.
Diversity of people means you have to know what makes each of your key leaders and those showing high potential tick. One of my partners, Dan Schneider, often speaks about the “MAGIC,” which stands for, Must Always Get In Close. For example, high performing talent and those who are well-positioned to be our “bench strength” are those who are looking to you for:
- Inspiration: Regardless of their potential, people want to be involved in work they find inspiring. Most of them want to do something meaningful, which is another way of saying that they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
- Education: They want education to know how to do the job well or better than they have done in the past. And they want to know what the company is all about.
- Autonomy: They want autonomy to have input on how the job is going to get done. They don’t necessarily need to make all of the decisions, but they want to be part of the decision-making process.
- Feedback: Employees want real-time feedback on how they’re doing. The key to this is that the feedback is on time and as immediate as possible. So there’s not much value in waiting for an annual performance review to give them feedback, particularly when it has to do with improving performance.
Are you are providing these “things” to your people, and in a way that is meaningful to them? You also need to take a look at their overall fit for your organization. For example, consider ranking them in areas of culture fit, performance, and motivation. I work with multi-unit franchise owners employing a “scale” rating system. We rate each person on your “bench” on a scale of 1-10 with predetermined identifiers from culture, performance, and motivation. Based on their scores, we make recommendations to move the employee up sooner, develop a growth plan or put them on the radar for the future.
Investing in this exercise, you will identify where to develop your bench and potentially make changes to your roster. These changes will have an impact on other areas of the business. This is the point because these areas of your business are interdependent, so a change in any one of them can positively impact the others if done right.
Dan Iosue is a Partner of The Rawls Group, a business succession planning firm. Dan specializes in dealing with the issues that must be resolved by business owners to implement succession strategies geared towards building business value. For additional information, visit www.seekingsuccession.com or call 407-578-4455
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