Organizations are constantly evolving, as are business conditions. In order to be able to handle these changes, you need to develop a deep bench of talented people. This gives you the ability to respond quickly when the need arises.
You need both skills and experience on your team. Bench strength comes from a combination of internal team member development and external hires that bring a high level of talent to your organization.
Your efforts to build bench strength must start on Day One for every new hire as you compile and evaluate answers to the following questions:
- What skills do they have today?
- What is their potential in the future?
- Are they quick studies?
- Do they have good team skills?
- Can they communicate well?
- What kind of experience do they have?
- What do they want to do in the future?
- Are they open to travel?
- Are they locked into a geographic area? \
The more you know, the more you can look ahead and have an understanding of options both for the employee and the organization. If you want to retain good employees, it is important to have an open conversation and complete understanding of the employee’s advancement goals. If there is an opportunity to be had in the future, let them know that early and often and groom them for the promotion.
As your employees grow in their job responsibilities, so too can your company. The team members in the trenches and on the front lines are the “face” of the organization and will have the largest impact on your bottom line results.
Another important aspect of developing bench strength is understanding the demographics of your organization and where there may be future opportunities. Always be looking ahead to fill slots with the right people, with the right skills, at the right time.
As a manager, it is important to keep in regular contact with your employees either through weekly one-on-one meetings, annual reviews or during on-site visits. Just like businesses, people’s circumstances change and you need to stay current on what is going on with employees you have earmarked for growth or leadership positions.
Also, throughout their career, make sure key employees are growing in the areas that can help serve them best. Participation on project teams, recommended reading lists, professional conferences and training are all ways you can continue to invest in your people. Stretch them in terms of what they do and how they do it. That is how they will grow to be the leaders you envision and need.
By planting seeds early, you will reap the benefits over time. In my company, we have many examples where we have promoted people out of the technician and driver ranks into leadership positions throughout the organization. Most have been extremely successful, because of the experiences and skills they have picked up along the way. This was made possible by open communications and strategic investments in their abilities and interests on the front end.
Today’s new hire is tomorrow’s leader. Make day one count.