What is your company’s bench strength?

What is your company’s bench strength?

If you don’t know what bench strength is or how strong your company’s is, then your answer is, not very.

Bench strength is the pool of internal talent your company has to readily and capably fill positions in the event you lose a valuable employee; and is your key to succession planning.

Whether your business has 5 or 5,000 employees, one of your primary objectives should be to prepare and plan for success in the future, without you.

You may be thinking, why would I want to prepare for that? Well, a company should never depend on the life or the labour of any one single individual, including its leaders.

In a world where knowledge has become a commodity, we often view an individual, or collective individuals? knowledge as indispensable. However, to effectively plan for the future, you should make yourself and your key team members redundant, not indispensable.

A business will always be at a risk of someone being here today and gone tomorrow. Succession planning risk isn’t really a risk at all, it’s about knowing your people and knowing what skills are core to the operation and growth of your business.

So how can you ensure that your business has continuity and stability in its talent?

In his No Bullsh!t leadership podcast, Martin Moore recently talked about the importance of not just planning, but realising the ?key person? risk, for businesses surviving in the long-term, and developed 8 top tips for succession planning.

Together with Martin’s top tips, we have developed 10 ways you can start smart succession planning.

  1. Focus on potential: Performance is the starting point. You cannot have potential for growth without performance in individual roles.
  2. Develop capability: Knowledge is easily required, capability is not. Shift your focus from ?knowledge is power?, to thinking about how you build capability in your teams.
  3. Need for non-negotiable skills: Focus on skills that differentiate you from your competitors, not commodity skills.
  4. Create a culture of lifelong learners: Don’t let a mountain of knowledge form in one area. Let your people acquire as much breadth of experience that they have the appetite for.
  5. Ensure you have solid processes and procedures: The best antidote for knowledge hoarding is to ensure people are compelled to document what they do, to allow new talent to more efficiently onboard and allow greater consistency for operations.
  6. Know what is happening in YOUR market: Know what skills are available in your market and always think of the risk of disruption in roles, and how you might obtain those skills if required.
  7. Make your key people superfluous: Gain confidence in covering risk by setting up your internal talent to get the job done when gaps emerge.
  8. Think about scaling: Turn the key areas of your business into simple processes that give your employees the tools they need to stay engaged and complete tasks efficiently.
  9. Create a leadership pool: Great leadership does not need to spring from specialised expertise and, it can be found from within. Provide your talent more leadership responsibilities.
  10. Implement and evaluate your succession plan: Once you have identified your candidates best suited for your succession plan, assess their development needs, implement their development plan and monitor their progress.

It may be difficult to foresee yourself or a key employee leaving, but having a smart succession plan not only enables you to nurture your company’s own talent and growth, but will ensure that your business continues to run smoothly.

The ball is in your court to make sure your team is ready to step off the bench and onto the field if you or a key employee strikes out.

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