Bench Strength! Horses for Courses

Bench Strength! Horses for Courses

In every Team Game, the winning largely depends on performance of star players (in business terms the “key people”). They are termed as pillars of success for the team. Any change in this key team members or star players, will have a massive negative impact on the performance. That’s why most of the coaches are more focused on developing a competent bench strength. This bench strength helps the team leader and coach (Think tanks), to rotate the responsibilities as per the situation.

Most of the organisations are having some set of functional performers in place, the real challenge comes when the team gets disturbed or the organisation are trying to venture into unknown areas.

Competition is cut throat, and super demanding in terms of decisions, knowledge and risk-taking appetite.  This takes a lot of toll on the performing team members. Keeping the consistency in performance is the biggest challenge today for the organisations and for the star performing members who are often overworked and over stressed.

Identifying backup talents on the bench who could step into that performer’s space is extremely important for consistency. Very few business leaders are having a clear-cut strategy on this point. Most of the time the focus is on retaining the performers and not anticipating the projected business challenges (Like best performing employees leave the organization, change in market or illness of family or team members etc). Believe me, rebuilding team of performers is extremely difficult and painful.

For leaders to create bench strength selecting employees is very much important and the key point here is the alignment of organisation’s culture to the employee. A culturally mis fit employee can create unhealthy working environment which creates distractions for all. people are the most important asset to the success of a company, and hiring the right team makes everything else easier.

In most of the traditional businesses, the decision making is centralized. This slows down the process of implementation, As a leader, one must create a decentralized decision-making culture to motivate them to take ownership and responsibilities. Transparent Information flow is basic need for effective decision making.

The habit of taking decision on every level will make the employees learn from their mistakes, take responsibilities in turn and prepare the organisation to get ready for the change.

If you always hire people who are smaller than you are, you shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you are, you shall become a company of giants.” — David Ogilvy

All said and done finding talented employees needs lot of planning & time investment. Approach should not be just to fill the immediate or current required skill or position. We all know cost of hiring wrong person has a very long-term effect on the organisation.

Take this simple test to check what is your organisation’s bench strength. This exercise will help you for planning in advance on building up “bench strength.”

On your Organisation chart check for each position, do you have any one who can replace the existing employee? If not, check if any employee can be trained to become a potential successor. Only then one can define the training need and time line.

You may come out with one or two names suitable for many positions. That’s not advisable.

Once you have identified a potential successor you need to give him opportunity to execute his skills. This can only be possible if the position holder is on leave or on vacation.

Create this situation for few days and see the results. Another way of creating bench strength is rotating their job to gain working experience in different functional departments.

Job rotation is good way of making the person versatile. This will show how much they are flexible and transferable.

Bench strength creates healthy competition.  This also ensures that no one will take their position for granted and everyone will strive to perform better to retain their position in the team. Create the bench strength before you need it. More importantly it also helps the management to pick “horses for courses”

By Chandrashekhar Bhat