5 Ways to Successfully Build a Bench for Your Company

How do you build a successful company? There are many answers to this question, but the one that offers the most longevity and continued success is to build a company with depth. You see, having the best talent on your team TODAY does not guarantee that you will have that caliber of talent in the FUTURE.  You always have to be thinking one step ahead.  People do change companies.  People retire.  People change departments. People get sick.  These things are inevitable. 

I have seen it all too often.  Companies are HOT one minute and soon after they are floundering wondering what went wrong.  They get complacent.  They have everything in place and everything seems to just "click".  THEN.. SOMETHING HAPPENS.  Let me do a sports analogy.  The Indianapolis Colts went to the Super Bowl in 2009.  Although they lost to the New Orleans Saints, they were at the top of their game.  In 2011, Peyton didn't play one game and the Colts went on to have a 2-14 record.  He got injured.  The Colts never thought about "What if" the star player gets hurt. 

A similar situation happened in San Francisco in 1991.  After Joe Montana led the 49ers to a a regular season best 14-2 he missed the 1991 and most of the 1992 season.  The 49ers, however, were ready.  Steve Young was being groomed to take over for the 49ers and stepped right in.  There was a plan.  In 1995 the 49ers won the Super Bowl with Steve Young.

Jack Welch gets this concept.  He ALWAYS identified people EARLY and always had DEPTH with GE.  He was always looking for his replacement and a second and a third replacement.  He groomed leaders.

How do you build a successful bench?  Here are 5 Ways that you can do it:

1.  FInd the Right Culture Fit  You could find the absolute best candidate out there with all of the right skills, but if he/she doesn't "fit" within your organization, then it will never work out.  Let's look at Terrell Owens.  Terrell is strong, fast, and a great football player.  He is, however, a mess.  He is not a leader.  He is always complaining and always finds himself in the center of controversy.  If you find someone like this to lead your organization, you are in trouble.  Look harder for someone who you can groom the can be a good fit for the company.

2. Identify your Strengths and Weaknesses  This is a must!  Your company has to know where it is strongest and weakest.  If you are strong in one area, what will you do if they leave?  Who do you have identified to take over when something happens?  Who is your Steve Young?  If you are weak in one area, start building now.  A baseball team is not successful overnight.  (That is, of course, if you aren't the Yankees and have tons of money.) You have to draft players and develop them.  Bench players have to have some battle wounds.  They must go through the farm system of A, AA, AAA.  It takes time!  Start thinking ahead NOW!

3. Identify Leaders That Are Adaptable-   The market changes.  Technology changes.  People change.  The direction of the company must change. Remember the Run and Shoot offense that the Houston Oilers ran with Warren Moon?  Talk about something completely something different that defenses have seen.  Entire defensive strategies had to be changed to adapt to this kind of offense.  Be ready because a curve ball like this could be thrown at your company. 

4. Identify Leaders that are Contrarians Find people who are not just "yes" people.  Find leaders that challenge the way things are done today.  Find innovative people.  These individuals SHOULD NOT be seen as a negative, but something as a POSITIVE.   Imagine if some of the leaders in our history listened to all the naysayers.  The iPad sure did a number of the sale of PC's and Laptops.  Leaders have to be ready for this and hire bright minds to combat and think ahead.  Thanks Steve Jobs for NOT listening. 

5.  Realize that Building a Bench is a Continual Process  Recruiting and building teams is a NEVER ENDING process.  Don't stop when you are ahead.  Work harder on thinking about the future.  I love watching great college basketball programs like Duke.  Year after year they are always in the top 25.  Why?  They NEVER stop recruiting! 

If you enjoyed this blog, please click on the link below and subscribe to my website.  Please follow me on Twitter @WillRecruits  and connect with me on Linkedin.  My personal e-mail is will will@bullseyerecruiting.net.  Thanks!  Will 

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Tags: HR Technology, Human Resources, Job Seekers, Recruiting Tools / Sourcing, Reference checking

Comment by Ryan Harding on June 28, 2013 at 5:12pm

This is one area I think Intuit is great at!  From what I can tell, the most successful technology companies are good at this.  They are never satisfied where things stand, and they are always looking at how to improve.  Thanks for sharing Will!

Comment by Will Thomson on July 1, 2013 at 11:22am

Thanks for commenting Ryan!  The great companies do a terrific job at this.  It is easy to get caught up in the moment and not think about the future.  So many great sports analogies with this topic.  Love to hear others and how other companies build benches.

Comment by Malia Jorgensen on July 1, 2013 at 6:44pm

Great post, Will!  This is something we are currently doing in my company.  We are a young company and very "top heavy"  it's been a change of thinking for people to consider bringing in folks who have great potential but need to be mentored. In the future, it won't be as devastating when we lose one of our more experienced developers. 

Comment by Will Thomson on July 1, 2013 at 11:13pm
Thanks Malia for responding! Always good to recognize and plan accordingly. Sounds like you are doing just that!
Comment by Will Thomson on July 2, 2013 at 7:43am

Thanks Mansi!  Have you talked to others about building a bench?

Comment by Will Thomson on July 2, 2013 at 9:16am

Thanks Volkan, I appreciate the comments.  That's awesome Mansi!  Will

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