This blog post is brought to us by MRA Global Sourcing.

When it comes to sports, a team is only as good as the players on the bench, the ones who have to fill in for the players that get pulled because of an injury or other reason. The team’s bench strength is crucial, you’ll never hear of a professional team that doesn’t have players waiting on the sidelines ready to jump in as needed. The way that organizations go through turnover, they need their own form of bench strength, or the capabilities and readiness of potential successors to step up for important professional and leadership roles.

A smart business will avoid interruption by always having a successor or procedure in place to fill the position of a fundamental individual in leadership, management, and line operations. “Being aware of the areas to construct a bench lineup in your organization calls for a systematic effort to guarantee stability, establish and preserve intellectual and knowledge capital for the future, and encourage individual advancement,” says Naseem Malik, Managing Partner of MRA Global. “Identify positions that are essential to the company’s competitive position or are distinct to your industry niche, and those with deep learning curves or dependence on an experiential approach.”

Malik recommends the following to ensure that your team is prepared when you need to call on your bench:

Set your strategic direction. Use your current mission as a starting point. Can your company accomplish its stated goals and objectives with the individuals in your current team? Take your one-, three-, and five-year plan into consideration, assess the capability you have available in light of those plans. A game plan that outlines processes, deadlines, and directions for completing tasks is necessary. Each department should identify critical functions and have a game plan for each. Individuals in your organization can be prepared to take on more responsibility in the future while increasing their effectiveness in their current roles through strategic thinking.

Make knowledge sharing routine. Contributions to projects, teams, task forces and committees should be encouraged company-wide. Your team will be provided with fresh perspectives through the use of these tactics, and in turn encourage process improvement. When a company’s culture includes routine knowledge sharing, it creates an effective, more united workforce where employees learn from others across the company. As we approach a labor market that is increasingly composed of millennials seeking mentorship and knowledge transfer from leading co-workers. Employers who can offer a company culture that includes the opportunity to interact and collaborate with different people at various levels in the organization.

Develop succession plans. Your most valuable employees make up the group most at risk of leaving for another opportunity especially in today’s candidate-driven market, and on top of senior leadership that will someday retire, a succession plan is crucial. This entails introducing fresh talent in the hiring process and identifying and developing high-potential employees. Consider the current expertise and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your existing organization. Allow all positions to communicate their interests, strengths and areas that need enhancement through an official evaluation process. This is an optimal method for understanding your organization’s bench strength, or lack of, and help you establish if critical positions have one (or more) individuals ready to step up into the role and responsibility of each position.

Don’t go it alone. Consider enlisting a search firm that specializes in your niche if you have to look away from your organization to find qualified expertise, they can give you access to their roster of potential candidates and passive candidates you couldn’t find on your own. The best people will have the most competition, it’s essential you improve your current hiring practices and procedures if they prolong the hiring process. To ensure you aren’t starting from scratch when the time comes, interview top talent before the need presents itself and consider creating a position for a potential leader.

Career planning should be embedded into the process of talent management throughout your organization to form sustainable bench strength. This preparation will set the course for growth, ease employee transitions, develops future leaders for success in a continuous process that assists organizations with changes in the business, industry and overall marketplace.

“In order to stay ahead of the game, existing leadership must stay updated on recent changes in business needs and make talent pipeline management part of the company culture,” says Malik. “Developing a strategy for an ongoing, flexible talent management process should be the focus to ensure the organization can have the right talent in the right place at the right time through a committed bench of players that will keep them on top of their game for seasons to come.”
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