The Bench Strength of Your Organization |

The Toronto sports teams seem to be fighting for position whether it is to get into the playoffs; establish a position in a league; or just start off a season with a winning record. They all have one factor in mind, their “bench strength”.So just what do they mean when they talk about having good bench strength? Clearly it is their ability to get the job done if the regulars are unable to perform for any one of a variety of reasons. Sounds reasonable when you think of the Maple Leafs, the Raptors; the Blue Jays or the Toronto Rock, right?But, what does have to do with you? You do not own or manage a professional sports team. Rather you operate a business that is doing it’s best to both grow and be profitable. Well, folks, the truth is that if you don’t consider your bench strength you could also finish out of the running. Your company could very well end up as a failed business statistic.What exactly is bench strength in terms of a business? Consider what it is you do. Perhaps you produce a product. Perhaps you perform a service. Either way, you make use of a very valuable asset, human resources to achieve your desired results.Those very human resources are the reason you are able to do what it is that you do. You have spent time recruiting the right people with the right skills. You have established procedures that allow them to apply that skill and knowledge in the right way at the right time to the right process.Now consider what your position would be if you did not have that particular resource available to you for a specific period of time. We need only to look to labour disputes to see evidence of the impact that can have on a company. The result can be economic disaster for an organization.If you exclude labour disputes as the cause of the loss of the resource, there are several specific things you can do that will help build your bench strength.a) you can clearly define your processes, ensuring they are documented and avoid duplication
b) you can clearly identify resources that have the attributes and attitude to take over for missing staff members
c) you can provide a specific and properly coordinated Train The Trainer program to develop individuals to be able to step in for missing staff membersEach of the three items mentioned above may require a change in how you do business today but they can also mean that you will still be able to do business tomorrow. Have you measured your organization’s bench strength lately? If not, what are you doing about it? If you find it lacking, do you have a resource development plan in place to increase your bench strength?