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How to Significantly Improve Your Bench Strength Without Stepping onto the Court

With so many Baby Boomers retiring over the next few years, is your organization prepared? Do you know who will be stepping into their roles? Do you have anyone on your bench who is a “Sixth Man” like Malcolm Brogdon on the Boston Celtics? (For those not familiar with “Sixth Man,” it’s usually the first substitute player off the bench who is both a versatile player and good scorer.)

Let’s look at how you can build your bench by incorporating a succession plan into your selection process. Most people have heard of succession plans, but do you really understand what makes an effective plan? Succession planning is a process that selects and develops high performing employees and potential leaders for key positions within the organization. It focuses on the future and identifies essential job skills and knowledge needed for specific roles. According to Deloitte, while 86% of leaders believe that succession planning is a priority, only 14% of them think that they’re doing it well. So, what do you need to do to reap the benefits of your succession plan? Here are 6 tips that will help you build a robust succession plan that supports recruiting top talent:

1. Build the Foundation

  • Identify key roles and the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to execute the functions of these positions. Remember, it’s not just for executive roles!

  • Create a plan that will train and develop people so they can move into these positions. Consider developing a multi-layer plan that promotes a long-term view.

  • Align a plan with business objectives.

  • Create a plan with the leaders and managers of the organization. Continually analyze it and make changes as needed. Effective succession plans are ongoing and constantly evolving.

2. Look at It from Two Angles

  • For more impact, develop a succession plan that looks at it by position and by employee.

  • Consider short- and long-term needs by both position and employee.

  • When identifying employees, consider employees who are currently ready, those who will be ready in 1-3 years, and those who will be ready in 3-5 years.

3. Gauge Employee Interest.

  • Have a conversation with your candidates and employees! Find out if they’re interested in moving into other roles. Some employees are content to stay in their position and may not want to make a lateral move or be promoted.

  • Remember that development doesn’t always mean a promotion.

4. Use a variety of approaches.

  • Consider cross training, shadowing, job rotations, mentoring, continuing education, and certification classes as part of the training and development process.

  • Ask your employee! Ask employees what they would like and need for their development.

  • Equip employees with a broad range of skills that are applicable to different roles within the organization.

5. Measure results.

  • Incorporate quantitative ways of measuring results. This may include tracking the percentage of key roles filled internally, the number of high-potential employees, the turnover rate for high potential employees, the number of employees in the pipeline, and the percentage of the time that the pipeline is used to fill a key role.

  • Utilize qualitative ways of measuring results. This is more subjective and may include job satisfaction, employee engagement, personal development, and relationships with both colleagues and leadership.

6. Incorporate it into your selection process and performance management program.

  • By including the key aspects of the succession plan into your recruiting efforts, you will improve the type of talent that you are bringing into your organization and therefore planning for future needs.

  • Performance reviews are the perfect time to tie your succession plan to an employee’s abilities, knowledge, and skills. Showing interest in your employees’ development will not only improve their job satisfaction but will help map out next steps and career advancement.

Incorporating your succession planning into your recruiting process is one of the best ways to retain employees and combat the tight talent market. The labor market will continue to get tighter as baby boomers retire. Investing in your team and planning for the future are key elements of a successful business. It also improves morale, reduces turnover, and decreases recruiting costs.

What’s the biggest mistake you can make? Not having a succession plan in place. Time to start building your bench!

Need a little help with building your bench? TalentRemedy has a team of experts to perform consultative and recruiting services. We can help you design generationally friendly work environments to help you fill those open roles. Contact us at or 703-362-0175 to set up a time to discuss how our team can support you.


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