In sports, bench strength is recognized as the quality and number of players available for substitution during a game. A recent article in Psychology Today draws parallels between championship teams and the best corporate leadership teams, noting the wisdom of creating deep bench strength to draw upon.
Each month, AchieveGlobal hosts an online poll through our eNewsletter, Achieve. In November, our survey asked, “How well does your organization do succession planning for key positions?”
Most of the respondents who participated in this survey (81%) responded that their organizations either handled succession planning poorly or fairly. For organizations overlooking the importance of succession planning, there are several reasons to consider a more strategic approach to readying managers for “substitution.”
As Ray Williams points out in that article, one excuse given for poor succession planning is economic factors: when times are tough, companies focus less on building bench strength. But consider this! An AchieveGlobal article points out that corporations that fail to identify and prepare current and future leaders are at high risk for failure across a number of areas. Such organizations often suffer in these ways:
- Inability to move quickly to capitalize on business growth opportunities
- Resistance to expand into new market spaces
- Incapacity to defend against sudden new threats from competition
- Inability to execute new strategic initiatives
- Insufficient seasoned leaders to wisely guide new acquisitions
On the positive flip-side of this discussion, organizations that engage in deliberate and systematic identification, engagement, and retention of potential leaders and talented performers, usually see targeted results, superior performance and financial strength for these reasons:
- Strong leadership bench strength = readiness = financial success
- Succession planning links directly to long-term viability of the enterprise
- Succession planning builds a sense of overall security throughout the organization
So what can you do to build bench strength in your organization? Our full report offers a long list of guidelines, but here are just a few in closing…
- Secure senior executive buy-in about the importance of succession planning
- Design and implement an overarching strategy for building bench strength, including assigning the right people, to the right place at the right time
- Identify an accurate list of leadership competencies
- Tie the process to the organization’s performance management, promotion, reward and recognition
- Engage in at least annual reviews of the succession planning process and all candidates.
To subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Achieve and participate in our regular polls, visit http://www.achieveglobal.com/research-and-resources/enewsletters.aspx
Sharon Daniels is CEO and President of AchieveGlobal.