build your bench

Blog #240

Without exception, businesses should always look at having the right people in the right seats, which also happens to be one of the greatest challenges. I believe one of the positive and unintended consequences of this COVID-19 chaos is the opportunity for all businesses to build their bench of prospective employees.

Over the past couple weeks, I have been doing a large number of “emergency sessions” to help my leadership teams stabilize. I encourage them to look at all the possibilities and opportunities resulting from our present situation. As I love to say, “With great disruption comes great opportunities.” Let me be clear, though. In no way, shape, or form am I happy about our current environment. I believe a massive number of businesses will struggle, thrusting people into financial hardships. There is no telling what the impact will be to our government and overall financial system. Thousands of families will suffer, numerous people will lose loved ones, and many individuals will endure negative long-term health impacts.

In short, it sucks – but we are in it. I believe we should look to the future to see how we can help others by identifying opportunities that lie ahead.

Building a bench of great candidates is one of those opportunities. I am seeing some of my teams experience amazing growth, while others have been forced to furlough 90% of their staff; most are experiencing something in between. In all cases, helping these folks find the silver lining is important.

What I mean by “building a bench” is this: Imagine you are in a perfect world, the economy and businesses are running again, and you have the right people in the right seats within your organization. They share your values and love coming to work. What if each of those people was truly great at what they did, was fully trained, and kicking ass? What could your organization do then? Where could you, as a leader, take that organization?

In the sales world, there is a phrase that has been used for years: “Always Be Closing” (ABC). The idea is to make sure your salespeople are always focused on closing the deal – from the moment they first meet a prospect to when the check clears. I think this the right approach for sales; however, I believe there is a bigger opportunity for the rest of the organization with the phrase “Always Be Recruiting”.

Think about it. If you are a professional baseball team manager, you don’t wait for your starting pitcher to hurt himself to start looking for back-ups. In fact, you have back-ups for the back-ups. Knowing we are likely looking at 20% + unemployment in the not-too-distant future, I believe this is the right time for recruiting and building that bench of players.

I believe this is right, even with my team that just had to furlough the majority of their staff. This company is in an industry that, when the team can return to work, will have a large amount of pent-up demand for great employees. They have always needed great people, and this can help send the right message to the entire team. Imagine being one of the furloughed employees and you receive a note that says the following:

Thank you for understanding our current challenges. You are a valued member of our team and are critical to helping us get to where we are going. We will need you to return as soon as we can re-open. We believe there will be a big demand for what we do. In fact, we are looking to build a list of quality people that would be an ideal fit for our team as we grow. Please keep in mind individuals who may be a good fit for our team..

In this example, we are not dismissing where things currently sit, but we are clearly letting them know that their job is safe, we have a plan, and we believe we will grow. Ideally, this will help put those furloughed employees at ease enough so they can assist in recruiting more people for the future. In some cases, a few of the teams with which I work have requested their HR department move into full-on interview mode with the specific intention of building a bench.

Do we know when that future time will be? No. But there will be a point where the economy will recover and things will come back to life…

Will you be ready?

Is your organization adequately preparing for the future? Are you interested in learning more about building your bench? We can help! Contact us today to find out how.

Keep Smiling,

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