Building a Great Bench!

Anyone who knows sports knows the importance of the term, “building the bench”. In football, a team has 11 players on the field at a time. In baseball, a team has 9. In soccer, there are 10. In basketball, there are 5 on the court. But it takes many more to field an entire team for a season.

While we could talk about any of the sports, let’s take a look at a typical team in the National Football League. At each game, there are 53 on the roster, and 46 allowed to dress out for the game. Teams in the NFL also average 22 coaches per team. That doesn’t count all of the front office, administrative staff, scouts, and the 8-member practice squad etc. In the NFL, after almost every play there are players entering and exiting the field. Many times during a game there are players who are injured and need help from the bench.

Think about your organization. How many team members does it actually take to pull off a “game day”? What happens when one is out? What if your “star” player leaves the team? What happens when a crisis arises? What do you do during peak and off-peak times or seasons? What if rapid growth happens?

The answer, “build the bench”. Build a great bench of skilled, replacement team members who are knowledgeable, prepared, and passionate to serve.

Build a great bench of skilled, replacement team members who are knowledgeable, prepared, and… Click To Tweet

INTERACTIVE teams build a great bench

Interactive team members have an influencing effect on each other. An interactive team is one that understands the value of sharing knowledge through a two-way flow of communication. When a team member only seeks their own benefit, they become silos. They become a receptacle where knowledge is stored but not shared. As a leader, you build your bench when you lead by example. Serve your team. Effective leaders give, as well as seek, knowledge from all of their team.

Effective leaders give, as well as seek, knowledge from all of their team. Click To Tweet

CROSS-FUNCTIONAL teams build a great bench

Cross-functional team members successfully include members from every level of the organization to reach a common goal. These teams include groups of people who bring varying areas of expertise to the table. When great leaders see a problem needing to be solved, they look for the team members closest to the problem and invite them into the decision-making process. This not only brings the best answer to the problem, it also strengthens everyone included in the process. Later, when a person from the “bench” is needed, they already have “real game” experience.   Click To Tweet

WELL-BALANCED teams build a great bench

Well-balanced teams know where and how people perform best. A good coach doesn’t want a team filled with players with the same skillset or talent. They need to be proficient in different areas. There is more to it than just knowing their personality, you must know how their behavior is hard-wired. Behavior is what you do and personality is how you do it. You may find that a member of your team is serving in a role that is not in their passion. By finding the best fit we help them perform by reflex actions instead of by complex reactions. Talent selection should include the right behavior and personality assessment to hire for the need of the team, not just to fill a position.

Behavior is WHAT you do and personality is HOW you do it. Click To Tweet

A prerequisite to hiring should always include these two questions:

(1) Do they fill a specific place on the team or the bench needed on the team?

(2) Are they capable of working at least two levels higher than the one where they will begin to serve?

Building a great bench means constantly assessing, positioning, and leading everyone to serve in their strength, passion, and skill-set. Leaders make it happen!