Your leadership team is one of your most important resources and it is vital to the long term health of your organization to maintain a strong "bench." A bench in a sports related context is used to describe the players who are not starters, but fill important gaps in your line up – they may also be your future starters.
The same goes for any organization, when you need additional human capital to advance a special project or address an urgent need, you rely on your bench to fill those roles. Your bench is an excellent area to develop future leaders who can experience greater responsibilities without the pressure or the spotlight that your prime time team members experience. If you have not given careful thought to building your bench, you should step back and access your organizations human resource capacity.
Succession planning is often overlooked in an organization, but should be considered a key component to an organizations strategic plan. At a recent gathering of Independent Uniform Rental operators hosted by the CSCNetwork, Eric Kurjan from Six Disciplines, presented a compelling case for a well devised succession plan. With 20 plus owners in the room, not one had a formal written succession plan – and these are forward thinking owners who all run world class organizations. Developing a strategy for integrating future leaders, family and non-family, into an ongoing organization and then updating that strategy as the needs of the organization and the capacity to lead changes serves as a keystone to a successful succession plan. With the proper planning, performance evaluation system and training programs in place – the bench continues to evolve into an incredible resource.
As a family owned business providing work uniforms and industrial floor mats in the Chicago area, Roscoe transitioned to third generation ownership in 2000 and anticipates the day that the fourth generation will join the fold. Following best practices learned through his involvement with the Chicago Family Business Council at DePaul, the uniform services President, Jim Buik, required the next generation to work in another industry for at least three years to gain valuable insight outside the family business dynamic. At a recent Family Business Day program focused on developing the next generation, speaker Amy Schman of the Family Business Consulting Group proposed future family business successor should spend 80% of their time on a regular job and 20% of their time on successor activities. As a key component of the bench, future family business leaders should be exposed to all aspects of the organization to gain a hands on understanding and appreciation for what it takes for the organization to thrive.
Every aspect of your organization is important, but perhaps the most overlooked aspect of a healthy organization is your succession plan and how your "bench" fits into that plan. Ignored and you may be headed down a blind alley, but developed over time, your organization will pass the test of time!