By JoAnn Auger, MSBC Executive Coach/Trainer
There has been a good bit of conversation lately about “bench strength” and most of the conversations have been about the lack of it. Baby boomers have started leaving the workforce taking their skills and intellectual capital with them. Organizations have discovered that they are lacking “bench strength” in a few areas that are critical to survive in this complex environment.
The next generation of leaders brings some vital and important skills with them. They are: technically savvy, competitive, results-oriented, and ethical. While these skills are valued and important, organizations need their leaders to create and engage others in the organizational vision, create a collaborative and cooperative environment, lead change and be a critical thinker. Therein lies the gap. How does an organization reduce this gap? Here are six steps to help strengthen your bench:
- Identify your “real” High Potentials. We tend to gravitate toward the big producers and/or charismatic people so be clear about what skills and capabilities are needed by your organization. Creating a process of assessing for these skills and capabilities is important.
- Create an individual development plan for each High Potential. The plan should include personality, leadership style, thinking preference, and 360 assessments. You may have someone who has skills and capabilities but lack the type of personality, needed leadership style and/or thinking preference. The assessments can help determine the type of development needed for each individual. By having a formalized plan, the individual will have a greater chance of getting the support and development needed.
- Utilize a mentoring program. Once you have assessed your High Potentials, connect them with a mentor that possesses the skills that are needed. Formalize the program.
- Use action/experiential learning. Ensure that these future leaders have opportunity to practice what they read and/or learn in a classroom. Use job rotations, stretch assignments and projects strategically with the needs of the High Potential in mind. There should always be a debrief of each activity with the High Potential’s leadership, mentor and coach. The debrief is vital to the growth of the individual and gives additional insight to their potential.
- Give them a coach. The “sink or swim” theory is too risky in our complex world today and it’s not good leadership. Every great golfer, tennis player, swimmer has a coach. A good coach has the ability to help the High Potential play to their strengths, manage their challenges, stretch their capabilities, apply learning, and increase their emotional intelligence. It is probably noteworthy here to distinguish between a mentor and a coach. A mentor is best described as a subject matter expert and/or someone who possess specific skills that they can teach to others. The mentor’s role is to transfer knowledge and skill to another person. A coach focuses on the transformation of the person into a leader.
- Have regular reviews and check-ins with the High-Potential and their leadership, mentor and coach. This will ensure that the individual is receiving the needed support as well as giving leadership a gauge of progress. The more open and honest the dialogue, the more likely you will have a successful leader.
According to a recent study, if boomers continue their exit, we will have 1 boomer retire every 8 seconds. Take a look at your bench. How does it look? What do you need to do strengthen your bench?
About JoAnn Auger
JoAnn Auger serves as a coach/consultant/educator with MSBCoach. JoAnn’s experience was developed through for the largest auto insurer in the US. JoAnn incorporates more than 30 years of business and personal experience to help organizations and individuals identify and close gaps in performance and needed results. She does that by helping leaders maximize their own potential and then teaches that leader how to tap into and leverage the potential of their employees.
JoAnn is certified and trained in the following areas:
- Myers Briggs Type Indicator(MBTI)
- Human Performance Improvement(HPI)
- Coaching Core Essentials Program(CEP) and Essential
- Conversations for Developing Others(Corporate Coach)
- Essential Facilitation
- Criterion-Reference Instructional Design(CRI)
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