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Who Is On Your Bench?

benchCollege football coaches know full well the importance of maintaining a solid “bench” of players who can step in and make things happen. They have to. Their best players eventually graduate … and your best, most experienced employees may be on the verge of retirement. Baby boomer retirements aren’t the only reason your organization should be succession planning. The median length of job tenure for 25-34 year olds was 3.2 years in 2012. Succession planning just makes sense. Those numbers aren’t from involuntary terminations, rather from that demographic voluntarily making a job change.

Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” – anonymous thirsty person

Consider the leadership of your organization. Has your company made transition plans for each of these individuals? Succession planning is least effective when it is developed on an as-needed basis and should be ingrained as the way you do business. Waiting to do succession planning until someone announces retirement or that they’re moving to another company is actually better termed “crisis management” considering the cost of replacing those employees.

Effective succession planning begins with identification. Who is available and on what timetable? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? Who is the best to take the position and the company to its highest potential? These questions should only be asked for senior leadership positions, they should be asked for mid-level management positions as well.

All too often, this identification of individuals for succession planning is based on four faulty ideas about making this vital decision:

  1. The old-boy “gut feeling” move. The problem with “gut feeling” is no one can put a finger on it and no one can measure it. Using this is more of an excuse than anything else since it can squash any questions about the ultimate decision. Who can question it? Face it, “gut feelings” are based on past experiences that may not have anything to do with the present reality or needs.
  2. The my-blood-heir (son/daughter/relative) or best friend/partner move. That heir may have been raised “in the company” but does that make him/her the best to continue the enterprise? How do you know? The partner may have been riding your coattails.
  3. The seniority move. Dan has been here the longest. Betty has more seniority. Dale’s been around since the early years. All fine people … but are they the leader the company needs?
  4. The experienced move. Jill knows the company and its systems better than anyone … she wrote most of the code. David is our best salesperson so he would probably make the best sales manager. Really? How do you know?

That’s the question: How do you know? Are you willing to do a little analysis?

Using Science To Find Leaders

Research by TTI has shown that there are 25 key competencies that are needed across all businesses for leadership potential to be fully realized. These key competencies range from Personal Accountability (the measure of the capacity to be answerable for personal actions) to Resiliency (the ability to quickly recover from adversity) to Futuristic Thinking (imagining, envisioning, projecting and/or predicting what has not yet been realized).

Experience with thousands of companies has proved the highest performers score above the national average in 18 of the 25 key competencies and are your best candidates for further development, including succession planning.

Do you know where your bench players stand on these 25 core competencies in relation to the national averages? Without this critical information, you may be making a succession planning move that doesn’t produce the results you and your organization needs.

Can you afford to wing it and trust your gut? Will you “hire and hope?” Or will you begin the process of accurately identifying and developing the right people to take your company or organization into the future?

Photo by Worakit Sirijinda via


Certified as a Professional Behavioral, Motivators, and Emotional Intelligence Analyst, Ron Haynes specializes in using the science of TTI’s TriMetrix HD to help companies select and develop their top talent, create job benchmark solutions, and implement succession planning. Need a solution to your employee challenges? Contact him at or at 870-761-7881.