Protecting Your Legacy: Is your bench empty?

(Photo: Colleen Michaels / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty images)
(Photo: Colleen Michaels / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty images)

You know spring is around the corner when baseball season is upon us. Like most sports, the success of a baseball team largely depends on the strength of its bench, because there will be a need for players to come off the bench and fill in.

Our businesses are no different. If our bench is empty, we’re in big trouble if we have to replace a starter. But what steps can we take to build a bench in our businesses?

The first step is to update your organizational chart with bench positions incorporated.

Keep it simple, by only showing direct reporting relationships, not indirect reporting relationships. If I work for you, who is my boss? Show me that on a chart so I can see how the company I work for is structured.

For businesses running on EOS, there is a tool called an accountability chart. This tool is like an org chart but also includes major accountabilities for each person. I’m not against this tool, but it can overcomplicate things. I would prefer to outline accountabilities in a separate document for a variety of reasons. Keep the org chart clean with direct reporting relationships and nothing else.

Now, we need to add our bench positions. In our industry, there are two that stand out to me as essential:

Crew leader in training and operations manager in training. Let’s start with discussing the crew leader in training bench position.

Crew leader in training

We need to have some good bench strength here so that when a crew leader position opens up, there is a capable person ready to take their spot. If we don’t have a bench for crew leaders, what happens? Managers have to fill the holes and that is never ideal.

A crew leader in training is in development, which means we need to develop these up-and-coming leaders. We need to give them some responsibility that a regular crew member doesn’t have.

For example, let them drive the truck and trailer under the watchful eye of the crew leader. Let them give out some job instructions to the crew so they can get over the awkward feeling of doing that.

What title should we use for this person? Some options include senior crew member or assistant crew leader.

Regardless, the more important idea is to make this a designated position on your org chart and check that these positions are staffed.

Operations manager in training

The second critical bench position is operations manager in Training. These bench players are senior crew leaders who have the desire and ability to be promoted into management. Many of the same rules apply. We need to develop these people by exposing them to tasks that managers perform.

Here, there are many options for giving our operations manager in training experience with management responsibilities:

  • Speaking at morning huddles.
  • Training new employees.
  • Taking the lead with equipment maintenance scheduling.

The Operations Manager in Training may be more of a crew leader or more of a manager, depending on your needs and budget. The transition from the field into management may be in incremental steps. Maybe you start with 80 percent in the field and 20 percent in management, then move to 60/40, then to 40/60, 20/80, and eventually to 100 percent.

What title should we use for this person? Some options include senior crew leader, crew leader III, assistant operations manager or field supervisor. Regardless, just as we said with the crew leader in training, the more important idea is to make this a designated position on your org chart and ensure that these positions are staffed.

The nice thing about having a solid bench is that you know these people. And they know your jobs, clients and processes. You know their strengths, weaknesses and what they bring to the table.

Jack Welch, retired CEO of General Electric (GE), famously said that GE spent more than $10,000 on every new hire to make sure they passed the pre-employment screening tests and interviews.

Despite this, the H.R. managers could never predict which of the new hires would no longer be employed in a year, which would be marginal and which would be great. This means that if you’re hiring from outside, there’s a 33 percent likelihood that you’ll need to hire three people to get one great person — that’s an expensive, time-consuming and risky proposition.

How about we build a bench instead?

Now go forth.

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