Bench strength is defined as the number of substitutes available for replacing a person in a key role within an organization, in case of a vacancy in that position. Bench Strength Analysis is an important component of succession planning, and this metric provides information about the number of possible successors for a given position. The organizational needs were traditionally met by promotions, a time honored practice, where the incumbent was replaced through promoting a selected individual from within the organization.
However, with changing times, and for survival in a dog eat dog world, businesses have had to rethink their ideas regarding better management of human capital. Bench strength assessment is about managing risk and talent alongside. It mitigates risks to the organization arising out of sudden executive departures and optimizes the resources available to it in terms of human capital—the skills available and the capabilities that can be developed to its advantage. An organization can profit in a large way from carrying out a few activities that set the stage for a future oriented growth map. The processes carried out must be outlined and listed carefully. There must also be an assessment of resources, knowledge, skills and competencies required to keep the processes flowing seamlessly.
Assessing Bench Strength
This, in other words, is known as ‘talent review’, and is the first part of the process. The organization must be scrutinized from the top down in order to figure out all the key positions and critical roles. It is also vital that more than one person be selected for the successor role as there is no certainty that the one person who had been chosen will be around when the need arises. Headhunters are on constant lookout for capable individuals.
Post review, it is important to create developmental plans specifically tailored for individuals to address their particular needs. There may be existing competencies, but there may also be many gaps in terms of skills required for a role that need to be bridged. For example, an individual may have superior technical knowledge, but may require better communication or networking skills, hence they would need mentoring as well as training in that particular sector. Companies that partner with the individuals in determining their career growth path get themselves an ally for the long term. Nothing induces loyalty as much as a sincere interest in the employees’ personal growth displayed by the management.
The potential successors can be educated real time by throwing them in the deep end i.e. by engaging them in critical decision making and cross departmental training to acquire knowledge, skills and a sense of operative values.
Role of Software in Bench Strength Analysis
Organizations can use software for Bench Strength Analysis to get a realistic picture of the existing capabilities and the latent potential of the individuals in an organization. These are far superior to the review of another person/supervisor/manager, as it cuts out the bias and is able to process several parameters and information from many sources all at once. Not only can that common set of metrics help evaluate every individual within the organization, but also present reports and comparative diagrams for a sweeping look and provide sound input material for constructive discussions.
It can further provide sound analysis of developmental needs, customize a training program and suggest the next role for the successor step by step, in a methodical fashion. Companies need to know the timelines and the availability of its employees, and this too can be arrived at using intelligent software. Bench Strength Analytics can come up with very tangible facts about where the organization stands vis-à-vis its human capital availability and future requirements. It is a veritable process of avoiding getting caught off guard as preparedness is the main objective.