Enlist managers to build organizational bench strength

Enlist managers to build organizational bench strength

Building organizational bench strength is just good business. It's a way to ensure your organization has the built-in knowledge skills and experience it needs to succeed, both today and tomorrow. But it's also a critical way to drive up employee retention. By investing in your employees' development you communicate to them that they are valued by the organization. Here is some practical advice you can share with managers to enlist their help in building your organization's bench strength.

  • Familiarize yourself with the organization's core competencies. More than just words, or slogans, they are the values and skills that underpin your organization's competitive advantage. You should hold them as your own, and foster them in your employees.
  • Understand and cultivate the competencies that are critical to your employees' roles. If they're not current, or don't seem to be the best fit, work with HR to update them.
  • When you evaluate your employees' performance, including their performance on goals, make sure you consider how well they exhibited both core and job specific competencies. These are the "how" work gets done, and are as important as what employees do.
  • When an employee's performance in a particular area is lacking, or needs development, make sure you assign them a development plan that will cultivate a specific competency. And make sure you explicitly link the development activities to the competency in your discussions with the employee.
  • Don't make the mistake of equating training courses with development. Development can take many forms: mentoring, job shadowing, volunteer work, lunch and learn sessions, reading books/journals/blogs, coaching, cross-functional team assignments, webinars, podcasts, etc. Work with your employee to identify learning activities that best suit their learning style.
  • When you're working with your employees to assign goals, always make sure they have the knowledge, skills and experience to successfully achieve the goal. If they don't, make sure you put development plans and supports in place to set them up for success.
  • When you're evaluating employee performance, think about who your high-potential employees are, who your high-performers are and who's at risk of leaving. Then make sure you share your assessment with your management and with HR.
  • Have regular discussions with your employees about their career aspirations. Where their plans align with organizational needs or focus, make sure you provide development and work assignments to help prepare them for progression.
  • Familiarize yourself with the programs your organization has in place to support employee development and career progression. It's surprising how many managers don't know, and therefore don't use, the tools, resources and programs at their disposal for developing their employees.
  • Do you know what your budget is for employee development? If you don't, find out. Once you know what it is, make use of it.
  • Follow up with employees after they've completed a learning activity to see if it was valuable and effective. If it was, give the employee feedback on their improved performance. If it wasn't, let your learning and development team know, and work with your employee to put new plans in place to improve their performance.

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