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Bench Strength: 5 Steps to Building a Strong Bench


This article, written by Rick Dacri, was originally published in the York County Coast Star)

There is nothing more energizing to a company than growth. Increased sales, positive cash flow, an expanding customer base, outpacing your completion. It is very exhilarating for executives and employees.

But with this excitement comes challenges. Growing from a small company to a large one requires outstanding talent. Talent that can adapt, change, thrive and deliver. Growth brings newness, unpredictability, ambiguity, and often stress. Having equipment, capacity, sales and cash will only prove helpful if a strong team is ready and able to step up. In sports it is called bench strength.

Red Sox manager John Farrell enjoyed the upper hand over the St. Louis Cardinals in last year’s World Series. Farrell had one of baseball’s most productive benches. Being able to look down the bench, seeing the right player to send out on the field at a critical time in the game proved to be a significant advantage, propelling the Sox to the championship.

I recently spoke to a business owner who was looking at doubling his business in the next two to three years, expanding his facility, and opening his business to some new, promising markets. Yet, his excitement was tempered by the sober reality that his bench strength was weak—strong enough for today, but lacking in capability for what loomed ahead.

So what steps should an organization take to build bench strength?

  1. Know What You’ve Got: Evaluate your current staff. Their ability and willingness to change, adapt, and learn are essential traits. Ongoing assessment of your employees will allow you to know your current capacity and determine what your future needs will be. At the same time, through training and coaching, you can begin to raise skill and performance levels. All high performers should have a development plan in place to ensure future readiness. While growing your staff is a critical first step, sometimes individuals who performed in the past will be unable to help you in the future. Bench strength means having high potentials that are ready to step into new roles. Difficult decisions must be made. Continue reading

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2014: Focus On Your Talent

Image(This article, written by Rick Dacri, was originally published in the York County Coast Star)

A new year. There is nothing more exciting. Always filled with endless possibilities and promise.

2014 will be a breakthrough year for the economy. All indicators are trending in the right direction. Businesses will grow, jobs will be gotten, and careers will blossom for those who are prepared and do what it takes.

The fuel that will propel the economic engine will be talent. Companies who hope to ride the wave will focus their attention on hiring the best, developing their team, and retaining their star performers.

Forward thinking executives understand this and are making significant investments in developing their people. I see it with many of my clients. With two of them, both small, Maine based companies, they recognize that growth in 2014 and beyond require two critical elements: hiring sufficient, productive staff to meet increased sales demands, and qualified supervisors to lead their operations, thus freeing these owners from the day-to-day operational demands and allowing them to focus on strategy and growth.

Each of these organizations is initiating creative recruitment strategies to find the talent they need. With an improving unemployment rate, a robust economy, in a state with a declining population, they are facing stiff competition for talent. Knowing they can’t succeed without the right people, both are taking a “whatever it takes” approach. Continue reading

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