5 Simple Steps to Strengthen Your Team Bench

1. Document Your Processes

Documenting processes, procedures, tools, passwords, and internal/external resources gives you a powerful reference guide and manual in the event someone can no longer fulfill their role. Begin by mapping out how your workflows get done. Who does what, and what information do they access regularly to succeed in that role? What knowledge transfer is needed to keep critical functions running? This exercise will help you to gain visibility across your company, while also identifying gaps and weaknesses.

2. Cross-Train Within Your Company

Cross-training is an effective way to mitigate risks, while also boosting morale, development opportunities, engagement, and retention. People want to see a clear path for advancement, while also feeling that their company and job are safe should they be away. Let people stretch and shine in new roles, while also providing opportunities for mentoring and coaching. Not only will you improve your company in the near future, you’ll also see a positive impact in the long game.

3. Build in Support Resources

It may not be feasible to hire more than one person to fill a role, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shore up specialized support. Hiring interns can be a simple way to keep entry-level tasks humming, or you can look to contractors to augment your team. This approach is helpful in any area where it takes a certain person to fulfill a role; for example, marketing, IT, or operations.

4. Bring on Successors Early

In any role, growth is often limited to that person’s capacity: how many hours they can work, their passion for certain tasks, different work experiences, and expertise. Bringing on successors early makes it possible to assess long-term capability, and enhance capacity while removing inhibitors to growth. At MRINetwork, for example, our NextGen leadership development and succession planning program brings together current and aspiring leaders over the course of two years.

5. Be Honest in Your Approach

It takes the right culture and mindset to achieve company-wide cross-training and succession planning. People should understand that you’re not trying to push anyone out, or question how people approach their roles. The objective is to strengthen the company, build in backups, and avoid burnout to fuel growth and success. Communicate often and openly, and don’t be afraid to exit out people if you’re not able to reach alignment in your goals.