March 7, 2019 - Issue 19-10

Good Afternoon  ,

When you look at the roster for a football team, how many players to you think are on that roster? At any one time, there are eleven players on the field. 

The roster often includes 50 or more. Why so many?

Think of the situations that might require a substitute for a first-line player:
  • Injuries
  • Travel complications
  • A player gets ejected from the game for rules infractions
  • A player needs a rest for a quarter or a few minutes
  • Family emergencies
  • A player gets traded away
Every one of the players on the roster has at least one position he can fill if the need arises.  So, if the quarterback is injured, there's someone on the bench who can step into that position. Same with a line backer or any other position. 

The substitute may or may not be as talented as the first-liner, but he is trained to 
fill the position adequately. And if the sub is injured, there's another to take his position.

Companies need to have "bench strength" just like a football team.

Joe Scarlett  is the  retired CEO of Tractor Supply, a large retail organization most of us are familiar with. He held that position for many years. Naturally he learned a great deal about leadership and what it takes to build a solid team. And how to keep it running like a well-oiled machine.

Here, Joe talks about succession plans and their importance to the health of any company. Of course any other organization is no different in this respect. 

Early in his career he was responsible for cashiers. Later store managers.   He found that he might be the replacement for a missing player if he hadn't trained a backup person. So he learned early to develop "bench strength".

Later, as CEO, he and his team initiated Tractor Supply University, or "Tractor U". It's whole purpose was to develop promising talent to back up the front-line people.
This does two things:
It provides substitutes when front liners are unavailable.
It makes it easy to promote  managers to higher level positions when they're ready. 

Joe makes a very good point here. 
Want to be promoted? It's important to have your lieutenant in the wings and ready to step into your spot. People in any position who jealously guard their positions and knowledge shoot themselves in the foot.

So if you manage 
  • A football team, 
  • A big company, 
  • A mom-and-pop shop, or
  • A department,
Consider who can stand in for any key person if they're unavailable. Develop their talent and let them know you'll count on them when they're needed to step up.

Talent is the most important asset in any organization. Pay close attention to developing it. Learn more from Joe Scarlett.

John Stevens

Note: Archived issues of The Unity Community are available here. This one goes further into the value of talent in an organization.

How's the bench strength in your organization? Your comments, thoughts and suggestions are always welcome.

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About John

Throughout a career spanning over 45 years my management style has been one of building teams to bring several competent people together to focus on a common objective. I noted early in my career that, in most organizations, there is an enormous amount of time, energy, and effort wasted by people working at cross purposes.

As I transition to life in the Argentine outback, my focus shifts from coaching to helping other business coaches and advisers get their message out to their prospective clients. With my first-hand knowledge of the benefits of effective business coaching, I am uniquely qualified to help business advisers of all stripes convey their message.

Contact Info
John B. Stevens, Freelance Copywriter

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