If you picture a sports team, there are usually people sitting on the bench. They made it to the bench because, even though you don’t have an open spot for them in the game yet, they are good enough to be there. They are the next people you want to put in if something happens to your starting line-up and you need a new player.
The same holds true in our businesses, yet most people do not take the time to prepare their bench. If you have a roster of talented people just waiting to get into the game, you will be ready to bring the best people onboard as soon as there is a position. And this, my friend, is a much more effective way of recruiting talented employees than what most people are doing.
As most people in business realize, recruiting new employees is a constant process. Problem is, most companies only look for a new employee when they are in need. But this often results in the company hiring the first person who fits the bill, not necessarily the best person.
Instead, you should constantly be looking for great employees, even when you are not looking to hire. In other words, you should always be filling your bench with the best, most talented potential employees you can find. Once you have identified them, keep up a regular dialogue. Meet with them face to face on occasion, and keep track of them on your radar (a.k.a. bench). You want to stay in front of them and keep the doors open.
When you have talented people on your bench, you are ready to go when you do need to hire someone. You will have a bench of the best possible employee-candidates picked out and ready go! Now, you will be able not only to get someone into the vacant position quickly when you need them, but also to know that you are recruiting the best -- not just the best you can find during that particular week of running an ad.
Here’s one thing, though, that you will need to keep in mind about the bench philosophy. A good player will only sit on the bench for so long. If you have recognized that they are a good player, others are likely to have noticed, as well. As a result, when you are ready to recruit them, you may find out that they are also being wooed by a few other coaches. Be prepared to go to the mat to recruit that person. And if you can’t get your first-choice pick, look farther down the line, because you should have several people waiting on your bench at all times.
Great teams, whether in sports or in the business world, don’t just happen. They are a result of someone noticing talent, keeping in front of the player, and keeping their bench filled. As a player leaves, for whatever reason, you call another person in. But you know all along that you have the best players around.
Could you imagine if, during a post-season football game, they needed someone to substitute for an injured player and just picked a member of the crowd who looked like they could play? Or if the coach ran an ad in the paper, the week before, looking for the best person to fill a new position on the team?
Ask yourself, if you were to fill your bench today, who would be on it? If you know the answer, then you know who to hire when a position comes open. And if you have nobody in mind, looks like it’s time to start scouting!