Bench Strength: Your secret weapon to growing your business

Remote Work & Culture

Learn how to build a passive talent pipeline to grow your business when you need it.

Matt Redler
September 28, 2021

We’ve written a lot about the benefits of global talent and how to recruit, hire, and onboard global talent as you grow your business.

But one thing that can be really helpful as you think about growing your business is developing what is called bench strength. 

Like a professional sports team has players “on the bench” at every game ready to jump in should someone get injured or need to stop playing for any reason, you can build the same concept for your company.

Should you have an opportunity to grow into a new vertical or a key member of your team leaves for another role you may need people to jump in - and quick. 

In order to make the most of any opportunity (or prevent a slow down in your trajectory), you want to make sure you have some talent on your bench who is ready to make a move.

How do you do this? We’ll show you three easy steps to get started. 

Building your bench 

There are a few things you will want to consider when building your bench.

The first is the roles you have now and the roles you think you might need in the next 1-3 years.

These are people who can join you if you have the opportunity (and budget) to expand your business or if a key member of your leadership team gives their notice that they are leaving your company. 

You also can use members of your bench to backfill open roles on your team as people get promoted or move into other areas of the company to upskill and grow in their careers.

Knowing who you are looking to meet, will help you design a strategy to build a solid bench.

How to find top talent when you aren’t hiring and they aren’t looking

It is important to remember that you’re not actually recruiting people to fill open positions when it comes to building bench strength.

What you want to do is plant the idea of working for your company in the future in the minds of people who might be a good fit. In order to do this you want to: 

1. Research people with great reputations in your industry (or similar industries)

You can leverage LinkedIn and Twitter as well as word of mouth to find people in your industry or who specialize in the kind of roles you might need to fill in the future.

For example, if you know in the next 12-18 months your IT department will need a CIO to build a bigger team - look for CIOs who work in similar companies or have similar responsibilities to what you think you will need. 

There are many Slack groups that exist to help people build these relationships and learn from each other. You can search a list of Slack workspaces and join the ones that might be helpful for you. 

Join in the conversation and introduce yourself.

You don’t have to come right out with your pitch. This way, you’ll have the opportunity to see who in the group is bringing value and seems like a person you’d either like to get to know better or stay in touch with.  

2. Create a networking plan 

Now that you’ve identified some people who are interesting to you and leaders in your industry or their field, you want to figure out how to get to know these people better and position yourself as someone who they might want to work with in the future. 

You will want to create a plan to get to know people better and to allow them to get to know you and your work.

While you can “put it all out there” from the beginning, you want to think of this more like dating and spend time getting to know these prospects.

Unlike with recruiting this isn’t a process to get someone hired quickly or at the lowest cost-per-hire possible. 

After an initial conversation, you should periodically ask people you enjoyed talking to for their opinion on a company challenge or industry trend or send them an article or resource that you think they might enjoy. 

3. Find a way to stay in touch 

Think of this as a long game, you will need to stay in touch with potential candidates for months or even years before there is even a possibility of an open role that is a fit for them. 

Meeting at industry events or for lunch or coffee is a great way to do this if you’re attending in-person events. If not, setting up a phone call or Zoom/Skype meeting can also work just as well. 

You can use your CRM or another customer database to also keep track of the people on your bench.

Set a reminder to connect at a cadence that makes sense - for some people that might be an annual touch base and for others it might be as often as quarterly.

The main point of these reminders is not to create a rigid schedule but to help you maintain your relationships. 

When the role opens or if you are thinking about creating a role around one of these candidates, your prospective employee shouldn’t be too surprised.

If you’ve built a strong bench, you will see all of this hard work pay off as roles on your team will fill faster and retention rates will be higher since you’ve done all of the work on the front end to ensure that your candidates know your company and its culture and understand the needs of your business. 

Have open roles and need help legally hiring the best global talent? At Panther, we’re ready and eager to help with your compliance and onboarding needs. 

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