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Building Your Bench Strength

How CEOs and C-suite teams can hit it out of the park with talent

How are those 2022 Resolutions going? Did you promise yourself you’d beat your personal best in the bench press? Are you focused more on self-care or connecting with others? How about professionally, what targets did you set for your business and your team?

Among CEOs and senior executives, talent is the topic. There are so many unknowns to consider right now: the impacts of a changing labor market and new employee expectations, questions about how far wages will rise, shifting decisions about where we’ll even do our work.

At times like these, business leaders struggle to build their bench of talent and need every advantage. Here’s a suggestion that’s a homerun for retention and recruitment.

The Talent of Your Dreams

‘Build it and they will come.’ This iconic quote from the 1989 Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams, encapsulates much of my thinking on talent. Let’s break it down quickly:

Build It…

With talent gaps widening in a vast array of industries, from IT and health care to finance and manufacturing, many companies are discovering that they must identify and develop promising individuals from within their organization. No matter how capable, the recruitment team can’t always find the right skill set on the market or, if it’s available, the premium salary may outstrip the budget.

The good news, business leaders soon find that investing in professional development delivers more benefits than they initially expected. Not only do they readily fill key positions, they do so with individuals who already understand the company, fit the culture, and have undergone training sculpted to the needs of the organization.

As a result, the internally developed and promoted worker is often a better fit than the recruited one. Enticing career paths also pack motivational and retention punch, giving employees something to work toward so they give their all on the job.

Together, these advantages make professional development a powerful tool worthy of the time and effort it takes to get it right.

…And They Will Come

Growing businesses won’t be able to survive solely on internally developed employees. Voluntary turnover, retirements, new and specialized needs, or that manager who moves away because of a spouse’s job—for these and countless other reasons, companies must create a robust recruitment funnel.

Employer brand is vital here. Today, prospective hires follow companies on social media, sometimes long before looking at a specific opportunity. They also check out employee comments and satisfaction levels before pursuing or accepting a job.

A vibrant professional development program inspires good buzz. Many rising stars will share their positive impressions of a company that invested in them, helped them acquire new skills, and invited them to pursue an exciting, rewarding career. Those testimonials draw in other great candidates. Plus, higher volume and higher quality referrals also tend to follow.

In Other Words, Advancement

The phrase ‘opportunities for advancement’ may be tired but the need for such opportunities is stronger than ever. Advancement is the counterpoint to the stagnation many employees are suffering, a sense of ennui at the root of many Great Resignation quits. Advancement is also how companies can fill leadership roles with individuals who are well prepared, integrated within the organization, and ready to go.

Advancing Leaders is Vistage’s answer, a program designed to move experienced managers forward in their skills, abilities, and understanding of themselves and others. Advancing Leaders is about building that talent bench by:

  • Developing effective leaders who can collaborate cross-functionally to drive results

  • Equipping senior managers with the tools and confidence to initiate and execute change

  • Instilling effective thinking, communication, and collaboration to drive strategic initiatives

  • Preparing individuals to rise within the organization, uniting the goals of a motivated up-and-comer with those of the company

Stop Missing the Middle

Vistage’s Advancing Leaders is great for building the talent you need because it fills another type of ‘talent gap.’ As we’ve highlighted before, many companies attend to onboarding and training for frontline workers, and higher up the organizational chart, executive development efforts kick in. But in between, with mid-career employees and middle management, professional development is often lacking.

Is it any wonder that these employees—the ones not offered the means to improve themselves and add meaning to their work—are resigning at the highest rates?

We at Imprint Talent Readiness believe in Advancing Leaders as a standalone professional development program for pre-executives, as well as a beyond-the-industry complement to existing training and development efforts. We'd be happy to provide more information if you contact us here.

Whether or not Advancing Leaders is right for your organization, however, I encourage you to identify or create professional development opportunities for the “missing middle” at your company as soon as possible. Make 2022 the year that you build your bench strength, in the gym and the workplace.


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