The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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Jason Corsello has one of the most effective illustrations of workforce depth that I’ve seen.

Every NFL team has a depth chart.  Most are listed on their team’s website including the New England Patriots here.

Every position on the team is critical and has a depth chart of at least three players plus a pool of reserve players in case of injury.

I’d argue however, that this illustration only works for succession positions, which is how I think Jason meant it.  In our succession plans, we fully expect to have a full understanding of skills, experience and competencies for all of our succession candidates, and an ability to evaluate each of these candidates against a role if that role were to become vacant.

However, for non-succession positions, this idea of bench strength is a bit different.  Rather than filling a role, I think we’re actually looking for an aggregated total of a given competency across an organization or project.  For example, we’re not looking for people to sit around with unused competencies waiting for a vacancy.  Rather, we’re looking for all of those competencies to be utilized all at the same time, and channeled through to the same effort.

We’ve become pretty good at identifying competencies for the workforce in general, and even better at it when we’re going through the succession process.  Unfortunately, we’re not actually all that good at valuations of competency levels across the entire organization in order to apply it on an org or project basis.  All too often we plug in holes with “filler” that might only help in a minor way, or even be a detriment to the overall project.  Much of this is because we think competencies exist where they don’t, or the competency has been incorrectly valued for an individual employee.

Bench strength is critical and as our talent organizations evolve, bench strength will have the ability to better advise the business on how to staff projects and how to target future talent acquisitions.  I’m looking forward to reading Jason’s future posts on this topic.

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