In The Talent Garden – Bench Strength

We had a rough winter here last year. By Atlanta standards anyway. There was one week in particular with ice and snow well beyond the amount we are prepared to deal with. Here in my moderately hilly neighborhood, that meant treacherous driving conditions combined with inexperienced winter drivers.

One road leads up to a well-traveled street. And by up I mean there is a gradual vertical rise that doesn’t look too bad, until you substantially reduce the friction that our tires are designed to work with. Cars had very little control in this area, and anything close to the edges of the road was in danger.

One of my neighbors uses a hedge to make his front yard more private. My guess is that the hedge is 10-15 years old. It is well-maintained, and the individual plantings have grown well together to make an attractive green wall at the curb. Like a team of children playing Red Rover, the plants stand together as a visual barrier acting as a strong single unit.

They were no match for the out of control vehicle that crossed the curb and broke through the hedge. It took out several mature plants and left a big opening in the previous green continuum of protection.

bench strength, replacements
Can you tell where the damage was?

The succession plan didn’t allow for replacing the failed plants with those of similar age and experience. Part of the effectiveness comes from the plants growing together through the years. When spring came, he found suitable though less capable replacements, and in time they will grow to match the rest of the line and the hedge will return to full strength.

Succession plans aren’t important for your landscape. But they are likely critical for your business. When an employee or two leaves, you can hire replacements, set them beside experience players and help the team become whole again. But when something major strikes and several people leave at once – a new business comes to town and they want exactly the kind of talent you have carefully built – you need a plan. Do you have one? Are you building a bench, or does your planning assume the team stays whole and healthy?


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