Are You “Seated on the Bench?”

Author: James Western

When each of us accept employment with an organization, we usually feel a sense of excitement, relief, determination and appreciation. We are now a player on this organization’s team, and we will do our best to prove to them they made a good hiring decision. Our intentions are to give them 100% ad infinitum as we believe we are capable and willing to do so. Fast forward a few years. . . Given your current situation with your employer, do you still feel that way? How long did those original feelings you had when you were on boarded manifest themselves in level of output you delivered to this organization? To that end, would you say that there is a correlation between the performance you deliver and the effort you provide? Don’t we all want to be a player on the field, not a player seated on the bench!

Think of the time you participated in athletics or some other team-based activity as a youth or adult. Your desire was most likely to be a starter or the player selected to compete for the team, whether this was for basketball, soccer, gymnastics or lacrosse. You manifested your talent during practice and performed well enough in the games to solidify your position as the selected, starting player. The only way you were able to continue in that capacity (assuming multiple players could compete for your position), was to push yourself hard enough to not only accomplish what was required for your position, but to also improve your skills to increase your performance. This is what gave you the competitive edge over the second and third string players who were seated on the bench.

Unfortunately in the business world, despite often being externally educated by universities, colleges, vocational schools or specialized training entities in order to qualify as a player for an organization (franchise), that is not sufficient to ensure we are capable of performing well enough to be a starting player. If our previous experience as a player for a different franchise was successful as validated by our previous manager (coach), and our education was relevant for the role (position), then we are more qualified to be a starter. However, what happens after we are on boarded? Well, many of us go through some internal training and mentoring, but then we are left on our own to perform the best we can as a starting player. Yes, there is some governance from our manager, but ultimately, the ability to “stay off the bench” and deliver the results as a starting player requires that we do things similar to what a first-string athlete does. She practices over and over again to increase her skills, to improve her levels of performance and to outshine the competition. Do we take the time on a regular basis as a player within our franchise to practice and improve our skills such that we are performing well enough to be a starting player versus being on the bench relative to our peers and competitive franchises?

This is one of the gravest mistakes we make as players of franchises across the world. After we are on boarded and secure our positions, we push hard to earn the right to be a starting player, yet over time we stop pushing ourselves to improve through practicing (training, mentoring, role playing, research et al). We become comfortable where we are given that we are performing well enough to maintain our job. Thus, we have effectively taken a seat on the bench.

Well, stand up and get off the bench! The only way for you to continue to be productive and deliver the intended results such that you merit the right to be a starter is to regain the commitment that you once had when you were first on boarded. Consider how hard you tried, how much you wanted to learn, how willing you were for guidance and direction and how open you were to feedback. This is exactly what each player needs to do for their franchise. Don’t presume your starting position will last forever as you may lose your affiliation with the franchise. More importantly your level of engagement will go down significantly if you aren’t giving your all to stay off the bench. The top performers and those with the highest level of engagement for sport franchises are those who have earned the right to be starters. As such they spend very little time on the bench. We all need to mirror that approach!

Bryan Ritchie and James Western are co-founders of GrowthSPORT, a successful consulting company whose mission is to improve SCORES (Stimulate Culture, Optimize Results and Engage Staff) for Teams, Divisions, Departments and Organizations through the SPORT model (Strategic Alignment, Personnel Performance, Operational Execution, Results Accountability and Team Strength), which are the Five Core Elements of Success.

GrowthSPORT provides resources, tools and experienced consultants to effectively implement the SPORT performance model from companies ranging from Startups to Fortune 500 companies.

Feel free to reach out to GrowthSPORT at (801) 676-2500 or at


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