Growing Leaders for the Future

Steps to Target

Prioritizing leadership development on all levels within the organization will help grow knowledge and provide your employees with opportunities to advance, both of which are critical for your organization’s long-term success.  Managers should always be focusing on preparing the next generation of leaders who will play a vital role in future decision making.

Leadership development shouldn’t only focus on filling senior management roles.  Employees at all levels are required to problem solve, use initiative, and make decisions that affect the business.  It’s vital that they acquire and develop the relevant skills to contribute and add value.  Invest time in identifying your less experienced employees who show potential.  These employees are important for future growth, and they will appreciate your efforts to help them develop.

Most employees want to develop their skills, improve their knowledge, and feel challenged and happy with their work. When employees are stagnant, they eventually feel unmotivated. Taking the time to map out career plans for your staff is an investment in them and your organization.  Employees want to have a clear understanding on the paths available to them for advancement which could involve a more senior position or taking on additional responsibilities.  Career progression isn’t only upward movement but can also be a lateral move which may involve a change in compensation, knowledge, or skills.

You may be wondering where to start in your planning.  The first step is to review your organizational chart and determine the desired overall organizational structure. Take into consideration the company goals and plans for future growth. The skills and knowledge required should be shaped by your company’s short-term and long-term goals. This will affect how many leaders you will need and the skills and talents necessary for success.  The next step is to review your current pool of talent and identify your high potentials. Remember that some of your top talent might not want to move into a managerial role in their career and may want to learn and grow within their individual roles or move into a specialist role that doesn’t involve direct staff management. This is not a bad thing and if managers are regularly conducting performance discussions, they will be aware of the personal goals of their team members.

Once your organisation has determined its objectives then you can identify the required skills, knowledge and competencies required to successfully support these goals. As an example, if your business has a high number of employees nearing retirement, you will need to determine if your current employees have the skills or the desire to learn the required skills. You may also consider the need to hire additional leaders if there isn’t enough internal staff that can be promoted into these positions.

When evaluating your current employees, be sure to include them in the process by having them complete a self assessment of their skills and knowledge.  Don’t assume you know exactly what their development needs or interests are. By involving your employees in these discussions, you will ensure acknowledgment of their strengths and weaknesses as well as their buy in for future growth and development. You may also be able to identify inconsistencies or mismatches between their self view and that of their manager.   This evaluation should include a list of both soft and hard skills.  Be sure to include them in setting both short and long-term goals so they are clear about their development objectives.  If employees feel you are taking the time to identify their training needs and providing the resources and opportunities to learn, then you will likely have secured them for the long term.

Be mindful of personal interests of your employees who you feel have the potential to move into leadership roles. Some may be planning a family or having to look after an elderly family member and therefore they are not ready in the immediate future to take on additional responsibilities.

Here are some benefits of investing in employee learning and development:

  • When employees see your efforts in helping them with career progression it will likely boost employee retention.
  • Employees can develop a sense of loyalty for employers that are willing to invest in their learning and development.
  • Focusing on development plans and career progression will help your organization to effectively plan for succession.
  • Increased productivity when employees are involved in setting goals and are given new challenges and opportunities to learn.
  • Increased employee satisfaction and motivation to achieve set targets and goals.
  • Improved levels of trust and overall employee-management relationships as there will be frequent discussions around employee’s strengths and opportunity areas.

Key tips to grow your future leaders:

  • Select individuals that have a passion for mentoring others and those that can provide coaching and support learning.  This doesn’t mean the mentors have to be in a supervisory position.  Peer-to peer learning through observation and feedback can be very effective.
  • Research external courses and opportunities to support their learning. These efforts show that you are invested in a career path for them as well as opening the door for promotional opportunities.
  • Consider projects and assignments for employees so that there is continual learning and growth which will help them feel confident about your investment in their career plan.
  • It’s important for employees to experience opportunities to take on elements of a supervisory role.  As an example, this could involve an acting role when a manager takes vacation.
  • Provide opportunities where an employee can apply what they’ve learned and get feedback on their application of new skills.  This will help address any concerns and build their confidence.
  • Remember that technology can provide ample opportunities for self-directed learning and when a mentor is engaged for follow up conversations this maximizes retention.

Investing in employee growth will not only help to increase your employee’s skills and knowledge but will also improve employee morale and overall organizational performance.  Developing a strong successor is one of the greatest accomplishments for any manager. Managers in all levels of the organization should always have succession listed as one of their performance goals.  This will ensure their knowledge and expertise is transferred and will create a path for the manager to either move to a higher position or alternatively retire knowing there is a someone capable of successfully transitioning into their role.

Bridge Legal & HR solutions can help you with advice and support to effectively plan your succession and craft career progression plans for your future leaders. For more information contact (647) 794-5442 or at admin@bridgelegalhr.ca 

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