How to Develop Your Employees into Your Company's Future Leaders
Talent is an organization’s most important asset. Investing in your employees and developing them into your organization’s future leaders is imperative to continue to mature the organization culture and carry out organization’s strategy.
The executive team needs to be asking themselves “Is our pipeline filled with sufficient talent? What are we doing to prepare the future leaders?” They also need to be constantly asking the questions since the expectations of essential leadership skill standards has risen. Senior leader positions have become more challenging, requiring a broader range of experience and competencies.
Today’s world requires the full capacity of the leader and his team to stay competitive and effective. Leaders need to be able to engage followers and employees and be able to analyze complex situations. They also have to be able to deal with change effectively. It is estimated that organizations will spend $1.7 trillion on digital transformation over the next two years. With this rapid growth comes change, and if leaders want their organizations to keep up within their industries, they must fully understand and excel at change management and train the future of the company to excel at change management as well.
“Leadership is very much related to change. As the pace of change accelerates, there is naturally a greater need for effective leadership". - John P. Kotter, Harvard Professor
How to Ensure Successful Leadership Development
1) Complement your annual performance reviews
Once-a-year reviews to evaluate your talent does not work. Biases are prevalent in annual reviews (check out our article about the most common workplace biases for more details). Providing guidance should be a frequent action that leaders undergo with every individuals on their team. Having real-time feedback conversations can ensure that all employees know what is expected of them, clarify expectations, allow for goal adaptation if needed, and also allows the employees to know what behaviors to work on and which behaviors to avoid.
2) Performance management assessment
Pen-and-paper or Google sheets can be options to document feedback conversations, but having a system that allows you to integrate feedback from other managers and team members (ie 360 degree feedback). This allows for managers to objectively identify weaknesses and strengths and is a great way to identify high potential leaders in addition to identifying the competencies and incompetencies of your employees.
3) Create in-house leadership development programs
Programs are a great way to evaluate and identify your high-potential leaders further down the path. There’s no right way to lead, so the off-the-shelf programs may not be relevant to the needs of your organization. Tailor a program that is specific to your company to ensure alignment with company’s values.
4) Be aware that mindset matters
Just because someone has leadership skills does not necessarily mean that they want to become a leader in the organization. Hence, it is important that leaders are able to evaluate someone’s investment in the company’s future. High potential leaders will express high interest in company goals. For example, does the employee proactively contribute good ideas and propose new strategies for improving the workplace or business strategy? While all employers should investing in the development of ALL their employees, they should also be able to recognize the high-potentials in the leadership pipeline.
5) Acknowledge your employees' work
Reward employees for jobs well done to encourage specific behaviors. Acknowledgment can also increase employee retention and increase employee motivation (check out our article on the 3 important benefits of employee recognition for more details). A simple 'thank-you' can go a long way in how an employee views their manager but also the company in general.
What programs do you have in place to identify the future leaders in your organization?