A key part of business management that not enough people focus on is preparing employees for future leadership roles. After all, it’s much better for the company if you can promote from within, make use of all the great knowledge and experience that your workers already have, and make succession planning a simpler, smoother process. You must be able to boost retention rates, too, so that your top employees are engaged, loyal and committed to staying around for the long term.
Preparing people for roles they can tackle in the future works well on numerous fronts. Read on for some ways you can go about doing this effectively today and into the coming months and years.
Encourage Team Members to Move Around the Company
To begin with, it pays to encourage your top team members to move around the company over the years so they get the chance to work in different departments and divisions within the organization. This includes locations in different states and even countries, too.
By doing this, staff will have the opportunity to learn how to do various jobs, and they’ll see how different teams and offices function. They will get a big-picture understanding of the business as a whole and how the various departments interact (or don’t, as the case may be).
Once employees have had the chance to work in different areas, they will be better able to see where the business is at risk and where opportunities lie. They will be more likely to come up with innovative solutions for problems because they have digested diverse information from many different people. Working interstate or internationally will also enable staff members to learn about alternative markets, which will be helpful for them as leaders in the future.
Invest in Employee Education and Development
It’s also important to invest in the education and development of your key team members if you want them to be ready to become leaders in the near future. The more skilled and trained people are, the better they will be able to hit the ground running when they’re promoted.
To encourage this kind of development, give employees time away from their jobs to attend important industry and business events where they can learn and network. Make it possible for them to listen to top speakers on a regular basis and have the chance to take part in employee exchanges.
In addition, it pays to actually put money towards your top workers’ education. For example, consider paying for some or all of the fees involved in them completing undergraduate degrees in relevant topics or graduate programs online that will enable to specialize in a particular area or to learn about leadership and the running of a business.
Don’t Let Workers Rest on Their Laurels
If you want your best employees to be ready for future leadership roles, find ways to get them outside of their comfort zones. Don’t let them rest on their laurels; instead, keep challenging them to better themselves and to discover what they can achieve and handle under pressure. Testing people also allows you and them to note which skills or knowledge still need to be developed.
To challenge workers, get them to deal regularly with real and uncomfortable business situations, and ask them to spend time working on unfamiliar tasks. Take a step back yourself, so they have to work things out for themselves, and don’t bail them out at the first sign of trouble, or they won’t get used to thinking on their own.
Another helpful way to ensure employees keep growing and developing is to provide mentoring for them. This is most often done in-house, where people are paired with more experienced, senior staff members who show them the ropes and let them shadow them for a time on the job. Alternatively, though, you might decide to match your staff members with knowledgeable, proven mentors who have retired or who work for an outside firm.
Mentoring is beneficial for numerous reasons. Apart from giving employees the chance to learn from industry professionals, it also helps them to build up personal strengths which are required when in a leadership position. For instance, mentees can work with their mentors on things like communication styles, negotiation, problem-solving, time management, organization, conflict resolution and delegation.