One major job for HR is to make sure your company is developing the next generation of leaders. Why groom these future leaders? Retaining and developing top talent in-house is less expensive than hiring outside your company.
So how do you do it? Here are some tips.
One way to develop leaders, experts say, is to build internal programs to find and groom the next generation of leaders. These programs single out employees with sky-high potential and channel them through long-term programs that last several years. These initiatives can include mentorships, tailored management classes, one-on-one coaching and stretch assignments. The ultimate aim is to raise high-potential candidates above one single job function and provide them with a “big picture” view of the company.
One thing future leaders need is a level of knowledge about your company that stretches wide and runs deep. Those in your talent-grooming program should have a complete grasp of all areas of activity, from operations to management. A guaranteed way to help build this institutional knowledge is by putting participants in different roles throughout the company, giving them valuable first-hand experience. Participants will be exposed to different sections of the company and build expertise.
Throw your participants a curve ball. Put them in jobs that fall outside of their comfort zone. These assignments provide ample room for participants to grow. Placing them in unfamiliar roles will make them push beyond the skill level they’re used to.
But unfamiliar jobs also come with the risk of failure. However, even if the participant comes up short, they will still take away valuable lessons, bolster their skills and add to their confidence, all while making them more committed as employees.
The classic mentoring program pairs participants with senior employees. A twist on this involves matching potential leaders with mentors at outside companies.
It’s important to make sure clear guidelines are in place. Make sure these new partners know just where, when and how often they will be meeting. Also, they should both know how to contact each other outside routine meeting times. And before the new pair starts to get to work on specific problems, they should first get to know each other personally and establish a rapport.
As you throw new challenges at your potential future leaders, make sure you’re also giving them proper feedback and support in their assignments. Frequent evaluations will weed out problems and help you tackle them before it’s too late.
When older workers retire, they take valuable institutional knowledge of the company with them. Capture this knowledge by setting up veterans in mentoring programs. Also, consider bringing retired veterans back in some capacity, such as contracting and part-time arrangements, to make sure their know-how is still available.
Not everyone in a leadership program is going to make it. Let those who aren’t up to snuff drop out, though make sure the program doesn’t run out of participants. Choosing participants shouldn’t be a one-off event; make it an ongoing process and roll in new participants as the program moves along.
How do you develop future leaders in your company?