Posted by Robert Half on 19 January 2016
Your current business leaders won’t be around forever. Experienced leaders are hard to come by and with regulators focusing more and more on individual accountability it’s no wonder that many middle managers feel anxious about moving further up the corporate ladder into senior leadership, management or CEO roles.
Of course, rather than looking outside of your company for your future leaders, it makes financial and business sense to instead cultivate the talent you already have. But do you have the right leadership approaches and structures in place to encourage your future leaders to succeed within your company?
Ultimately, fostering your future leaders is all about providing the right kind of support. Putting in place the necessary structures to allow a smooth transition from employee to business leader requires dedicated investment in recruitment, retention and HR while incorporating complimenting formal and informal approaches.
The formal: mentoring schemes and leadership programmes
Does your businesses leadership approaches notice employees that show promise? Partnering them up with business leaders is a great way to prime them for leadership and should be a part of your succession plan. Mentoring schemes can take many different formats and can be relatively informal, especially in smaller businesses. Although longer term schemes will have greater traction, a mentoring scheme could be as simple as a “manager for a day” shadowing programme.
Simply being recognised as a potential future leader is sometimes enough to motivate employees and the mentor-mentee relationship will often drive itself. However, the most successful mentoring schemes are properly designed in advance, with a set structure, guided by HR direction and include appropriate success measures.
Mentorship schemes that adopt the traditional and reverse mentoring approach can provide learning and development opportunities not just for the mentee but for the mentor too – both usually have lots to learn from each other, allowing senior leaders an insight into the “on the ground” business, whilst giving the mentee an insight into leadership.
More formal leadership training programmes that lead on from or compliment mentor schemes will also help your business to build stronger, more capable leaders. Training courses or “fast-track to leadership” programmes can be created in-house or outsourced, but designing a training programme specific to your business and its unique challenges will always be the most valuable investment.
The informal: soft support
Formal programmes and training have their place in helping to ensure your future leaders understand the systems, processes and techniques needed to lead, but according to some experts you don’t train leaders, you develop them.
No leadership programme would therefore be complete without appropriate professional development structures and the soft support that ensures future leaders feel inspired, supported and confident to innovate. This includes access to resources and education – networking opportunities and conferences for example, that will help to grow and develop your most promising employees within your company.
Time to invest in a succession plan
Now is the time to Invest in leadership approaches that are committed to increasing employee satisfaction and retention as It will secure the future success and help towards your business having a succession plan in place. Get your leadership funnelling wrong and your employees will take their talent where they think there is a brighter future for them – often to your competitors.