The current job market is so tight and competitive, why make it any more difficult to recruit and retain the right people for your company? Too many businesses focus on getting bodies into open positions, but neglect grooming new hires (as well as veteran employees) for positions of greater responsibility and leadership.
A focus on employee development, with a view towards turning great employees into outstanding leaders, not only benefits a business in the long run, it can serve as a highly attractive recruitment strategy for future new hires.
Here are tips on employee development that can yield strong new leadership for your company:
- Offer continuous feedback. An employee destined for a leadership role can benefit enormously from ongoing feedback. Explore different “feedback loop” options, from regular one-on-one meetings to in-depth quarterly sessions to discuss performance and objectives. Frame your feedback in ways that emphasize the value this employee brings to the organization, with constructive comments on how to fix what might not be working.
- Serve as a mentor or choose one within the company. Nothing contributes more to employee development than a well-structured mentorship process. Of course, not every CEO or business owner has time to devote to this responsibility, but another seasoned executive or supervisor might be perfect for the role. In addition to accelerating the employee’s learning curve, mentorship offers plenty of cross-training experiences, which again help build leadership skills.
- Instill a sense of commitment and authority. Empowering employees to make specific decisions about their jobs can go a long way towards leadership development. This signifies trust in their maturity and decision-making abilities. It also engenders a sense of “ownership” in where the business is headed, a giant step towards keeping that employee creative and engaged.
- Support networking activities. A budding leader should get to know as much as possible about all aspects of the organization. Towards that end, says talent management expert Andre Lavoie, encourage “networking within the workplace during lunch hours or at after-work events.” From there, support their networking efforts with industry representatives beyond your workplace walls. This teaches employees “how to forge powerful connections, initiate conversations with strangers and act with the confidence of a leader.”
- Formalize growth opportunities within the company. An employee who sees a bright future with your business is bound to get discouraged if he or she feels they’ve been passed over for a higher-level position. If you’re genuinely committed to employee development, let the entire workforce know that, as new positions open, your company’s policy is to first try and hire from within. Bringing a talented, experienced person up through the ranks, when he or she possesses hard-earned knowledge about how the business works and how best to serve the customers, can be another powerful weapon in your employee retention arsenal.
- Offer advanced work-related training. An employee being groomed for leadership will probably have certain “deficits” that need to be addressed, from soft skills like communications to more advanced knowledge of business operations. Providing financial assistance and other support for those employees to attend workshops, seminars or other training sessions can significantly boost his or her knowledge base—leading to a more confident, well-rounded individual.
Every business depends on ensuring that a new generation of leaders is built into the system. By actively promoting opportunities for employee development, both the individual and the business benefit—a win-win for everyone involved.
For free information on how to grow and motivate your team, we invite you to download our white paper, “How to Effectively Use Incentives to Motivate Your Employees.”