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As a leader of a business, you’re going to be consistently focused on ways to get the most out of your team and encourage them to be as productive and effective as possible.
However, don’t forget that you’re going to want to be able to delegate more and more responsibilities over time, too, and you may even want to be able to step back from the everyday running of the organization.
As such, it’s wise to start thinking about who on your staff might be able to take on more responsibility later, and then start grooming them to do so. Read on for some keys to turning your current employees into the future leaders of your venture who can take the business forward.
Let Workers Try Different Areas of the Business
Start by giving your staff the chance to try out different departments, locations, and jobs within your organization. Rotations like this provide employees with the opportunity to really learn how things work on a higher level and gain insights and knowledge that they’ll need to be future leaders. They’ll get a good idea of what currently works in the business and where things can prove more challenging.
Spending some time in various roles enables workers to get to know other team members they otherwise may not have met. They can learn from these people and understand the many functions that keep the business operating.
Provide People with Structured Mentoring
It’s also vital to provide structured mentoring to the people you’re grooming for future leadership positions. This support will help them step up and be ready to face the more demanding times as managers.
Let workers shadow experienced team members to see how they do things or arrange for employees to meet with senior staff and top leaders each week for a few months to go over set, pre-determined topics and work on improving skills and knowledge.
It’s not about just understanding the business and the industry and the jobs involved in it, either. Leaders need to have a variety of solid interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence to thrive, all of which can be developed through mentoring. For example, people can learn how to better problem-solve, innovate, negotiate, resolve conflicts, delegate, manage time, communicate, and have confidence.
Give Helpful Feedback Often
While you want to support your targeted future leaders and compliment them to help them feel engaged, inspired, motivated, and committed, you also need to push them out of their comfort zones so they keep learning and developing. Another way to do this is to provide regular feedback about what they could continue to work on.
A vital part of comprehensive performance management is letting people in on their shortcomings and encouraging them to do better. Anyone who isn’t accepting of the need to keep growing isn’t going to make a solid leader, so you may as well weed them out this way.
Ensure you conduct annual performance reviews and have more frequent meetings (quarterly or more often) to set goals for the coming weeks or months and discuss mistakes made and what was learned from them.
Take note in between these conversations of things that employees could improve upon. You need to provide specific examples and give clear insights into why you think an area still needs work and how you would have done things differently yourself.
Invest in Training
Specific training programs are useful at grooming future leaders, too. Put money and time into your workers’ education and their self-development so they can eventually bring what they learn to the table as leaders. This investment also helps people feel seen and valued, making them more likely to keep working for the business while they wait for a leadership role.
Consider organizing numerous learning opportunities for your staff. For instance, pay for people to go and get a degree at university or at least complete some short courses. Post-graduate education, in particular, is common for personnel to engage in with a plan to move into a leadership role later.
You can give people some time off to attend industry events where they’ll gain many excellent insights or give people access to in-house training to learn specifically about new or evolving technologies, management structures, and other factors. You might also set up employee exchanges with other businesses or arrange for qualified speakers to come into the organization and talk about their experiences.
Remember to lead by example, no matter which of the above elements you implement in your business. Demonstrate how you like things to be done and explain your decisions where possible so that up-and-comers can learn the logic you use and file that knowledge away for a later date. It takes time to turn people into the right leaders but the sooner you start, the better.