Preparing Your Leaders for the Future
Three keys to develop your workforce into tomorrow’s leaders.
By Stephen Shields
While there are many possible directions to go with a conversation about leadership, this article will focus on three areas. In this current employment climate of historic low unemployment in most areas of the country, businesses across all types of industries are scrambling to get all the “seats on their bus” filled – and keep them filled.
1. Hire with Intention
While urgency might be the name of the game so that you can continue to get products and services out the door to your customers, remember to hire with intention. There are many questions to keep in mind as you hire your next employee. What seat are you trying to fill? Is this a newly created position? Does it replace someone who left the organization? What are the key skills required? What might you want to change, add or delete from this position?
Then, as you look to bring on this next employee, does this person fit the skills and culture of your franchise? If certain skills are missing, are these trainable? When looking at the culture of your franchise system, does this candidate fit or are would you need to make changes to fit into the culture?
“The greatest asset in any organization is its people.”
Always be sure that while you need someone who has the skills required to do the job, you don’t want to make sacrifices and hire someone with skills who might be a culture “misfit.” Making a bad culture hiring decision can have very damaging and long-lasting effects on your organization. These are the most important reasons to be intentional in hiring.
2. Continually Develop Team Members
Once onboard, one of the lost often-overlooked practices by many employers is continual development of their team members. The day-to-day monotony of any business gets old and tiring and can often lead to employee burnout and ultimately departure from an organization.
As the leader, what are you doing to develop each person on your team and their skills on a weekly basis? One best practice is to ensure that each person on your team has his or her own development plan. Sit down with each employee on regular basis and discuss not only the things you think they should focus on, but also the skills the employee needs your help to develop. Schedule a weekly or twice-a-month meeting at a specific time with each employee who directly reports to you; it might be critical to helping that person have a long and productive career with your organization.
It’s essential to follow through and hold the meetings you set. If the leaders keep moving, canceling or changing the times of these meetings, it may send an unintended message to the team member that whatever you have going on is more important than the employee’s development. The greatest asset in any organization is its people!
3. Build Your Leadership Bench
As business owners and leaders, we go through a business life cycle. What are you doing to build your leadership bench? Do you have just one “star player” who it seems that everything in the business revolves around? While the amazing results can be exciting to watch, what happens when this person decides to move on to greener pastures? Are there other team members ready to step up who have been developed?
“A bad culture hiring decision can have very damaging and long-lasting effects on your organization.”
I have been in both a situation where the business seemed to revolve around maybe one or two star players and another one where there was more of a team atmosphere – a lot of people pulling together to achieve amazing results. It’s very interesting that while both may produce the desired end results, an atmosphere of a unified team of people, one that collaborates to produce results, is the model where more team members “shine.” It’s also the atmosphere where as a leader the business feels more secure and stable for the long term.
Succession planning is a topic for another day, but is an important one to address. Succession planning is building a leadership bench. It’s critical to any business because it gives team members a chance to grow and be promoted. It also gives the owner or leaders a chance to consider other things they might want to do with their time.
If you hire with intention, continually develop team members and build your leadership bench, you are building an organization that will be highly successful today, with the ability to stand the test of time through economic highs and lows.
Stephen Shields is a franchisee and developer with Express Employment Professionals. Learn more about Express Employment Professionals.