As businesses and organizations grow, so does the complexity of operations and management expertise require. Organizations can remain complacent about the hierarchy of the organization – latent talent has to be developed in order to have a succession plan ready.
In a 24×7 business environment, it makes good business sense to have potential leaders ready to act and respond to business challenges, if they are suddenly given a senior role and responsibility. Grooming future leaders for the organization is easier said than done – it is an arduous process, involving cross-functional interactions, role-play, job rotation, mentoring and coaching.
The management just cannot expect to have fully trained personnel ready to step into the role assigned to them – it begins with identifying the employees who have potential in a business with having private limited company registration or any other business structure. Then those employees have to be nurtured and trained for developing their potential. For business owners who have a slowly ageing workforce it is crucial to start talent development – the sooner the better. It needs time and resources to develop talent.
As people retire or move on, the business loses important knowledge. Even if you are pressed for time, it makes sense to devote time to train the team members who will lead your company in the future.
Identifying Potential Leaders
In every organization and business, there are employees who are proactive and reliable in their work. They step up to the plate and deliver, taking control when required – these are the potential leaders. It is easy to be biased because of the belief system that prevails – only the professionally educated make good leaders. This could not be further from the truth. If, for example, say a marketing executive Rajesh shows initiative, achieves his targets – but has only a basic degree. What can you do to develop him into a marketing department leader and maybe, one day, the marketing Director?
Start a Conversation
After having identified an employee who can be groomed into a leader, the next step is to have a conversation. It is important to start the conversation with Rajesh regarding why you see potential in him, for growing in the company. Get an idea about what he sees for himself. While some persons will be eager to learn new things and grow beyond their prescribed boundaries, others may need help to become aware of their own potential. Such persons could choose project management over people management.
Gathering all this information will help you to plan how to best leverage Rajesh’s capabilities and develop a growth plan that benefits him and the company. Ask questions about what the training program needs. Does Rajesh need more education and will the company help to pay for that? Which new projects and tasks do you plan for her that can help her to grow and contribute in new ways.
Grooming through experiential learning
One of the best ways to help growth is to give young leaders first-hand experience is different roles across the company. For example, a recent graduate Rupesh shows aptitude and intelligence, backed by a desire to move into a senior role. He will need to be rotated through different jobs to expose him to all the different aspects of the company, while stretching him beyond his comfort zone. Cross-functional training will help gain new perspectives – if he is an accounting guy, a spell in Marketing will help. If he is in HR, putting him in accounting or logistics can help.
This will help in gaining exposure and expertise besides an overall understanding of the company in a real-time environment. This is exactly what organizations need to do to grow. Explore cross-industry opportunity like what LegalWiz.in did with its partners’ portal; enabling users to redeem Syrow discount coupons to better their CX.
For international exposure, consider an overseas stint for him to help build his leadership skills and confidence. It is crucial to keep the conversation going – he needs to be told why he is being put in unfamiliar roles, what he is supposed to learn and the different personalities of the function he is moving to.
Applying both coaching and mentoring
Both coaching and mentoring play very important but slightly different roles in growing employees into leaders. Mentoring is done over a longer period of time, focussing on overall development of the individual for the future. Coaching concentrates on the short term, helping a person overcome a particular ongoing issue or challenge. Applied together, mentoring and coaching help to shape future leaders. Let’s consider Jayesh, a strong performer being groomed. If you are grooming him, just guide and redirect him in his work if required.
Step in with encouragement, guidance and responses to questions about the bigger picture. The frequency of your coaching can increase or decrease on the degree of familiarity Jayesh has with his ongoing profile.
Focus on soft skills too
It is important to focus on the mind-set of the future leader, while grooming them in their business skills. As they experience both failure and success, their confidence improves. Focus on the softer skills like communication, recovering from mistakes and interactions with a larger, more senior group of people – say, the board members. Here is where coaching will help – if a person has made a mistake, take them through the process again. Discuss what was done right and what could have been done better. Soft skills take as much practice as the other tangible skills.
For business leaders and organizations, nurturing and grooming talent should be ongoing process because this helps them to develop the next line of leadership. Sharing of the vision, company culture and future plans also helps prepare the next-gen leaders for the times to come. More importantly, they too may have ideas that can help to contribute to building the company further.