What makes great leaders? Have you identified potential up-and-comers within your organization that could one day lead your company? What happens five years down the line, when you’ve failed to prepare your top employees for the managerial and leadership roles crucial to your organization’s success? These, and many other questions, are what managers everywhere worry about constantly – and for good reason.
Leadership development should be an ongoing initiative at all levels of an organization, not just for senior level roles. You have brought these individuals into your company because you knew they would help it grow. So, by taking the time to invest in their professional development, you are instilling value and ownership in them. Let’s take a deeper look into how leadership development and strategic workforce planning go hand in hand.
Millennials today, on top of an innate desire for a well-respected, progressive company culture and competitive pay, are frequently looking for tangible growth within their roles. If the benefit of working for your company is not obvious to them, they will begin looking for a company that will provide just that. Being part of an organization they not only care about, but cares about them, is vital.
Step 1: Training
So, how do you, the HR leader, implement or revamp your current process? Start with the basics: Initial and continual training in key areas will make a great first step. Training should not end after onboarding; it should be offered in tandem with the employees’ growth, perhaps even serving as something of a motivator — only those who successfully complete certain training regimens are considered for promotion.
Step 2: Measure
Managers should always have a finger on the pulse of their employees’ progress, by making note and reporting to their leaders. Identify your high performers, who may be ready to be challenged even further. Assign a mentor-mentee relationship with these high performers – ideally within a specific area of the business in which they show progress or heightened interest.
Step 3: Considerations
Of course, there’s always the option to hire externally for the skills lacking within your organization and developing these candidates for leadership. This strategy should not be discounted, as it can provide immense benefits if done correctly. Another factor to consider: External hires tend to demand higher compensation, which can be negotiated when training and growth opportunities are also on the table. Obviously, internal hires won’t always be an option, especially during periods of high growth, but it is important to have both strategies operating in parallel: Developing leadership from within, as well as hiring externally to bring in important skill deficits and inclusive thinking to the organization.
Step 4: Gaining Buy-In
Another point of consideration: You must have buy-in from the executive suite. Review every quarter to ensure progress and make changes where necessary. Successful companies not only have buy-in from the executive level, but incorporate these leaders into the training process. WilsonHCG’s leaders are tremendous advocates of leadership development. Our executives take an active role in growing our organization's next generation of leadership by becoming mentors and conducting specialized leadership training programs.
Taking succession planning a step further, WilsonHCG has instituted a LEAD program, which stands for Leadership Exploration and Development. LEAD is a powerful experience designed to enhance leadership skills and connect a community of future leaders who are dedicated to working collaboratively for the purpose of growing the company. The goals of this program include: increasing self-awareness, contributing to the development of skills that support increased teamwork and productivity, and providing opportunities to explore the relationship between our people at all levels, regardless of title or department. The LEAD program is essential to the growth and connectivity of WilsonHCG, and through it, the executive team has ensured the success of our company for years to come.
No matter what you do, you must have multiple forms of leadership development in place to ensure you are reaching all levels of skills. Innovating your programs and training for different scenarios will be key to a strong workforce planning strategy.