While you’re no doubt happy being the leader of your business right now, it’s important to continually look to the future and think about what your business may need in years to come, and how things will work if you need to take time off at some stage to raise a family or pursue other goals. Plus, of course, as your organization grows and you create new departments and even potentially expand into new markets, you will need to think about hiring leaders to manage diverse teams and areas for you.
It’s quite common for businesses to hire leaders externally when the need arises, and you may certainly have to do this at some point, but you will put yourself in a better position for success if you do some planning now and find ways to promote from within.
If you can train workers up so they’re ready to take over leadership positions when needed, you’ll save yourself time, money and stress, and you will ensure valuable knowledge stays in your company. To help you do this, read on for some tips you can follow to develop some of your current star employees into future leaders.
Invest in their growth
One of the most important steps is to invest in the growth of your team. The best leaders are those who continually learn, grow and build new skills, so by putting money and time into your top workers’ education and development, you will help them to succeed. They will feel valued and be more likely to stay working within your business.
There are many paths you can take to help your employees to grow. For example, arrange for guest speakers to come and talk to them throughout the year, give people time off to attend important industry events, set up exchanges with other companies and do training in-house.
One of the best options for developing star employees into future leaders is often to help them obtain post-graduate education. You might wonder how much does an MBA cost, or is another relevant business or management degree worth it? But these types of courses can set your workers up to be excellent leaders and introduce them to a raft of topics they’ll need to know.
Let employees experience different areas of the business
Another way to prepare your team members to be leaders is to move them around different parts of the business over the years. When people are rotated around, they learn how the organization operates as a whole. They can see the big picture and what does (and perhaps doesn’t) work in different departments and even potentially different locations.
By enabling your employees to rotate through a variety of job titles, they will get to chat with employees they might not have otherwise met, and they will understand all the different functions required to keep the venture going. They’ll have their eyes opened to some of the potential risks, problems and opportunities that lie ahead, too. This is all invaluable experience they will then bring to a leadership role in the future.
Challenge your staff members
Also look for other ways to keep challenging your staff members to get outside of their comfort zones as this is where significant growth can occur. After all, leaders must be adept at handling tough situations and even people, and they must handle thinking on their feet and working out how to manage tasks they’ve never had to tackle before.
Test your employees on and off throughout the year, so they get used to having to “swim” when they find themselves in the deep end. Doing this will help you to see which strengths they currently have (there might be more than you expected), and where they have deficiencies that some training or additional experience could help with.
Put mentorship programs in place
Mentoring is another thing that tends to help employees step up to leadership roles and be ready to face what comes. Put some mentoring programs in place within your organization to give employees a leg up. For example, place less experienced team members with senior staff members and top leaders for numerous weeks or months at a time to learn how to handle higher-level tasks and challenging situations.
Mentoring is also helpful in teaching junior employees about the types of personal traits those in leadership positions need to have. While being taken under the wing of some of your top team members, the employees you wish to eventually promote will hone skills like communication, time management, negotiation, conflict resolution, organization and problem-solving.