Employee development is an essential responsibility for employers. There’s not really such thing as having employees who are too prepared to be leaders, but it can be frustrating and costly for employers to promote someone into a leadership position, only to find out later that the employee was not prepared to be put into that role. Successful employers begin to instill leadership skills into their employees even before any open leadership positions are on the horizon. This type of succession planning ensures that the employee to leader transition goes as smoothly as possible.
An excellent employee doesn’t always make for an equally excellent leader. It requires a slightly different approach and skill set to lead others than it does to perform at the employee level. However, when regular employees are given the opportunity to develop their management skills, they tend to make more informed decisions, are better at peer-to-peer coaching, and are more equipped to jump into future leadership opportunities that may arise.
Here are seven ways employers can help turn their employees into leaders:
1. Encourage problem-solving among employees.
When employees have an issue with something they are working on, they usually bring that problem to someone higher-up. Most good employees have the ability to solve their own work problems, but lack confidence, or are unsure if they are qualified to make certain decisions. Encourage employees to come up with a few proposed solutions, either on their own or with their peers, before they turn to a higher-up for help. Not only does this help build confidence and strengthen skills, it also allows the current leadership staff more time to focus on other, more important tasks.
2. Use staff meetings to build skills and identify potential leaders.
Change the structure of staff meetings from non-engaging activities such as self-reporting of performance or reviewing numbers, to something more meaningful such a collaborative discussion and group goal-setting. Organizing employees into small groups as part of the meeting-related activities can help employers identify natural leaders, as well.
3. Offer more than just work or industry-related training.
Employees can benefit from soft skills such as effective listening, empathy, negotiation, and verbal and non-verbal communication. Soft skills are akin to people skills, and are great leadership attributes. Offering employees the opportunity for soft skills training can help better prepare them to move up into a leadership position.
4. Implement a mentor program.
A great way to develop employees into leaders is by pairing them up with other great leaders so they can learn by example. Mentorship is a key part of succession planning and is most effective when done well before a leadership position becomes available.
5. Enhance your reward system.
A good reward system should offer recognition and appreciation for outstanding work. However, employees who are consistently outperforming their peers should also be offered more challenge and responsibility as a reward. Challenging employees allows them to continue growing and developing better skills that will suit them when moving up within the company.
6. Identify skills gaps within your company.
Knowing in advance which skills the employees and leaders in your organization need to develop more of is essential to ensure they are prepared to grow with the company in the future. Regularly perform skills gap analyses, for both individuals and as a team/company and track the results to identify the most crucial needs.
7. Create performance and development plans for employees.
Performance and development plans are not just for poorly-performing employees. Work with all employees to create plans that incorporate their goals and offer responsibilities that will help them to meet those goals.
Using these seven strategies, employers can reap the benefits of having employees who are more than just workers who are hired to complete day to day tasks, but are rather critical thinkers, problem solvers and emerging leaders.
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NOTICE: Emplicity provides HR advice and recommendations. Information provided by Emplicity is not intended as a substitute for employment law counsel. At no time will Emplicity have the authority or right to make decisions on behalf of their clients.