Leadership Development Training: Building from Within
Small businesses may need to be creative when it comes to developing leaders. Even if your business lacks a formal leadership development training program, you can still follow some best practices to help build leaders from within.
Developing aspiring managers
Tione M. Torrens, Paychex HR consultant, shares these considerations for small business owners who want to help develop their existing talent:
- Career goals should be a regular part of ongoing conversations between managers and their team members. Employees who express an interest in management should work with their managers on a realistic career development plan.
- A comprehensive career development plan may include opportunities to meet and learn from other leaders in the organization. Also, consider building-in opportunities for employees to take the lead on small projects. Establishing regular communication during these projects to discuss struggles and successes can help build employees’ confidence.
- Mentoring is an important component that can add valuable perspective to learning. Employees should be paired with a mentor who they can meet with on a regular basis.
- In smaller organizations where career advancement may not be readily available, creating a sense of “leadership without a title” can help eager employees stay engaged and contribute at a higher level.
- At a management level, managers should consistently meet to discuss up-and-coming leaders within their organization. Such succession planning meetings can give managers the opportunity to discover talent that they may not work with on a regular basis.
Developing existing managers
Leadership development may be just as important for employees currently in managerial positions. Consider some best practices:
- Identify key positions in your business that are essential to the long-term operation of the organization. These are critical, difficult-to-fill roles in established areas of the business. Depending on the business it may be ideal for managers seeking executive level positions to “pass through” the key positions to gain exposure to all aspects of the organization.
A plant manager role, for example, might provide the opportunity for managers to be responsible for multiple functions as well as labor and community relations. Taking on this role may be part of a manager's career plan and leadership development training. This can help ensure your strongest managers get the experience they need before taking on more responsibilities.
- Make the steps transparent. Letting managers know how to achieve higher-level positions is not just about being honest. Your managers are often the best source of information about their own abilities, skills, and experiences. Once they know what is needed to reach a particular rung on the ladder, they can take the appropriate steps.
- Make succession planning flexible. Take time to refine and adjust your process based on feedback from management and participants. Changes in technology and business growth can impact the process as well. You may even want to look to other leading organizations in your industry to learn from and emulate their succession model.
Leadership development training is an important part of growing an organization. Taking the steps to build a solid leadership team from within is often a cost-effective and efficient means of helping to ensure your long-term success.