When you hire an employee you train that person to perform the job for which they were hired. If you made a good choice and you train the person well you’ll have a good, happy employee.
However, if you want to raise above just having “good” employees doing good work, just training them to do their job may not be enough. For the employee and the company to receive the most benefit from the relationship a great employer will teach and guide employees to rise above their current position.
Cultivating leadership skills in employees grows your company from within and helps with employee retention, especially with younger employees. According to a Deloitte Consulting survey “more than 67% of Millennials believe it is management’s job to provide accelerated development opportunities to encourage them to stay.” The development opportunities will help your employees feel invested in both their jobs as well as your company.
There are several ways to develop a leadership track to bring your employees to build these skills. The first and most natural method is to give your employees the opportunity to learn on the job. That may seem a no-brainer – doesn’t everyone learn on the job? Yes, but many companies do not take the time to plan training programs with measurable goals and accountability not only for the new employee but for the employee(s) responsible for conducting training. The most successful, consistent training programs are planned out in advance of hiring, rather than taking a “ride along” or “figure it out yourself” approach. Formal training programs also give veteran employees the opportunity to train incoming workers, and build their own leadership skills.
The second way to cultivate your employee into a leader is to empower them to make decisions. This can be a scary prospect, especially for owners of small businesses. However, when you demonstrate trust in your employee, and allow other employees to see that trust, you empower them to perform their tasks fully and build independent thinking skills, a key leadership trait. While your instinct may be to closely manage your employees, the best way to mentor them is to allow them to think critically through any issues or snags that may arise. Allow employees to make amends to customers when a mistake is made. Consider offering flexible work time where employees make their own work schedule based on “getting the job done” rather than clocking certain hours (in compliance with local labor laws of course). And give employees freedom to carry out a task from beginning to end without interference. Only step in if you see costly mistakes happening, so employees can learn valuable problem solving skills.
Another good method for teaching is providing education and outside training for your employees. Many local colleges offer non-degree continuing education classes in industry-specific and business management training programs. Industry Conferences and seminars can provide valuable information as well as opportunities for employees to build their own networks of industry contacts. You can even create your own summit or workshop for your employees. Let them attend courses or training programs during work hours, or compensate the employee if it’s outside of the workday. Check with your tax accountant for information on deducting employee education expenses that you provide as well.
Setting up a path for leadership for your employees will require significant planning and some expense. However, this time and money is well-invested in your employees and in the future of your company. Your company will have an advantage when home-grown managers already know your business inside and out. And if your company has well-developed training and leadership development programs you’ll be able to attract better talent at all levels of the company. If you’d like to talk about your rising stars, set up a time with us to discuss what steps to take and what training will bring out the best in your employees.