How to cultivate leaders within your company

Strong leadership is in demand, but hard to find, and leadership is lacking in many companies. It’s not unusual for brands to look outside the company for leaders to attract new talent. That can be a great approach, but you need outside employees to get up to speed on your business, and their lack of institutional knowledge can create an immediate rift between new leaders and their teams.

If you want to pick from the trash when it comes to hiring leaders, you need to create a strong pipeline that funnels young employees into management. Sure, this is a long-term approach, but cultivating talent within your own organization can help:

• Retain employees and maintain institutional knowledge in your company.

• Give employees a vision of their future with the company.

• Simplifies hiring because you can promote from within.

Cultivating leaders sounds simple, but it’s not always the case. So how do you build strong leaders in your organization? Follow these six tips to build an internal pipeline that produces strong, qualified leaders.

1. Point out potential leaders

It is important to develop leaders at all levels. Not everyone wants to be a manager, or has the skills to be a manager, so it’s important to record each employee’s leadership potential.

Create files with Human Resources and record the amazing work your employees do. You can also ask your management team to recommend employees for leadership positions. Since leadership largely requires soft skills, look for team players who take responsibility and get along with others.

2. Educate employees about your line of leadership

If you’ve decided to start promoting from the inside, tell your employees, and then start promoting from the inside. Employees want to know they have a future with your company, and if they see you promoting from within, they’re more than likely to stick around for the long haul. But you have to prove it with your actions: Don’t mislead employees with promises of a promotion that never materializes.

3. Offer training and development

Did you know that according to Gallup, only 10% of people are born leaders? Most managers need a lot of training, which is why companies that promote from within typically cultivate leaders through regular training.

But many companies do not offer leadership development. That’s why your business needs to intentionally invest in leadership training. That could mean:

• Provide SOPs and recorded video tutorials to help employees do their jobs well.

• Provide a monthly stipend for professional development.

• Payment of professional certifications.

• Carrying out training in the office during working hours.

4. Reward the best performers

According to research by OC Tanner (via NBC), seventy-nine percent of employees who quit their jobs say lack of recognition was a major factor in their decision. If he wants young employees to rise through the ranks to management, he must recognize their good work as a means of retaining them. That could mean rewarding the best through:

• Employee of the month awards.

• A congratulations system where employees can recognize each other.

• Weekly shoutouts.

• Bonus gifts such as promotional swag or additional PTO.

5. Set up tutoring

The more access junior employees have to senior managers, the more likely they are to have the support they need to grow in their careers. Instead of turning management away from new hires, try setting up a mentoring program.

By linking senior leaders with young employees, you can offer personalized mentoring and training opportunities that give young employees a taste of what it’s like to be a leader. It is also a great way to reinforce the professionalism of young employees.

6. Train employees regularly

If mentoring doesn’t make sense for your business, consider training your employees. But don’t treat coaching like a punishment: It should be a regular part of every employee one-on-one with their manager. Meet weekly to help employees learn:

• What they do well.

• Your strengths.

• What they can work on to become stronger.

Coaching also helps managers discover an employee’s career goals. If you know certain employees are excited to move into management, you can give them the support they crave to nurture their natural talents.

Cultivating strong leaders

Leadership is one of the hardest jobs in any business. If you’re trying to find leaders outside of your business, you know all too well how difficult it is to hire someone with the right focus, experience, and culture. Fortunately for you, you likely have many future leaders in your business right now. Strive to train and retain your employees. With the right approach, you can build a leadership pipeline that cultivates strong leaders for the long haul.

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