Succession Planning Starts Now!

Baby Boomer employees are inching closer and closer to retirement, but are the younger generations in your company ready to fill the upper level management positions they left vacant? If the answer is “not quite,” it’s time to make some changes. Instead of scrambling to find someone with the potential to be a leader at the last minute, plan ahead by focusing on your younger employees and working to develop them into the leaders you need to succeed in the future. How can you train your younger employees so they grow into seasoned leaders? Follow these tips:

 

GIVE THEM FACE-TO-FACE TIME.

How do you learn how to act like a leader? By watching one in action. Instead of separating employees so entry level workers don’t mix and mingle with the corner office executives, find ways to bring them together. For example, ask a senior level executive to host a breakfast or lunch once a month with a few employees chosen at random. This gives younger employees the chance to ask questions about what skills they need to succeed and how they can grow with the company. Giving younger employees access to a senior level executive is a great way to get them on the path to thinking like a leader.

PROVIDE CROSS TRAINING.

Companies often solely focus on training employees for the job they’ve been hired to do, but why not teach them about other positions within the company? The best leaders are those who have a diverse skillset and understand the function and importance of every department within a company. Encourage your younger employees to spend time training with someone in another department so they can learn about a different area of the business. Over time, these younger workers will not only be incredibly knowledgeable about the company, but they’ll be ready to lead it, too.

TEACH THEM THE IMPORTANCE OF NETWORKING

Leaders have to be skilled networkers in order to land new business, find new opportunities, and grow the company. But, this is one skill that can’t be taught at a university, so many younger employees are completely clueless as to how to network. Find local events relevant to your business and ask some of your younger employees to attend along with some of your senior level employees. This is a great opportunity for younger employees to shadow experienced networkers and learn how it’s done.

LAUNCH A MENTORING PROGRAM.

Does your company currently have a corporate mentoring program? If not, consider launching one to help your younger employees adjust to the company, learn new skills, and decide on a career path. There have been numerous reports on how younger employees want opportunities to mentor with more experienced co-workers in their office.

If you decide to set up this program, your younger employees aren’t the only ones who will benefit. Some companies pair Millennials and Baby Boomers together in a process called reverse mentoring so they can learn new ways of thinking from each other. It may be best to take this approach and frame your mentoring program as one that is beneficial to both parties so employees of all ages and skill levels are interested in participating.

RECOGNIZE THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

Even though younger employees probably do not have the same amount of responsibilities as other employees within the organization, you should still publicly recognize their accomplishments. Did an employee receive a complimentary letter from a satisfied client? Or, did a younger member of your staff stay late to help another co-worker meet a tight deadline? Make an effort to recognize their efforts in front of other co-workers so they feel valued and appreciated. This can go a long way when it comes to motivating employees to feel engaged with and connected to a company. In fact, 60% of best-in-class organizations believe employee recognition plays a very important role in driving performance.

HIRE FOR POTENTIAL AND CURRENT NEEDS.

As you begin to recruit for open positions, don’t just look for candidates who have the skillset you need right at this second. Instead, try to look for candidates who have a good mix of what you need right now and what you will probably need in the future. Remember, it’s easy to train employees who are lacking in certain areas if they are willing to learn, but it’s rare to find someone who strikes you as having a lot of potential. If you find someone like this, don’t brush him off just because his resume is a little short.

ALLOW THEM TO STRUGGLE.

If a younger employee has a question or runs into a problem, don’t just tell him the answer or solve the problem for him. Instead, ask questions and guide them in the right direction until they stumble upon the answer on their own. For example, ask them to brainstorm different ways the problem can be solved. Then, ask them to think about why each option they suggested may or may not work. Every manager in the company should take this approach to working with employees. This management style allows employees to strengthen their problem solving skills while also building their confidence as they realize they are capable of handling more than they thought.

GIVE THEM CONSTANT FEEDBACK.

Giving your employees feedback about their performance is a great way to help them understand where they need to improve in order to grow with the company. Managers often feel like feedback won’t be welcomed by younger, inexperienced employees, but that’s simply not the case. Younger employees crave feedback, but they are often too shy to ask for it. Encourage management to set up regular check-ins with lower level employees to discuss their performance in a very informal, non-threatening setting. They will appreciate the honesty, and will use the suggestions from these meetings to improve their performance in the future.

It may seem like a lot of work to invest so much into the younger workforce, but it will pay off as these inexperienced employees slowly transform into skilled, successful leaders
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