Building your talent pool - when and how to create new management and leadership roles

by Saba Software | Posted | Leadership

Building your talent pool - when and how to create new management and leadership roles

At a time when most companies are still trying to stay lean and mean, the idea of creating new management and leadership roles might seem a bit odd.

Aren't most organizations trying to avoid management bloat right now?

But there are lots of circumstances when it's important to expand your management representation. For example, the company is growing in size and needs more middle management positions to ensure employees are getting sufficient "care and feeding" from their managers. Another reason would be to ensure functional areas are being well managed.

Perhaps new products or service offerings require a manager to handle new responsibilities. You could have a current manager or leader leaving the organization, or your top young employees - especially young managers - are leaving in search of greater opportunities.

So how do you go about creating and filling new management and leadership roles?

Addressing the Millennial retention challenge

By now, your HR department is probably quite familiar with the "job hopping" Millennial trend. While a Class of 2012 study involving 8000 students across the U.S. found that 47% of students plan to stay with their first employer from five to ten years, the average Gen-Y worker actually clocks in closer to two years (whether this is by choice or not is another matter.)

And recent research reported in the Harvard Business Review says top young managers today are in a nonstop job hunt.

Concerning? Yes.

Fixable? Absolutely.

How? Proper succession planning.

Now wait a minute. I'm not talking about old school succession planning here. The kind aimed at identifying potential successors for key leadership roles. I'm talking best practice, talent pool-based succession planning.

Why? Because it puts a focus on providing high-potential employees with the training and development opportunities they're looking for, and leaving because they can't get.

This best-practices approach to succession planning develops top performing staff for all key areas in the organization, not just leadership roles.

I'm not saying you should create new management or leadership roles just to make younger employees happy. But if you want to retain them, you should invest in developing and preparing them for those roles so they'll be ready when the organizational need arises.

Clearly defining management/leadership roles and responsibilities

Once you've identified the need for a new management or leadership role, you're next step should be to clearly define the role and responsibilities of the position. It's amazing how many companies don't do this.

Don't be limited by the definitions for similar or existing roles. Start from scratch and really think:

  • What is the purpose of this new role?
  • What will the person be responsible for?
  • How will they fit in your current decision-making structure/hierarchy?
  • What knowledge/skills/experience/accreditation/education are required for success in this role?
  • Who will report to this person?
  • Etc.

A job description is a great way to capture all that detail. Only once you've clearly defined the role and responsibility for the position should you look to fill it. Otherwise, you could end up with the wrong person in the job.

What processes can facilitate the filling of these new roles?

  • Having an established talent pool of employees ready to step into a new management or leadership role
  • Structured management and leadership development programs
  • Proper employee performance appraisal tools to evaluate results and continue the development process

Building the talent pool

Being prepared for change is one of the most obvious but often neglected undertakings in many organizations. In today's business climate, organizations thrive or dive depending on how they handle critical transformations in their structure, services, business model etc.

Having the appropriate resources at your disposal is the first step to fostering positive change when bringing in new leadership. It requires contribution at all management levels. Meaning, this is not just an HR issue!

There should be a unanimous focus on building talent, tracking employee performance and identifying top candidates who are capable of handling more responsibilities.

You can accomplishe this objective by using a 360 degree feedback multirater system, which can aggregate feedback on performance from people at multiple levels of the organization. This approach provides insightful data about individuals based on an established set of performance measures (experience, knowledge, skills, or attitudes).

Check out this reference article for more information on effective 360 degree multirater implementation.

The goal is to have solid data that can help pinpoint the most promising employees. Once the high potential employees are identified, the next step is to groom them for advancement through developmental programs.

Deploying effective management and leadership development programs

Step one for creating a solid management and leadership training program is having an established competency model describing the key functions of the role, and the skills that lead to exemplary performance.

Next comes vision alignment. It's critical to have employees on-board with the company's vision, especially when retention is such a fundamental issue. To do this, your company should foster a common vision in your managers and leaders-to-be and weave it into their core role responsibilities.

Leadership consultant Liz Weber says, "When each department starts to understand and plan what it needs to do to help attain the vision, by default, they will need to address staffing, leadership, training, project management and other leadership development and planning issues.

You've now set the foundation to have HR work in tandem with every department to develop depth and 'bench strength' within, not only every department, but throughout the entire organization."

Living the company's vision helps managers and leaders promote and reinforce the vision with their staff and have it permeate day-to-day tasks and functions.

Finally, you should establish individual development plans to build on the employees' talents. This involves identifying areas for improvement that can be developed and tracked over time as well as offering suggested reading materials, courses they can take to develop their skills, and more.

HR and management can work together to determine the best way to help develop their departments' future leaders.

To ensure that objectives are being met, both the employee and their manager should have goals to meet throughout this process.

For instance, reward programs (like bonuses or vacation time upon completing objectives) can be offered to both parties to make sure that managers are as involved as the employees in the employees' growth and success.

Passing the torch & maintaining the flame

It's critical that executives and management work with HR on the on-going scouting and development of their top talents using a systematic process for developing management and leadership.

There are several advantages to this:

  • Having clear opportunities for growth helps increase employee retention.
  • Key candidates are given personal attention from top-level influencers.
  • More hiring from within. It pays to develop talent within the company, since they're already familiar with company operations, rules, norms and corporate culture.

Use your employee appraisal and assessment tools regularly to evaluate employee performance as well as the effectiveness of the management and leadership development programs.

The key is to make sure you have the proper support systems in place to support employee development and career progression.

Can leadership be taught?

There is only so much that assessments, training and coaching can do to help form strong managers and leaders. Ask most leaders how they learned to lead and they'll likely tell you it was through their own experience on the job. We learn by taking risks, making mistakes, and following our instinct.

So a good management and leadership development program should also supply opportunities for real experience and pair budding leaders with appropriate role models who can support them.

What strategies have you used to develop future managers and leaders at your organization? Did they work? Have advice for others? Share your story in the comments section below!

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