When it comes to leadership development (and the dollars made available for it), the focus is often on the company's future executives. This makes sense. But if there is no equivalent form of development investment made in an organization's frontline managers, there's some flawed logic at work.
To explore this, we spoke with Anita Bowness, a Halogen Solutions Consultant with 20 years' experience in consulting and professional services. Anita draws upon her prior HR and consulting experience in the areas of recruitment, onboarding, performance management, learning and development, succession planning, organizational development, competency mapping and change management, to help Halogen clients achieve strategic results.
We asked Anita to answer some key questions on leadership development programs. Here's what she had to say.
When companies invest in leadership development, what level of employee is generally considered a "leader"?
Anita: What I see most often is director-level and above being hand-picked for leadership development programs. But the frontline manager, who tends to interface with employees and customers more often than an executive does, really should receive development opportunities too. In fact, I think it's particularly smart when organizations go even one step further and extend their leadership development opportunities to high-potential individual contributors. Companies that do this build out their next crop of front line leaders.
So, frontline managers don't tend to receive priority focus. So what?
Anita: It can really make or break an organization's performance. For example, Harvard Business Review surveyed more than 600 senior-level managers and executives from companies around the globe and the results clearly indicate the importance of frontline managers for achieving a high-level of customer satisfaction, reaching business goals, and achieving high levels of productivity. And yet, frontline managers aren't getting the training and development they need to really perform at their highest potential.
What kind of development do managers need most?
Anita: Naturally, each individual has their own strengths and weaknesses. But, most often, the data tells us that managers need to develop their coaching and mentoring skills more than anything else. This is the skill their employees are looking for in their leadership and, without it, you risk being able to retain your workforce. Particularly millennial employees - this demographic expects regular, frequent coaching and mentoring conversations.
What role does development play in succession planning?
Anita: Development is a key element in any well-executed succession plan. Ideally, a succession plan will include four elements: (1) identification of what leadership looks like in your organization, (2) an assessment of the current talent to determine leadership skill gaps, (3) development plans to close these gaps, and last but not least (4) actively managing and tracking the progress of your plan.
Learn more in this free webinar
Do you want to learn more about the importance of developing leaders across the whole organization and how to use talent management to do it? Join us for our free webinar, Developing Leaders Beyond the Boardroom on November 12th, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. EST. Reserve your spot today!