If I told you that your business was likely to struggle with leadership issues in the future, you’d probably assume I’m mistaken. Surely the next generation of leaders will take care of themselves? But with 60% of companies reporting a leadership shortage in 2012, the ‘I’m sure we’ll be fine’ attitude is a risky one for any business.
Very few businesses have a strategic plan to ensure they know who will be taking the reins when the current leaders step aside; and with the bottom line to think about, taking time to plan the talent development of tomorrow’s managers can seem like a luxury you can ill afford.
When budgets and time are tight, employers tend to spend less on developing talent within their company. However, cutting back on employee development is only cost effective in the short term. Looking further down the line, your business won’t be sustainable if the people within it aren’t capable of carrying out the roles they ought to fulfil in future. In the long run, you may find you don’t have the talent available to keep your company successful.
Studies show that high-performing companies tend to manage their talent more effectively than their lower-performing counterparts; so how do you make sure your company won’t find itself ill-equipped to face the future? Thankfully there are practical measures you can take to make sure your talent management programme fits your company’s future requirements. Tools such as Thomas International’s 360 are available to help you organise and add structure to what can be a confusing process.
Firstly, make sure you’re aware of the talent within your company. It’s much more efficient if you can fill leadership roles internally instead of looking outside for promising candidates. Developing the talent you already have can inspire loyalty among your current employees. They will feel encouraged to look within instead of outside the company for their next career move – helping you to reduce staff attrition and saving you money on recruitment costs.
To establish where the talent in your company lies, and which employees are worthy of development and potential promotion in time, think about which skills and competencies you need your leaders and managers to demonstrate. Identify the most important success factors for each role – are communication skills, an ability to manage junior members of staff or the ability to adapt well to change more important to the role than purely technical ability, perhaps?
Working out which competencies you want to encourage and hone is absolutely vital for an SME; as not only will it make you more focused and efficient, but it will also allow you to make informed decisions about where to invest your limited development resources.
Thomas International’s experience as one of the UK’s leading psychometric assessment companies, working with thousands of companies to organise and make the most of their talent management programmes, has shown us that most companies tend to fill leadership roles with candidates who match the technical skills of the previous leader. However, it may serve the business well to change tack and consider that technical skills aren’t necessarily the most important aspect of a leadership role. Take the time to develop a record of skills and leadership competencies specific to each role and you’ll be able to identify which members of staff could fill critical roles in the future.
If that all sounds a bit daunting and you’re not sure where to start, there are various tools available to you which can help you identify core skills and inject some objectivity to the process; instead of just developing the people you get on with on a day to day basis. A tool such as the Thomas 360 can provide information on specific competencies by gathering feedback from both the candidate you have in mind for leadership development and anonymous peers and managers to offer a complete picture of the individual. Using this kind of framework can:
- address sensitive issues in an objective manner,
- provide a useful basis for development work,
- open up a constructive two-way conversation between current and, potentially, future leaders
- and give managers insight into areas they can develop.
It does take time to develop a more disciplined approach to your talent management but all successful companies take a long term approach to thinking beyond their current top-level employees. A more structured framework, and the tools to operate it, will give you peace of mind that your business is in the best place to move confidently forward; and, in the long run, will be well worth the time you invest now.