31266744_sThe best managers pay attention to the employees who report to them according to Google. Project Oxygen was developed in 2009 to answer the question “Do managers matter?” and research key management behaviors. They studied their managers, good, bad, and great, and found that great managers are most effective by coaching and actively listening to and communicating with employees, regularly meeting with them one-on-one, sharing information with them and letting them help develop team vision, and helping them with their career development by giving them assignments and opportunities to learn and grow.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that surveys like Jumpstart-HR’s 2012 “Study: U.S. Job Seekers Want Growth, Professional Development” show that candidates overwhelmingly want opportunities for growth and career development. This is not just a job seeker issue. It is also a business issue because of market and demographic forces in the working world and job marketplace including Baby Boomer retirement and a mismatch between traditional corporate leadership and millennial candidates’ impression of leadership. That makes it imperative for businesses today to do more to develop employees into leaders according to CIO.com’s Sharon Florentine.

 

What’s the Big Deal About Leadership?

Florentine discusses what those like WorkplaceTrends.com founder Dan Schwabel are saying about Boomer talent leaving the workforce, millennials entering the workforce, the need for corporate leadership, and what business should be doing about it all. With millennials rapidly replacing the quickly retiring Boomers, Florentine strongly advises focusing on cultural fit, professional development, and succession planning to be prepared for the looming leadership gap.

Because today’s employees are not working from graduation to retirement for the same employer as previous generations did, the employer/employee contract has changed dramatically. Employees are no longer able to learn and grow with one company over the span of their careers, providing a homegrown leadership pool. Employers now have to change their talent management practices, including using the newest technology for talent acquisition, creating a magnetic culture, and providing career development to retain employees and prepare them for leadership roles. Companies who aren’t doing this now will soon have a succession crisis to deal with.

 

Are You Developing Leaders?

Google’s highly popular company culture is not an accident, and neither is their focus since 2009 on improving management. Google knows how to engage the high performing employees needed to innovate and grow the company, and that includes employee development. Talent alignment platform ClearCompany founder Andre Lavoie understands it too. He mentions Gallup’s “2015 State of the American Manager” study that shows employee engagement is driven by engaged leadership. Engaged leaders are more effective at developing employees into leaders to succeed them.

He explains that to turn employees into leaders, good managers have to work hard to prepare them, including showing them how to network, acting as a mentor or implementing mentorship programs, providing growth opportunities, maintaining continuous communication, and modeling good leadership skills including professionalism, confidence, transparency, commitment, and respect.

Teaching professional networking skills is important to developing leaders, giving them confidence and showing them how to create the important connections they’ll need to direct business operations and understand the industry their business is in. Mentoring employees with formal mentoring relationships and cross-training gives them the support and motivation to take on expanded roles. Providing opportunities for growth by paying for continuing education, sending them to professional development events, and investing in their development prepares them for leadership roles. Giving time and attention to employees on an individual basis to discuss their goals and performance, create personalized development plans, and give them meaningful opportunities to give feedback lets them know they are valued and teaches and models the kind of communication expected from good leaders.

Is your company just managing employees, or is it actively developing employees into the leaders it will need in the next five to ten years? If there are excuses about no budget for things like paying for school or fancy perks, take a look at Great Place to Work’s list of Best Small Workplaces. Compare your company culture to some of the companies on the list. Do you think you’ll have the leadership you need in five years? If you aren’t doing anything to attract and develop leadership, who will be there to develop corporate strategy, define the company’s vision, and build the company culture that attracts the best candidates?

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