If you want to retain and get the most out of your top people, you have to invest in them. That’s why an effective training and development plan is a fundamental consideration for leading companies in today’s business environment. Organizations that have long-established programs to help employees develop their skills and that work to maintain and nurture a diverse and highly-talented workforce have a proven track record of business success and profitability over an extended period of time.
Top companies breed top talent.
Some of the world’s most successful companies have even taken employee development to another level by focusing their efforts on cultivating future leaders. This approach requires serious time and monetary investments – a commitment some companies are unwilling or unable to make. Though corporations spend billions of dollars annually on management training and education, many focus on short-term results and production, rather than developing a long-term vision. But a company’s ability to build and develop leaders can make the difference between being good and being great.
For example, General Electric is renowned for actively developing a deep bench of leadership and management talent. In fact, more former GE executives have become CEOs at other American corporations than those from any other company!
Many other Fortune 500 companies have a long and successful track record for developing leadership from within as well. McKinsey & Co., Procter & Gamble and Microsoft not only hire and retain ‘A’ level talent, they are also committed to their leadership development programs and promoting from within. This approach engenders loyalty and commitment and breeds a culture of success at all levels.
Leadership development: not just for executives.
While producing C-Level talent is certainly commendable, the goal of corporate leadership development isn’t just about grooming a company’s next CEO. Ultimately, an organization is only as good as the talent it has – throughout all levels of a company. Therefore, it is critical for businesses to continually develop their entire workforce and establish an environment where employees are engaged in their work.
A number of top companies offer special career development programs for top undergrads and MBAs to rotate throughout the company. This provides them the opportunity to work on a variety of assignments, giving them greater exposure to all aspects of the business and widening their knowledge of different operations and processes. Ultimately, the goal is to deepen and accelerate the employees’ career growth, engage them in the business, and mold them into a high-performing and highly-successful manager within the organization.
Leading healthcare manufacturer Johnson & Johnson has a renowned leadership development program where a handful of top graduates each year join an accelerated, two-year program of work and classroom study, rotating throughout different functional areas of the organization’s companies and divisions. Through this intensive program the understudies gain technical and leadership skills that will be required in their future years with the company. It also provides them with incentive to commit to the organization long term and become a valuable contributor to the firm’s growth and success.
Instituting your company’s program.
First, before you do anything, sit down and take some time to analyze your current staffing situation. Forecast to the best of your ability, future sales growth and organizational expansion. Then, determine how your company plans on meeting its critical business objectives – having the right talent in place will be a driving factor in helping you realize these goals.
Then ask yourself: is our company committing enough time and resources to keeping our best people engaged and moving forward, or are they looking to move on? Meet with HR and other department heads to determine how a leadership development program can be implemented for your organization. Decide what other programs can be instituted to retain your top performers and to grow future leaders from within. Here are some tactics you and your fellow managers can consider when it’s time to put your program into action:
Develop for tomorrow – start planning today.
- Identify Career ‘Fast-Trackers’ – Take note of the people in your company who stand out from the rest. Who has shown strong determination, a better-than-average ability to think strategically, and the capacity to develop sound business strategies?
- Provide Mentoring & Training – Do this for your current top performers as well as individuals who have great potential. Offer unique training and skill-development programs to show them that you have a vested interest in seeing them grow as employees.
- See How They Perform – Give your best people new and challenging projects, increase their responsibility, and involve them in key initiatives and projects. These are great ways to see how well your future leaders perform under added pressure and responsibility. It will also let you gauge in what areas they may need additional training and how hard you can push them to deliver great results.
- Get to Know Their Goals and Let Them Know Yours – Hold quarterly personal meetings with each of your ‘fast-trackers.’ Give them feedback on how they have been performing, how you envision their role expanding and growing, and where they should be in the next 12 months. Listen to their needs, concerns and objectives and work together to ensure you’re both satisfied with the direction in which you’re moving.
With the labor market tightening and the U.S. workforce anticipated to lose millions more workers than it replaces over the next decade and beyond, talent retention and leadership development will become a critical issue for companies that want to compete for the best human capital. The time is now to take a closer look at your company’s approach.