Setting Employees Up for Success

Don’t you love it when you find a golden employee? You know, one who is a hard worker and passionate about the job. You envision them going far. In recruiting, we love to see when one of our hires turns into a golden employee. It makes us feel like golden recruiters!

You want to do whatever you can to turn this golden employee into one of tomorrow’s leaders. Now would be a great time to get this employee into a succession plan, to primp and prepare him or her for future leadership. But wait! You may not have a succession plan because your company is still small. You may not have had the time to set one up, but you will! Forty-one percent of companies with succession plans are in the small to medium-size range.

You’ve probably heard about some of the benefits of succession plans. From a recent survey conducted by online HR technology reviewer, Software Advice, we learned that 62 percent of employees would be “significantly more engaged” in their work if their company offered a succession plan. The idea is even more appealing to younger workers, as 90 percent the 18-34 crowd said it would improve their engagement.

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Employers see the benefits clearly. In fact, 94 percent of companies that have implemented a succession program say their employees’ engagement level is positively impacted. And 81 percent of those companies used some sort of HR software to organize the succession process they created.

Still, there are things a small business can do to mirror a full-fledge succession plan. And doing these things can give your small business the same benefit that large companies get and give you a kickstart in getting your succession plan going:

First, HR and managers can work together to determine which of your employees would make great potential leaders. Even if it’s not a formal meeting to discuss it, your star employees’ names will come up at other meetings or even during performance reviews. Note it. If you don’t have time to do anything about it right away, store it for a later date.

Remember, it’s not just about who is the top salesperson or who has the most education or has been around the longest. You should consider factors like who works well with others, observed leadership traits and, frankly, if they want a leadership role down the line. Of course, experience and skills will weigh in pretty heavily.

Then take it on yourself to prepare the people who fit the bill by offering them the a mentor and training.

Giving employees a mentor is one of the best ways to develop future leaders. Let them observe current, great leaders—and often. It’s not a bad idea for the potential leaders to learn from the person he or she may replace eventually. Shadowing the mentor is a great way for the employee to observe what the leadership role entails, including the more stressful parts, and how to interact with others. When problems arise, the mentor can ask the employee how he would handle it, then discuss and teach.

Then train them. Involve them in making important decisions and other ways to plan into the future. If there are skills they’re lacking, arrange for them to get the training they need. Give the employees a chance to take a lead in a smaller function to test how they would do in a leadership position. You can even give them a chance to mentor new hires to see how they handle training others. All of these are great ways to see a glimpse into how employees would do in a leadership position.

Lastly, make sure to set goals with those employees. See how well they do in obtaining those goals. That’s a great way to predict how well they’ll handle the added responsibility of a leadership role.

Remember, it’s not just helping out your employees. You’re getting a lot more from those employees by giving them a purpose and a goal. You won’t lose them because they’re anxious to move up. They’ll learn that advancement means working toward a goal.