How to prepare future leaders for your business

As your small business expands and time wears on, you’ll need help with management and general leadership. When your company becomes too large to be overseen by one person, you need to have great staff members who you can take the reins and handle new responsibilities. Bringing in established workers can be problematic because they don’t understand your internal structure or procedures. The best way to ensure that your small business can thrive in the future is by grooming future leaders right now.

You can’t expect your current employees to become great supervisors overnight. After all, it takes time to learn the ins and outs of a new position, especially when the role requires someone to be responsible for a department and make decisions that could impact your business for years on end. Two crucial aspects of managing your small business are identifying potential leaders and breeding them for future success. Here are a few tips that will help you prepare the next generation of leaders in your company.

Offer two-way mentoring
The common image of mentorship is that of an established professional teaching a young worker how to increase productivity and grow as an employer. In many cases, this model is applicable and helps youthful staff members become strong contributors who will someday be able to ascend into upper-level jobs.

However, as the American Express OPEN Forum explains, this isn’t the only mentorship system you can use in your business. Two-way training is a viable option that allows young employees to teach veteran staff members while still learning the basics. Millennials are adept at using technology and can show baby boomers and others how to use the latest technology for everyday practices. Meanwhile, older workers can show their younger counterparts how to become better professionals.

This symbiotic relationship is great for grooming leaders because it gives workers additional responsibilities. When someone becomes a leader, he or she will be expected to train new hires and integrate new devices with current systems. By allowing millennials to teach older workers how to use cutting-edge gadgets, you’re allowing them to develop educational skills in preparation for teaching future staff members.

Set the example
“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” isn’t just an old saying – it’s a practice you use to prepare future leaders in your organization. Debra Davenport, president of Identity IQ LLC, recently explained to the National Federal of Independent Business that leaders have to set examples for employees to follow moving forward.

“As the leader, everyone is looking at what I do: the way I treat employees, how I treat others, how I interact with clients and vendors,” Davenport said.

You have to be careful with your actions and words when training potential managers. Everything you say and do is being watched by staff members, meaning that you always have to behave perfectly to ensure that future leaders don’t learn any bad habits from you. Be mindful of how you present and conduct yourself in professional situations because your behaviors will influence how your employees act once they are put in charge of the company.

Find employees who can adapt
Leadership is a dynamic and demanding task. Many workers believe they have what it takes to be in charge, but in many cases they quickly discover that they don’t have the fortitude to sit on the throne. Many people wilt under the pressure of having to adapt so frequently to new challenges and external forces. The best leaders are the ones who thrive when presented with new challenges and won’t allow obstacles to hamstring future plans.

MSN Careers notes that you should look for adaptable employees early on because they are prime candidates to become future leaders. Watch how well staff members handle unforeseen circumstances to see who should be put on the path to leadership. While some will stumble on the way to the top, you’ll be able to see if they can keep rolling with the punches and making necessary changes to their work habits.

Never stop training
Even if you divide your responsibilities among three or four successors, they may struggle to flourish in their new roles. Being a leader isn’t an easy job by any means, so you have to train workers as frequently as possible in preparation. The education of future managers should never stop because new responsibilities will keep popping up and these workers must be adequately prepared. Train employees whenever you can and consider requiring additional seminars with expert speakers. In some cases, you may even want to send future leaders back to school to hone specific skills.

Identifying potential leaders and grooming them for upper-level positions will help your small business flourish now and in the future. What do you look for in potential leaders? Do you have a formal training program for these workers?

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Martin Jones

Martin Jones is a Senior Marketing Manager with the corporate Cox Communications social media team where he assists in leading strategy, campaign ideation and marketing execution for Cox Business social media & content marketing. Today, over 1 million fans engage with Cox Communications content, campaigns and Customer Care on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. LinkedIn and Google+.