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Growing your existing staff talent into new leaders for your company

23.01.2015

Many companies see the process of finding a new leader as an isolated event, rather than as an ongoing process. Instead of proactively identifying and cultivating leaders from within their existing staff pool, they seek to hire from competing companies, which inevitably requires a heftier spend than internal talent spotting and employee promotion.

It is easy to see why this is so often the case: the rush of everyday work can mean that managers and directors lose track of their employees’ development, seeing them only as a cog in the role that they are in and failing to think about how they might grow into even more important roles when they become available.

Taking measures to ensure that promising talent is recognised from within the organisation as well as outside it will ensure that existing employees fulfil their maximum potential and feel valued for their contributions to the company’s overall success.

So what methods can employers use to recognise leadership talent from inside their own businesses? Here are some tips for identifying the choice candidates for a high-responsibility role.

Hold regular reviews

It will come as no surprise to hear that spending a good amount of time talking face to face with your employees in order to understand their strengths, weaknesses, goals and ambitions is the best way to understand the potential within your company. If you do not spend time getting to know your staff and their approach to work, you cannot possibly make a logical decision about whether or not someone in your organisation has the talent and drive to succeed as a leader.

For this reason, it is a good idea to book regular reviews with every member of your team. This does not have to be a daunting or formal experience for either of you – simply catching up over a coffee and taking the time to chat about how things are going will give you ample opportunity to understand the motives of your staff, and gauge whether any of them would be a good fit for a promotion into project management.

Encourage collaboration

Tasks that require teamwork are perfect opportunities for you to see whether any of the members in your team take the initiative to lead and manage the situation. By turning everyday tasks into group collaboration sessions, you create a situation in which an individual can show their skills while you observe their abilities from the side-line.

Make it clear that you will not be participating in the task yourself, but keep a watchful eye on the group session and keep track of those team players that show impressive traits of leadership. Following up with a private review and praise of how they handled the situation will encourage similar behaviour in the future.

Create incentives for leadership

If you know that a new role will be coming up and suspect that a suitable candidate may already exist in your team, one way to subtly test for a possible promotion is to run an internal contest in which employees know that they must strive to fulfil particular goals to win.

Whether this is the tried and tested ‘Employee of the Month’ scheme or something entirely different is up to you – be creative and set targets that closely match the criteria you are looking for. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised to find that even the smallest incentive can ignite a new spark of life into your team, letting you clearly observe which staff members shine the brightest.

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