Organizations prosper when they identify, develop, and retain talented leaders. That’s why good HR managers consider performance management a top priority. The task, though, can be challenging, when you consider the multitude of variables that need to be managed, from diversity to globalization, demographic changes, new technology, and beyond. Growing talent is the key to competitive advantage. Ultimately, managing future leadership is a complex challenge that requires a holistic approach.
When it comes to employee succession and replacement planning, talent identification plays a vital role in the long-term viability of a business. That’s why organizations of all sizes and across every industry are developing formal programs to identify and nurture skilled employees early in their job tenure and careers. Yet many small and medium-sized organizations struggle with this seemingly simple task. When you don’t have the necessary organizational infrastructure or HR resources, identifying and retaining future stars is a difficult challenge to undertake.
You might be asking yourself if it’s possible to recognize future leaders in the absence of talent identification programs—and if it is, if such programs are as effective as they’re made out to be.
It is true that sometimes star employees see the potential in themselves, and that it will quickly be evident to you. It’s also true that sometimes a talented manager can spot a diamond in the rough. But as a rule, both of these factors are rarely present at the same time. All too often, fantastic workers aren’t yet able to showcase their many contributions, and “big talkers” are more hype than substance.
To mold future leaders, talent identification programs are still the safest bet and best return on investment. To be effective, they should target star employees, provide them with mentoring and professional development, and engage them in a variety of business functions.
For example, you might identify a very skilled and very social member of your technical team. Then, you would pair him or her with a senior employee, and offer the junior employee access to more professional development in his or her discipline, along with increased exposure to the marketing and finance aspects of your business. The essence of training and educating future leaders is to enable them to break out of a function they excel in, grow to understand other salient aspects of the business, and work to see and improve the integrations between the two.
How to Cope with Emerging HR Trends
As Generation Y grows to become the majority of the workforce over the next decade, HR personnel will be increasingly required to think outside the box in order to attract, retain, and develop employees who are more creative, more easily distracted and more tech savvy than many who came before them.
With this cohort of leaders-in-waiting, businesses must increasingly support creative and collaborative workplaces in order to stay competitive in the war for talent. The systematic shift from traditional “cube” workplace environments to the open offices we see today is symbolic not only of the adjustments that Gen-Y demands, but of the larger need for HR to be more responsive to change.
In the end, despite the changes taking place, some basic tenets of great leadership will remain unchanged. Great leaders need to be flexible, intelligent, passionate, and visionary. The different ways that global businesses spot and develop this crop of future leaders will inevitably shape the rise and fall of businesses for decades to come.
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