Today’s workforce is more age diverse than ever, and typically comprises four generations: Baby Boomers (50s–70s), Gen X (late-30s–40s), Millennials or Gen Y (mid-20s–mid-30s) and Gen Z (young 20s). That said, Baby Boomers are leaving the workforce in droves – up to 10,000 per day – and as they retire, they take with them valuable knowledge and experience pertaining to their roles and team leadership.
As these employees exit the workforce, they leave behind roles and leadership gaps that need to be filled – and companies that do not have sufficient leadership pipelines are finding themselves in a lurch.
The good news is this is (somewhat) easy to remedy, if businesses create a leadership pipeline of current employees who demonstrate the adequate leadership potential. Here are five tips to selecting and grooming pipeline talent for leadership roles.
1. Identify employees with leadership potential
The first thing that needs to happen when building a leadership pipeline is for department heads to identify which of their Millennial and Gen Z team members have the potential to become future leaders. Though there is no one formula for making a leader, managers should have a sense of which employees have the technical skill-sets to perform their roles, as well as appropriate soft skills and motivation to grow into a leader.
2. Discuss goals and create development plans
Once these potential leaders are identified, the next step is to set up meetings to let them know of this new opportunity to grow. If they are interested to move forward, then it’s time to discuss their professional goals and work together to create a development plan tailored to the employee’s skills, personality and areas of focus. Make sure the employee knows what skills or KPIs they should be working towards first.
3. Provide regular feedback
Once the development plans are in place, schedule regular check-ins with the future leaders to talk through their progress, including successes, any roadblocks they have encountered and questions they have.
Though these meetings can be held between a department head and employee, they could also be through a mentorship programme – perhaps between Baby Boomer or Gen X employees and the future leaders – through a professional coach, or a combination of these options. However, make sure the future leaders know they don’t have to wait for these check-ins if they need additional assistance, and that they can approach the leadership development team or their direct supervisor when needed.
4. Provide opportunities to grow
The leadership development plan should include KPIs, but for the future leaders to hit those KPIs, they need to be given opportunities to do so. Be sure to provide them with chances to develop new skills by giving them more responsibilities – perhaps an account or project to manage, a P&L to helm, or an intern to supervise – as well as the guidance and support they’ll require as they take on these new tasks.
A great example of this comes from Struan McKay, Managing Director, RGF Executive Search Japan, whose first task when he became a manager was to supervise a large team of staff members who were older and more experienced than he was at the time. “My employer smartly surrounded me with a bank of trusted advisors and slowly increased the scale and risk factors of the projects we worked on. In hindsight, I learned that what seemed chaotic at times to me was actually a very well-managed and controlled exercise in giving me a safe environment to learn, fail and grow.”
5. Foster emotional intelligence
It’s possible there will be a lot of hand-holding in the beginning as these employees develop new skills and competencies, especially when working with clients or other team members. As they turn to their managers and mentors for advice, encourage them to find their own solutions and present them, rather than asking what current leaders would do. From there, help these future leaders learn to trust their instincts and learn how to make decisions quickly and with confidence.
By implementing these five steps, businesses should be able to begin building their leadership pipelines and helping their current employees grow into the leaders of tomorrow.
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