Having to see a department manager resign is a situation which forces HR leaders to have a succession planning ready. You want to make sure that new leaders are well-prepared to take over leadership positions and job responsibilities of previous leaders who have left the company. Promoting junior employees to become new leaders should come with the right mentoring strategy and here is how to do it right.
While some believe that nominees for new leaders may simply be drawn from high-performing employees, there are occasions when the traits of those outstanding employees may not fit with the capacity of leadership. In general, leaders should possess three essential characteristics in order to lead effectively: mindfulness, compassion, and selflessness. Other than that, candidates for leadership positions should have ambition, empathy, confidence, and strong interpersonal and intrapersonal qualities. In addition to leadership qualities, HR managers and previous leaders should make time to mentor “the qualified employees” in order to successfully lead the team inside the business.
Here are the most practical steps for mentoring new leaders.
Effective mentoring begins with defining the objectives and outcomes you want new leaders to achieve. Oftentimes, succession fails because new leaders are not well-informed about the company’s expectations towards them. Keep in mind that these junior employees still need time to adjust if they were to be promoted, no matter how much time they have spent learning from their previous leaders.
Set objectives with appropriate metrics or milestones. Metrics should not only quantify the performance of the mentoring process, but also inspire them to get a grasp of leadership in the meantime. Strike a balance between your expectations and new leaders’ abilities by discussing objectives with them from the beginning. This will promote open communication and establish the groundwork for mutual understanding.
Create a mentor-mentee relationship that will allow the trainee to polish their leadership abilities until they are ready to stand on their own. As an HR manager in charge of succession, it is critical for you to not be distant and detached, but rather to make yourself available if new leaders need you. Anticipate that these new leaders may have many things they are unfamiliar with, and since their previous leaders have left, you need to make yourself ready to guide them. Frequent communication with them to gather their perspectives, ideas, and concerns regarding your mentoring strategy and style may be highly beneficial in determining how to ensure the succession goes smoothly.
A leader’s most crucial talent is knowing how to successfully establish interactions with new people or leaders while adhering to the leadership principle of participating in conversation. However, this does not come easy for junior employees who are new in officially leading a team or department. As an HR manager, support these new leaders in enhancing both writing and verbal communication skills. Guide them to practice networking at its simplest level, starting from how they lead a weekly meeting with employees. If you are unsure of how to develop their networking skill, you can consider signing them up for a short course or invite an expert to train them on this matter.
Understanding business acumen is critical for new leaders since it is the capacity to integrate experience, knowledge, perspective, and awareness to make the optimal decision for a team and the company. However, developing business acumen should not come off as forcing your trainees to understand every function and task in your company. Another approach to develop their business acumen is to have them spend time with leaders from various departments and acquire the skills directly from the professionals. This will help aspiring leaders not only comprehend the company from all aspects, but also recognize and address problems.
According to Tony at For-managers, ownership is a mindset that inspires and motivates team members. This is not to be mistaken as a ‘bossy’ mentality, but rather a sense of ownership where they are ready to be responsible too if anything goes wrong within the company. Teaching them about objectives, ideals, and a sense of community will assist them in taking responsibility for their job. This sense of ownership will make the new leaders feel respected, appreciated, and influential inside the company, allowing them to develop their own ideas without the need for extra assistance from top management. Develop this mindset by granting trust and permission to make certain decisions, for example let them come up with a new program or initiative within their department. If you give them enough trust, they will be more careful executing duties and believing that with great power comes great responsibility.
Aside from teaching practical skills above, you should not forget to emphasize the soft skills a great leader should possess. You should especially focus on important soft skills of a great leader, such as teamwork, decision-making, problem-solving, empowerment, and empathy.
Good mentoring strategy is what it takes to transform junior employees to be top leaders in your company. In succession planning, HR serves as both a designer and a facilitator. Therefore, your succession planning program has to be constantly evaluated and improved in order to keep up with the changing demands of the job market as well as employee performance and career goals.