Wendy Schmitt is vice president of The Elliot Group, a boutique retained executive search firm with expertise in the restaurant, hospitality, retail and service sectors. For more than thirty-five years, The Elliot Group has been globally recognized for its thought leadership and human capital knowledge. This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management.
In order for organizations to foster outstanding cultures and be sought out by “best of class”’ talent, it is increasingly important that these companies have internal roadmaps of promotion, education, cross training and leadership development. Developing the next generation of leadership is not only sound business practice, but it is imperative to challenge the intellectual thinking of talent who aspire to reach new levels of success.
The advantages to having bench strength include high productivity, since the team is well trained; good morale, thanks to regular succession planning and career development discussions; a reputation as a best in class employer for taking care of the employees and encouraging growth and learning.
Most of us can name companies that are known for being excellent training grounds. Even for the ones who move onto new opportunities, they remain proud alumni and often encourage others to work there, or even return later in their careers. It is just good sense to take care of your people and provide them with growth opportunities. Healthy people practices will stem costly turnover, and a well-trained and engaged workforce improves productivity.
But where do you start? Here are six important traits to look for in identifying those who are ready for their next step in career growth.
- They are team players. Take inventory of the talent and you’ll hear the same names repeatedly. The ones who step in to solve problems, pitch in on a tight deadline, and say “yes” are the ones who are ready to take on more responsibility and who understand the value of working collaboratively with others. Schedule time to meet with the field team, asking these questions to reinforce the importance as part of your regular visits. Inspect what you expect.
- They have accountability. Look for the people on your team who can take criticism well and bounce back, learning from the mistake and trying to improve. These are individuals with high emotional intelligence who have a solid self-awareness and maturity at work. As they apply feedback and the results improve, point it out to acknowledge their efforts.
- They are highly engaged. An employee who is able to put the company’s success or their particular team’s success ahead of personal success is one who can lead and will do more without being asked if it helps the team or company. Who are the natural cheerleaders? Seek them out.
- They are problem solvers. Find the person who shows some creativity, asks questions of senior leadership and suggests solutions to issues at hand. Allow the critical thinkers to engage others in solving problems and encourage them to present new ways to get the work completed. Throw out the challenge and notice who steps up to come up with a solution. Make time to hear their ideas and nurture this trait.
- They meet deadlines. This is a must-have that shows that the person can prioritize and can get work done.
- They are curious. Seek out and reward employees with a desire to stretch beyond their current core competencies. They volunteer, take risks and become engaged in skill sets that are new to them.