How to find and develop the next generation of leaders

May 1, 2019

Being a leader means not only are you able to take the lead on projects or divvy out assignments, but you are able to identify and help foster other employees’ skills so that they, too, can become a leader later. Leadership development encompasses a lot of facets once you have the right team in place — you decipher each employee’s individualities and begin to see who excels at management and supervisory tasks. But before any of that can take place, you need the right people.

Part of being a capable leader is finding and attracting the right talent, and then onboarding those folks so that they can help you achieve your businesses’ overarching goals. Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific knows that ensuring each employee fits in well with your defined company culture is critical to building a better business overall.

First, business owners need to learn how to attract top talent. This starts by answering goal-oriented questions such as: What type of talent do you need right now? What specific requirements do you need in applicants? What are your short and long-term goals for hiring? How can you accurately communicate the organization’s mission?

The last question is particularly important when hiring millennials, who now make up the majority of the U.S. workforce. As of 2017, 56 million Millennials were working or looking for work, compared with 53 million Generation Xers and 41 million Baby Boomers, according to Pew Research Center data.

For business leaders looking to hire, this is good and bad news. On the one hand, you have a huge talent pool to potentially pick from. But, on the other hand, you are trying to appeal to the most digitally savvy generation yet — meaning it will be hard to attract top talent with a simple job posting. Millennials want interaction, brand awareness and a well-defined company culture.

Today, a top-talent graduate is more than likely going to have multiple opportunities in multiple fields, so candidates need to have some type of solidified bond with you or your business to join the team. For hiring managers, it will be important to meet potential candidates in person multiple times to build that relationship. Consider hosting meetings or small events for applicants so you can get to know them and decide how their skills match your goals outlined above.

Once talent has been narrowed down, it is up to an organization’s key leaders to hire the right people.

First, employers need to be ready for a ton of resumes — the average job posting receives 250 resumes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, despite all of the applicants, it will be difficult to find quality talent. That’s not because the talent isn’t there, it’s because you might be looking in the wrong places. As discussed above, a simple job posting is not going to attract today’s brightest minds. You need to reach out to your network for recommendations and post about the job actively on social media.

Next, be flexible with how you hire. Remote job listings increased 51 percent from 2014 to 2017, so considering remote or freelance workers is essential. As a company leader, perhaps most important is how you sift through all of these potential hires. The key? Do not rush. It is nearly impossible to lead a group that does not fit well within your organization, so take time to find the right people.

Now that you’ve hired the best employee you could find, it’s time to onboard. Internal leadership development starts right here — 40 percent of employees report being likely to leave because of poor training or onboarding, according to hiring firm Go2HR. Ensuring your new employee understands the job duties is critical to safeguarding your business from bearing the hefty costs of replacing that employee in the event he or she quits.

Consider these tips when developing an onboarding process:

1. Training should be flexible and specialized — Gone are the days of sitting a new employee in front of a TV to watch a two-hour long training video. Explain your business’ current and forward-looking values in a way that involves the new employee.

2. Be ready— Have desks and logins ready. Consider putting together a pamphlet that explains company structure and who they report to, along with a welcome note or company mug, pens, etc.

3. Be specific about timelines — Lay out expectations from the start with spaced out goals to check in, such as every 30, 60 and 90 days, for example. Assign tasks and set meetings ahead of time to discuss progress and questions about their expectations. This encourages your new hire to tackle obstacles headon. And, of course, share positive feedback when it’s deserved. Reward employees with encouragement and company perks wherever you can.

Being a leader tasked with all of this can be overwhelming. But helping others capitalize on their own management skills not only helps the organization as a whole but it also benefits you as you continually sharpen your own leadership skills along the way.

Jeremy Johnson is the Eastern Idaho Marketplace Manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific. Contact the BBB at 208-342-4649 or email to info@thebbb.org.