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Employee training: 5 ways to turn staff into leaders

Mar 27, 2019 | 4 minutes read | Grow your team

A great manager needs to take initiative, communicate well, and be a role model for the employees he or she manages. However, not everyone is a born leader—but that doesn’t mean they can’t become one. With the right employee training and guidance, lower-level employees can quickly rise to the position of leader, empowering them to do better at their job now and in the future.

This is why “training” employees to be leaders should be a part of your workplace, suggests the team at Tony Robbins.

“Leadership should be part of the everyday culture of your business. Employees at all levels of the company can lead, and when they do practice great leadership in their work, they will enjoy greater empowerment.”

Offering leadership training and development can also help with employee retention. Studies show that 79% of people who leave their role do so because of a “lack of appreciation.”

Make employee training and development part of your culture and mold your staff members into leaders with these simple but critical ideas.

1. Offer regular feedback

One of the best ways to push your staff to become leaders is by offering regular feedback on their performance and projects. According to a study from Officevibe, 65% of employees want more feedback from their supervisors. Weekly one-on-one meetings can go a long way toward molding your staff into the employees and leaders you hope to see.

It’s important to make sure the feedback is both constructive and complimentary. Explain what your employees can do better but also highlight some of the strengths and positive attributes they bring to the team. Not only will this improve their confidence, but it will also improve their performance and engagement. Don’t forget to be as specific as possible so employees are clear on what you mean and how they can improve.

When offering feedback as part of ongoing training and development, Officevibe recommends that managers focus on these three factors to keep it specific and actionable:

  • Their behavior: Outline what your employee did and how they did it. Did they miss an important deadline? Or did they go above-and-beyond on a recent project? Highlight the specifics of their actions so your employee can understand your feedback.
  • The outcome: If an employee’s actions are the cause in this equation, you should also outline the effects of their actions. How did their behavior impact the team or company? If they missed a deadline, did this cost the company money or affect the workload of another team member? If so, outline these specifics so your employee understands how this specific behavior has impacted others.
  • Next steps: What actionable steps can you and your employee take from this feedback? Outline how to improve performance, curb a specific behavior, or replicate successes.

2. Let employees be creative and take risks

Technology is evolving at a pace we’ve never seen before, which has lead to a faster pace of innovation in business. Companies are trying bold new ways to reach their customers, which can be a high-risk strategy that also comes with great rewards. So much so, that most innovative and creative companies are receiving about 30%more market share than their conservative competitors, according to Creativity: A Skill to Cultivate In the 21st Century.

Encourage your employees to be creative in their projects and find new ways to update processes, re-think challenges, and collaborate with one another. You may have to reject some ideas, but give them the freedom and resources to take these risks and then learn from the ones that don’t pan out.

The career coaches on the Forbes Coaches Council offered multiple ways to foster creativity amongst your employees, including:

  • Host in-person brainstorming sessions
  • Use the “yes, and” improvisation tactic to build on others’ suggestions
  • Support failure (and make sure your employees know failed experiments doesn’t equate with negative career repercussions)
  • Give guidance and directions on projects, not limits
  • Allow employees to lead the discussion rather than managers
  • Promote experimentation (host a quarterly Hackathon or dedicate a specific time each week to work on a new experiment

3. Encourage employees to network outside of work

Your company might already offer professional development opportunities for employees, but classes and training sessions can only go so far. Encourage your employees to share their knowledge with others outside of the four walls of your office.

Allow time off for networking lunches, external career growth classes, or conferences and trade shows. Better yet, encourage potential leaders to speak at events. Giving them the confidence to present what they know will not only make them more comfortable in their own work, but it will also make them a more authoritative figure in their field.

4. Give soon-to-be leaders more responsibilities

Being told they don’t have experience can be frustrating for aspiring managers or leaders to hear. The trouble is, without guidance, they don’t know where to turn to gain the experience they need to take the next step in their career.

You can help by providing small leadership opportunities outside of their normal duties. For example:

  • Lead breakout sessions at a company-wide meeting
  • Run the department’s internship program
  • Head an important project team

These added responsibilities will teach employees how to think differently and interact with their teammates on a new level. The more they learn, the closer they get to being leadership-ready.

5. Start a mentorship program

One of the best ways to get leadership experience without leading an entire team is to mentor a junior employee. Codementor has implemented a mentoring program in their company with junior developers—the next generation of leaders.

“Having a junior developer take on the responsibility is a great way for them to put their knowledge to practice, give them leadership opportunities, and quietly check that they are up to snuff.”

Implement a mentor program in your company, pairing junior or senior employees with entry-level employees. Employees who want to move into leadership will relish the opportunity to teach and lead, while lower-level staff members get invaluable training and development experiences.

Moving forward with employee training

You play a major role in the success or failure of your employees and their leadership training. It’s not a quality that everyone on your team will possess just yet, but with a little guidance and the right training and development opportunities, some employees may surprise you, turning into leaders before your eyes.

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