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How to Strengthen Your Leadership Pipeline

Posted on 10th July 2019 by Jo Lothian

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Placing the right candidate in a vacant position is one of the key most important factors to the success of a company- after all, people are what makes the business world go ‘round. Second to that, perhaps, is having someone who can step into the role and hit the ground running without too much effort, so that business as usual can resume. The tricky part, however, is that candidates who are new to a business need a large investment of time and resources to bring them up speed – and rightly so, they know little (if anything) about the company culture and the way things are done around there.

We here at MAYDAY are huge advocates of proper onboarding processes for new employees, but something that can cut training and culture absorption in half is to have a strong leadership pipeline in place. In this instance, if any employee leaves who is not in an entry-level position, there is another internal candidate ready to take the next step in their career; to fill the big shoes that are about to leave the building. In order to do this, companies need to invest in strategies and resources to help prepare future leaders at all levels for increasingly important roles within their business.

Create an Ongoing Program

There are companies big and small out there who have programs that aim to improve the performance of senior-level employees, however 53% don’t offer any training or development programs at all and even fewer have an official leadership development program to inspire employees who aren’t at senior level. When companies actively nurture their internal talent at all levels, employees gain a new sense of purpose and achieve a higher rate of job satisfaction, which inevitably leads to higher retention rates. Retention is a huge issue for Australian businesses, with 15% of staff currently leaving their existing workplace and many more thinking about doing the same, so anything that can be done to improve the employee experience is worth looking into.

Another benefit of these leadership programs is that other employees will be encouraged to by seeing their peers growing and taking on new responsibilities; some will be more proactive than others, but seeing peers succeed gives others something to aspire to and will provide them with additional motivation. They will begin to realise that if they put in the right type of effort as well, they could achieve the same objective. This type of thought process will permeate the organisation leading to extra engagement and strong retention levels across the teams.

Fostering Communication

For the pipelining strategy to be effective, there needs to be two-way communication between senior leaders and junior members. Senior members of staff will coach and mentor those that are moving up through the pipeline so that they can eventually become potential leaders; it’s important to develop formal mentoring strategies and encourage coaching behaviour so that these techniques become second nature to all. This will require a concerted effort in the beginning and will need to be driven from above. Your leadership team will need to allocate time to earn the trust and respect of junior members, to fully understand how juniors view the organization, and to assess what they hope to achieve. Once that level of trust has been established, it will be much easier to pass on the necessary skills, industry insights, philosophies and expertise.

According to one survey conducted by Gallup, the millennial generation is far more likely to engage with the company if their manager is to give them regular feedback and schedule consistent meetings. 44% of those surveyed said that they would value this type of input, but less than half of that number said that they felt they met with their managers often enough. The danger here is that the younger employee is left to assume too much. They may feel that their current behaviour is “good enough” or that their importance is not valued. Over time, these assumptions can be demotivating and can lead to apathy in the workplace. Inevitably, some of these individuals will look across the horizon at other opportunities, and undeveloped talent may go to waste. At MAYDAY our leadership team have fortnightly one on ones with individual members of the team along with quarterly appraisals and career develop sessions. This helps our people consistently know where they’re at, and what the next steps of their career can be.


Learning from Within

Alongside mentorship from leaders and having regular check-ins, real-life workplace situations provide the ideal raw material to encourage employees to learn. On-the-job training can augment this type of experience and force individuals to learn from real problems they may face when they enter a leadership position. As staff members learn how to deal with challenging assignments or situations, they can be given additional responsibilities to help them become successful. They should be given a certain amount of leeway to fix the problem themselves, and this level of autonomy will undoubtedly help them to progress. The consultants at MAYDAY each have additional duties and extra projects outside of their day to day that they’ve taken from the leadership team over time in order to better understand the importance of those tasks in helping the business run effectively. It also gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility, by getting the know “the why” behind it all.

Another opportunity for leadership pipelining can come from overcoming the “silo” mentality within a business, where individual divisions have been left to look after their own affairs. Sometimes the biggest learning curve for a new recruit can be from understanding the culture and nature of how a business operates, however if you bring in an existing employee from a different department you almost entirely remove that hurdle. If departments collaborate and communicate effectively, then the entire organisation becomes a more cohesive unit. Peers can mentor across the departmental divide or learn what it takes to be effective within the other division. This means that leadership opportunities in one silo could be taken up by a growing employee from another.

Saving Time and Money

Initiatives such as these will tend to save the organisation both time and money in the long run. There is a lot of competition to obtain today’s top candidates and they are acting quickly; the time it can take to fill a position that suddenly becomes vacant can cost a business a lot in terms of lost hours and inefficiency in others picking up the extra work. Promoting strong candidates from within saves time, money, keeps hiring manager’s focus where it should be, and most of all it motivates others to go the extra mile and potentially step up. Of course, those from further down the ladder who have been groomed for this situation will still need to be replaced, and the great thing is every external candidate wants to be inspired by the potential of real progression – if you can not only offer this, but you can prove it, you will attract the top junior recruits who will become tomorrow’s leaders.

If you would like more advice on how to grow your leadership pipeline, or if you in the market for some great new recruits nation-wide, please do reach out to one of the MAYDAY Recruitment consultants today on 02 8377 5600 or info@maydayrecruitment.com.

MAYDAY are specialists in the temporary and permanent recruitment of all your workplace’s shared service functions. We support companies hiring individuals in Finance, HR, Marketing, Sales, Administration and Customer Service, and are industry leaders in client and candidate care.