Your job is to know your employees. With all else that you do – recruitment, hiring, onboarding, performance evaluations, exit interviews, policy manual writing, benefits management, etc., HR managers often forget that they have a group of humans out there, each with their individual career goals and aspirations.
And there are some within that group who show promise of leadership within the organization. If this is not nurtured and encouraged, these valuable employees will look elsewhere for the fulfilment of their goals. Are you ready and willing to lose them?
You also have employees already in leadership positions – supervisors, team leaders, department managers – who may be struggling or who may simply need further training and development to become better (and who doesn’t need improvement) at what they do.
So, how do you go about improving leadership skills in those who are already in such positions and those who aspire to be in them? Here are some solid tips and strategies.
1) First and Foremost – Defining the Term
Every organization is unique, and everyone in a leadership position within that organization is unique. It is only natural that individuals’ definitions of leadership will be widely varied. And those definitions will impact their behaviors toward those they supervise.
While it is important to honor the individual personalities of those in leadership positions, there cannot be such disparity that there are not general principles of leadership to which all of your leaders should ascribe.
In this respect, you yourself must lead. And in so doing, you must model for leaders the type of behaviors you need and expect from them.
Begin with meetings with your leadership team. In large enterprises, these may have to be divided up into smaller groups, so that there is more opportunity for give-and-take communication.
Your goal is to develop a definition of leadership, one that is compatible with organizational mission and goals and that all leaders can understand and strive to meet.
It is not unusual for HR managers to bring in a consultant for this activity. Sometimes, you are not a “prophet in your own land,” and someone from the outside may actually get more honest participation and opinions. It will be critical, though, that any consultant is fully aware of organizational goals, so that they may be woven into any discussions that will occur.
When you involve current leaders in developing a broad definition of leadership, you are modeling for them what you hope they will also do with their teams/departments – providing an environment that encourages open communication.
Coming to a definition will naturally involve a set of behaviors that leaders should exhibit. Once developed, these will set forth the expectations, as well as common language about leadership and what those language terms actually mean. This begins the process of getting everyone on the “same page.”
2) Providing Support and Development
Once there is a common definition of leadership and the concurrent behavioral expectations, it is time to determine the skill levels of current and would-be leaders in the organization, and where there are gaps in training and development. It is the responsibility of you as the HR manager to develop those training and development programs that will be a match for employee needs and the organizational definition of what effective leadership is.
Training and development programs should be long-term and sustained and should include combinations of formal training (even coursework), coaching, and mentoring. It is also important to understand that learning does not necessarily mean that is “cemented” and actually translated into action. All training must include actual practice. Employees need to be put in actual situations in which they can practice and demonstrate mastery of their skills. Stan Mason, Director of Writer Training for TrustMyPaper puts it this way: “Once we complete new writer training, we have to give them plenty of practical experience. New skills are not mastered without practice.”
3) Put Systems and Policies into Place
A system that provides for continual training and development is just one element of promoting leadership in employees. According to HR management at ClassyEssay, a system of regular appraisal and feedback for those in leadership positions must be in place so that leaders and potential leaders can continue to grow individually.
One sign of a healthy organization is that it has policies in place for all levels of employees. There are safety guides for those on factory floors; there are guides related to non-discrimination, and there are employee benefits manuals, etc. While many organizations do not have one, there should be a guide/manual that defines and explains what leadership means to the organization and the behaviors that such elements include.
Regular appraisals and feedback should be another system that is in place so that leaders and upcoming leaders know exactly what they are doing well and so that goals can be set for continued improvement.
To house all of this vital HR information, HR software for small business is something that should be considered an important piece towards enabling strong leaders.
The Common Denominator
Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes depending upon organizational goals and definitions. There are very conservative organizations that have a hierarchy in place and that are more “autocratic” in their leadership styles; there are progressive young companies that place importance on participatory and democratic leadership styles. And there are organizations that are anywhere on a continuum from autocratic to democratic. The common denominator among all of these is that what constitutes leadership is clearly defined, that behaviors that support that leadership are spelled out, and that leaders and potential leaders are provided the support, training, and resources to meet those organizational expectations.
Nicole Garrison is a blogger and writer working at Supreme Dissertations and TopEssayWriting, two websites dealing in writing and marketing. In addition to this, she has also launched her own blog, LiveInspiredMagazine. Nicole believes the key to being an effective writer is to always conduct proper research.