Developing leaders from within an organization is critically important to evolve and grow your company — and to ensure you have engaged employees who are empowered to take on your biggest opportunities and tackle your toughest challenges.
As Two Rivers Marketing has grown the last few years, developing strong managers and leaders became essential to maintaining a healthy agency. Our managers have come from within and also have been hired from outside our organization. It became clear we needed consistent and defined leadership practices to help associates achieve success and bring our agency forward.
It was a priority to choose a management training program that aligned with our culture and values. One of our core values is to hire the best people, place them in positions they like, and help them grow. We wanted to find a training program we could put into practice every day, build trust for our managers and their direct reports, and establish ongoing and consistent feedback. We knew it would take a commitment of time and resources.Is your organization looking to start or improve leadership training? Read about the Connected Leader program best practices we’ve learned and implemented by working with Mike Wagner of White Rabbit.
Measuring leadership training and success
No matter what type of training program you choose, you need a way to measure leadership success. Without measurement, it’s difficult to know what’s working and what’s not.
Consider this continuum from Connected Leader to track and measure success:
- Fulfill the mission. Defining your mission helps you measure progress and results. We looked at our strategic plan, core values, and vision statement to outline a mission. A mission provides structure and helps ensure everyone is pointed in the same direction. Follow the mission to make decisions for the long-term good of the organization rather than the short-term good of a few.
- Take care of your people. Provide work/life balance and the tools employees need to grow as leaders. Employees gain fulfillment when they are supported and know they bring value to the organization. Regular face time between employees and supervisors is one way to communicate that value and gain helpful feedback.
Make more leaders. Creating leaders goes beyond simply managing people. Nurturing leaders in an organization requires continuous coaching, feedback, and mentoring, as well as setting clear expectations. Formal annual performance appraisals are key to measuring success and maintaining a positive dialogue around goals. Conducting manager evaluations is equally important. These evaluations solicit and provide valuable feedback from direct reports and peers.
Leadership development and training tips
Once the mission and vision are in place, there are additional strategies that can help teams get the most out of leadership training, like the Connected Leader program. We learned the following from Mike Wagner at White Rabbit.
- Connect: Weekly one-on-one meetings between employees and supervisors are the foundation of developing good leaders. These meetings build a level of respect, trust, and understanding. Regular touch-base sessions also help people better understand each other’s work styles and preferences. Building rapport makes providing and accepting feedback easier. There is no shortcut to forming these relationships. It requires a commitment to the weekly meeting schedule — though it’s okay to keep them brief.
- Correct: Mistakes will happen in our work lives. Immediate, clear, and honest feedback from a manager is the kinder response for employees. Unclear feedback is unkind, and it can result in more confusion and challenges. It may be difficult to be straightforward, but skirting around an uncomfortable issue doesn’t benefit anyone.
- Equip: Good leaders help employees grow their habits, skills, and knowledge. Leaders should demonstrate good practices and provide feedback and praise when someone is doing well. Help the employee identify tools for support and growth.
- Amplify: To fully develop leaders, the training wheels eventually must come off. Delegate projects and empower employees to take on a greater role and more challenges that will help them grow as leaders. Allow them to take on more as they complete jobs successfully. This helps create a perpetual elevation of employees within the organization.
Do you have tips for developing leaders in your organization? If so, we want to hear from you! Send us an email.