small biz advice
Fast Tracking Your Staff
“The future belongs to those who prepare for it!” ~Jim Moran~
As an entrepreneur, one of your most important tasks is planning for the future of your business. Most know that marketing, new products, finance and growth are important components of this task, but many overlook the most critical element: staff.
Your staff will not just wake up one day with the skills they need for the new position you want them to hold. Having your staff appropriately trained and ready to go when you need them is so important for the future of your business.
I was meeting with the very successful CEO of a business that had about 100 employees. When I asked him how he was going to acquire the staff he needed to lead his company in the next 10 years, he recognized it was a valid question but did not have a very good answer. He had never taken the time to think about what the business would need in terms of staffing and skills.
To nurture future leaders, some businesses identify staff members they feel have potential and put them on a fast-track program. These employees rotate through many different assignments and are intensely mentored to ensure they will be ready to assume greater responsibility down the road. Every year, they meet with the CEO to discuss their progress.
Another very successful method is to assign employees a senior staff member who can mentor and advise them throughout their entire career. The mentor is responsible for ensuring their mentee has the training they need, both from a knowledge perspective and a technology standpoint. Additional training is also provided with input from both the mentor and the mentee.
As part of the program, participants are given assignments that force them out of their comfort zone and expose them to other areas of the company. For instance, if the person is in the finance department, they spend time in marketing to give them a more complete understanding of the firm.
Many entrepreneurs are reluctant to implement fast-track programs because they fear it will show favoritism and alienate the staff members not selected. While this is true, it is still important to identify and train the employees that are capable of managing your business in the future. Without a fast-track program, you will not have the necessary staff in place and your business will not be ready to reach the next level.
Now go out and evaluate the skill sets your company will need for the next five to 10 years and do an honest assessment of your staff. If you do not have the requisite staff in place (most firms will not), consider implementing a fast-track program to groom your company's future leaders.
You can do this.