LEADERSHIP RESOURCES BLOG

Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

Leadership Development: How to Spot Future Leaders at Your Organization

By Leadership Resources 07/23/2020
Leadership Resources young leaders

Quality of leadership largely determines whether an organization rises, falls, or remains stagnant. But leaders do not magically descend from some higher realm — they are cultivated over time through experience, training, and perseverance. Indeed, nearly every company contains its share of potential leaders, and it is the responsibility of current leaders to identify and foster future leadership or else risk leaving a major hole in the organization upon leaving. 

Of course, not every worker is destined to be (or interested in being) a leader. Investing in these individuals is not a waste of time, but the lion’s share of leadership development resources are better spent on those who display leadership potential. With that in mind, let’s go over how to spot future leaders at your organization.

How to Find a Future Leader

Ask Yourself: Who Goes the Extra Mile?

When seeking the future leaders of your company, a good place to start is by looking at results. Consider who in your organization consistently goes above and beyond expectations. Employees that are highly results-driven prove their enthusiasm and skill, and team members that come up with new, innovative ideas drive the company’s efforts into new territories. Pay close attention to these people in your company who keep the enterprise moving forward with passion, as they already exhibit strong leadership qualities.

Weigh Both Potential and Performance

Performance is undoubtedly a key indicator when spotting future leaders, but it is not the end-all-be-all. Indeed, you may have employees who work extremely hard but don’t exude much leadership potential. “Leadership potential” is a somewhat ambiguous metric, of course, and therefore more difficult to pick apart than hard data. Still, pay attention to those with specific leadership skills, such as strong communication, team-building aptitude, a desire to grow and learn, creativity, etc. Even if they’re not your top performers in terms of your bottom line, they might be perfect fits for various leadership roles in the future, helping those top performers reach new heights.

Shake Up the Structure

One helpful way to get a beat on future leaders is by stirring the pot a bit — namely, rotating job duties and/or assigning new roles to people every now and again. In doing so, some individuals will take full advantage of the opportunity, learning new skills and pushing themselves beyond their perceived limits. Others may wish to stay in their comfort zone and/or buckle under the pressure. Those in the former category just might be your future leaders. Job rotation is a powerful exercise for succession planning, as it can help you determine which candidates could adapt and take on new roles when necessary.

Ask Yourself: Who Is Asking Questions?

While not everyone who asks questions is bound to be a leader, all future leaders ask questions. This spirit of inquiry is directly related to strong communication and therefore strong leadership. So, keep an eye on those who take the time to clarify concepts, inquire about specifics, seek solutions to ongoing problems, and ask seemingly simple questions that others might be too timid to ask.

Train Your Eye for Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or “EQ,” is one of the most important qualities of a good leader. Those who can listen to the concerns and suggestions of others and act accordingly strengthen the company’s culture, encourage employee buy-in, promote teamwork, and improve the organization’s reputation and operations as a whole. When looking for EQ in future leaders, look for individuals who display empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and strong social skills.

Ask Yourself: Who Is Invested in the Organization?

Lastly, even if you’ve found a handful of candidates who meet the above criteria, you have to consider whether or not they’re in it for the long-haul. Those who show strong leadership potential are in high-demand, after all, and many businesses spend significant resources training future managers only to have them exit the organization shortly after. While you can’t force any of your leaders to stay, though, investing in their growth is a crucial way to retain your top talent. And those who routinely express their interest in the company’s future and their role in it are top contenders for future leaders. In short, if a potential leader is invested in your organization, you must invest in their development.

Developing future leaders in your company starts with identifying the best candidates. And once you know what to look for, you may be pleasantly surprised at how many people in your organization could become leaders down the line.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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The Secret to Exiting Your Company While Keeping Your Legacy Intact

By Leadership Resources 07/01/2020
Leadership Resources' workers collaborating with company culture

As attached as you might be to your company right now, there will come a time when it is either necessary or practical to make your exit. Of course, this eventuality might be decades away — regardless of when it happens, though, those in leadership roles must consider how the company will change as a result of their absence.

For many, these thoughts provide an ample source of leadership stress. And yet, avoiding them can lead to personal and company-wide problems down the road. If you have no exit strategy in place, you run several risks when you leave: your company might not survive the transition; the organization might radically change its values, mission, goals, etc. (perhaps for the worse); and/or the many efforts you made over the years might be lost.

So, what’s the solution? While there may be no single “secret” to exiting your company while keeping your legacy intact, here are some important ways to leave strategically and graciously.

How to Leave a Company With Good Standing

Identify and Develop Up and Coming Leaders

Your company should spend adequate time and resources developing leadership as a key component of its succession strategy. These efforts will allow current leaders to pass on values, strategies, knowledge, and more to employees who show promise and ambition. And in doing so, these up and coming leaders will be able to fill roles that are left open when someone finally exits. Strategic leadership training can take many forms, but its main focus should be to prepare newer employees to not only take over necessary responsibilities, but to manage them in ways that are commensurate with the company’s underlying values.

Cultivate a Firm Yet Flexible Culture

Every company is different, and therefore so is every company culture. That said, every organizational culture should have these core aspects in common — they should be firm enough to withstand major changes (such as the absence of certain leaders and employees), yet flexible enough to change and improve over time. During your time with the company, then, you should focus on establishing such a culture that, when you leave, the company still represents the core values you helped to imbue while healthily evolving based on societal and internal developments.

Put Financial Incentives in Place (ESOPs)

If you want you and your people to maintain a vested interest in your company, (financially speaking) even after leaving, developing an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is one way to do so. It is worth noting that these plans can be quite complex and lead to various issues as well, so it’s important to weigh all of the potential costs and benefits with a certified exit planning advisor (CEPA) before making a final decision. Still, ESOPs can become a key component in your succession planning strategy, encouraging employees to take a larger stake in the company’s outcomes.

Leaving Doesn’t Mean Abandoning Ship Entirely

Depending on when and how you exit the company, you may still be able to play a role in its future success, imparting your wisdom and insights from a distance. For instance, you may be able to work as a part-time contractor or consultant to continue helping with leadership development and guiding the direction of the enterprise without steering the vessel. Your experience can be invaluable in helping employees and leaders deal with difficult decisions, stress, burnout, interpersonal issues, and so much more.

Leaving an organization is never easy, but taking the right steps during and after your time there can help set up the company for future success — success that is partially hinged on the contributions you have made and perhaps continue to make.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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Growing Business in Lincoln, NE: Will My EOS® Need Change Over Time?

By Leadership Resources 02/13/2020
Two women presenting stats on a whiteboard

Every business aims to grow in one way or another. Of course, the type, rate, and limits of this growth will vary from one organization to the next. One company might prefer to stay local but deepen its impact on the community and strengthen its operations, while another might wish to expand beyond its regional base and maximize its long-term profits. In other words, businesses seek more than just expansion — they seek sustainable and strategic growth.

How do companies in Lincoln, Nebraska and elsewhere achieve the growth and success they desire? Simply put, they need to operate under a system that clarifies both short- and long-term goals, unifies all team members to execute on those goals, and develops healthy leaders to guide these processes each day. This is where the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)® comes into play.

But what is EOS, exactly? And does this system remain useful as an enterprise grows and changes over time?

How to Manage Your Company’s EOS

Establishing EOS® for Your Organization

The Entrepreneurial Operating System is a collection of principles and practical tools designed to help businesses achieve their full potential. The EOS Model™ outlines Six Key Components™ that businesses of all sizes and scopes should bolster in order to succeed. These are Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process, and Traction®. 

Each component requires equal attention, and they bounce off one another in important ways. For instance, an organization must employ the best People to execute on its Vision, but it must also create a culture of accountability and discipline (Traction) to do so.

What Is The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)? Download this whitepaper.

Getting a Grip on Your Business’s Growth

Beyond its detailed and multi-faceted approach to business growth, what makes EOS so powerful is its adaptability. In other words, the system is designed to move at a given company’s pace and adjust accordingly. The EOS Process™ includes Focus Days™ to establish leadership roles and set priorities, as well as Vision Building Days™ to cultivate a concrete plan that looks at 90-day, 1-year, and 3-year desired outcomes. EOS also requires quarterly sessions to evaluate overall performance, reestablish focus and priorities, and resolve current issues. Annual sessions are also included in order to foster healthier team management and update the company’s vision for the upcoming quarter and year.

This broken-up, routine, dynamic performance management process changes and grows with an organization. In this way, EOS keeps companies in check every step of the way. If the business is growing beyond its means, EOS makes it possible to pump the brakes, and if it’s falling behind, EOS can address and remove the roadblocks. And all the while, leadership development is always front and center as team members grow more confident, engaged, and united.

Preparing for Your Company’s Next Chapter

As mentioned above briefly, EOS isn’t just designed to keep a business on track in the here and now — it’s also crucial to ensuring a business’s long-term success. Indeed, by performing regular checkups, a company strengthens its foundation to ensure sustainability. Simply put, the focus EOS places on team unity, accountability, problem-solving, and healthy leadership growth helps set up a business for a bright future. As such, the system helps businesses cultivate, discover, and choose the best people for the right positions when it’s time to change over leadership and/or restructure. Succession planning is made easy with EOS because it happens naturally.

So, if your business adopts EOS, will the system remain relevant as you grow? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, EOS plays a key role in ensuring your company grows in the best possible way. Best of all, EOS is built to adapt with your organization. Change is good, especially when that change is backed up and well-informed with EOS.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how we can help your business succeed and grow.

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Succession Planning for Your Nebraska Business: 4 Benefits of Leadership Development

By Leadership Resources 11/11/2019
Nebraska businesswoman doing leadership development

Nebraska is known for its resilience and innovation. Older businesses have been through the state’s many economic shifts over the years, and new entrepreneurs are leading the way in its continued revitalization and economic prominence. If you’re a business owner in Nebraska, then you already have the spirit of a leader. And to keep your enterprise strong, you want to hire those with leadership potential as well.

The fact is, just about anyone can become a leader with the right training and discipline. But as a business owner, you have to decide how many resources you’re willing to invest in leadership development. When making this decision, keep in mind that developing leaders within your organization has several benefits, which, in the long term, will greatly outweigh the costs. Indeed, in order to sustain your Nebraska business and secure its future, focusing on leadership development is essential. Here we’ll explore four major benefits of leadership development.

What Are the Benefits of Leadership Development

1. Encourages Productivity

What motivates employees to do a good job? There are many answers, of course, but fundamentally speaking, when individuals feel respected, heard, and empowered, they will perform better. Encouraging your employees to take on more responsibilities and helping them learn new skills is a win-win for them and for your company. As they grow into leaders, they will make more significant contributions to the business and help others develop new skills as well. All of this leads to a more productive, efficient, and dynamic workplace.

2. Broadens Personal Skills

Leadership development also has implications that extend beyond your business, yet benefit it nonetheless. Learning from one’s mistakes or hardships is a major component of this training. As an individual uncovers the obstacles that have been holding them back, they learn more about themselves as well as others. These personal and interpersonal skills are highly transferable, meaning they’re useful in all aspects of life and business. You should want your company culture teeming with these self-reliant, thoughtful people, as they are invaluable to your brand.

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.

3. Stimulates Strong Decision-Making

In Nebraska and everywhere else, the business world is always changing. New technology and cultural shifts shake up the landscape on a regular basis, and if you want your business to remain steady and even thrive, it needs to be flexible and adaptable. One of the main objectives of succession planning and leadership development is to increase the capacity for decision-making and problem-solving in both individuals and teams. A good leader anticipates and embraces changes in the marketplace and within their organization and responds accordingly.

4. Cultivates Communication and Collective Interest

A successful enterprise relies on continuous collaboration. Individuals must communicate and work together to achieve collective goals. A good leader looks at the bigger picture and makes decisions based on the company’s interests, not his or her own. Building these communication skills is a major component of both leadership training and succession planning. After all, the best way to ensure the future success of an organization is for exciting leaders to pass the torch to those who clearly share their values and vision.

For businesses in Nebraska to thrive, they need strong leaders. Make leadership development a priority for your enterprise.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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Succession Planning: 4 Benefits of Leadership Development

By Leadership Resources 09/18/2019
Boy dreamer on top of ladder as symbol of individual sucess

An organization’s success and advancement depends on the growth of its people. Without strong leaders with a shared vision, you can’t expect your company to adapt, evolve, and thrive in a dynamic environment. You must invest in all of your employees, especially those who display ambition and potential for taking over leadership roles in the future. 

One of the most powerful ways to invest in your people is to provide them with a leadership development program suited to their individual needs and your company’s needs. Let’s go over four key benefits of leadership development.

How Leadership Development Helps Companies

1. Building Confidence

Not all people are natural-born leaders. This is okay, as there are plenty of candidates who do wish to rise up and take on more responsibility within your organization. However, becoming a strong leader is easier said than done. You might find that some of your potential leaders, though they want to learn and grow, lack the confidence required to take the next step. This is where leadership development training comes in handy.

With the right coaching and guidance, emerging leaders can enhance their communication skills, become more adept at planning, gain valuable hands-on experience, and more. All of these efforts will help the confidence of your potential leaders and prepare them for whatever comes next.

2. The Leadership Development Domino Effect

Investing in leadership development is a holistic effort, meaning the benefits don’t only impact those who receive training, but also spread across your entire organization. Those who receive training can go on to express and teach their newly learned skills to others, enhancing your organizational culture as a whole. This domino effect may even inspire less ambitious employees to take on new responsibilities and continue the cycle of development. 

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.

3. Encourage and Cultivate New Ideas

Stagnation is a company’s subtlest and most sinister enemy. Oftentimes, this lack of vitality stems from a lack of new leadership. Established leaders may ignore new ideas or opinions from their younger employees, however unintentionally. The status quo, while comfortable, can become restrictive. 

Bringing in some new blood can really shake up a stale organization, but only if new leaders are ready to take on new roles. A solid leadership development regiment will encourage fresh faces to flourish and share their ideas with current leaders within the organization. Better yet, with enough training, these new leaders can help implement these changes with confidence and clarity.

4. Securing Your Company’s Future

Finally, if you want your company to continue its legacy, you must prepare accordingly with a succession planning model that focuses heavily on leadership development. Succession planning refers to the process by which an organization carefully transitions from the established leadership to new leadership. Without a fresh set of prepared leaders to grab the torch, your organization will likely experience a serious crisis when the time comes. 

One of the great benefits of leadership development is that it secures your company’s future by curating strong leaders who are capable and confident enough to take over new and existing roles. For more insight into the many benefits of succession planning and leadership development, download our white paper entitled “Preparing New Leadership: A Successful  Approach to Succession Planning”.

Download A Whitepaper On Succession Planning

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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How to Create a Living Strategic Succession Plan

By Leadership Resources 09/16/2019
Chess move as symbol of great strategic planning and choices

The business world rewards both careful planning and spontaneous action. At the same time, conventional wisdom warns against both of these extremes. All of this seems contradictory. How is it that caution and risk both work to our benefit and our detriment? And how can we know which path to take?

Perhaps the solution to this conundrum lies in the balance. Planning or acting on impulse isn’t inherently good or bad, but going too far in one direction can leave you vulnerable. When it comes to promoting employees or shifting leadership roles, you need a system that integrates strategic oversight while also embracing the dynamics of your company’s landscape.

Check Out How to Create a Living Strategic Succession Plan

Focus on the Big Picture

When developing a succession plan, it’s always good to start with the big picture in mind. What’s involved in this picture? Things like your vision, mission, various long-term goals, culture, and areas of your company you wish to maintain, do away with, or improve. With this broad view in mind, you can begin to formulate the types of roles, duties, and leadership qualities required to ensure your business’ continued success. This will help you begin to target those within your organization who might be a good fit for various roles.

Help Your People Grow

No matter how developed or limited your succession plan is, one thing remains constant: you will need good leaders to take over vital roles in your company. And good leaders don’t just fall from the sky; they must be developed and prepared to take on your company’s needs. Your living, breathing succession planning model should focus prominently on leadership training so your people are prepared to take on whatever sudden challenges might arise.

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Respond to the Data

Nothing is set in stone, and your succession plan shouldn’t be either. As you work on developing leaders within your organization, you might find that your regiment isn’t as effective or practical as you had hoped. Perhaps your training is too broad or too narrow. Maybe you’re not giving the right people the right amount of attention. Whatever the case may be, pay attention to how your programs are performing. If they’re not doing well, you must adjust your succession planning strategy accordingly. This might involve bringing in different coaches, hiring new recruits, or outsourcing some of your leadership training programs.

Anticipate Changes

The most important part of ensuring a flexible and effective succession plan is to always keep Murphy’s Law in mind: anything can happen, good or bad. Work with your succession planning team to envision “What If?” scenarios that capture possible changes in your industry, company, or leadership. You don’t want to become paranoid, of course, but the more aware you are of life’s uncertainties, the better prepared you’ll be to make necessary sudden changes with tact. In short, keep calm but look ahead.

Make Routine Updates

Finally, it’s not enough to merely anticipate potential changes. You must also react to the current moment, including any recent changes in your company culture, outlook, outcome, etc. To keep your succession plan alive and well, and to stay on top of these changes, revise it once a quarter or more. What has changed in those few months? What’s working? What’s not? And what will set up your organization for success in the short-term and the long-term?

Opportunity lies somewhere between chaos and order. Your succession plan should be thorough and strong, but also elastic enough to adapt to changes in your organization and the world at large. By finding this balance, you can maintain a steady flow of competent leaders who will bring your business into a bright future.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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Succession Planning: Promoting Team Unity Under New Leadership

By Leadership Resources 08/14/2019
Leadership success, hands with red hearth

Businesses that stand the test of time will eventually face the proverbial passing of the torch. Those who have lead the organization for a long time and wish to move on to retirement or other ventures must find the proper candidate to take over their role. This transfer of leadership roles is known as succession. And while succession implies a continuation of the company, it also implies change, which can frighten staff members, especially those directly under the wing of the leader who is leaving.

Current and upcoming leaders must find ways to unite their teams in order to calm these fears and prepare for these changes. Proper succession planning shouldn’t just fill vacant roles with the right people, then, but also put everyone within the organization on the same page. Here we’ll examine a few key ways to promote team unity under new leadership.

How to Promote Team Unity as a New Leader

Reinstate Vision

Every leader, even if they’re occupying the same role at different times, has their own unique leadership style and idiosyncrasies that inform their decision-making. However, above all else, leaders should serve the needs of their organization and their people. This means, regardless of their personal traits, leaders must always keep the company’s greater vision in mind. Under the supervision of their leaders, team members must also work toward this common purpose.

In other words, the company’s vision supersedes the leader and the team, operating as a unifying force in and of itself. No matter who is currently at the helm, the ship is headed in the direction of this vision. By reinforcing and adhering to the company’s vision, new leaders can promote and maintain team unity and the overall organizational culture.

Transition Gradually

Even the most open-minded people struggle with change, especially when it’s abrupt. Among the several benefits of succession planning, the buffer it creates between the old and the new is perhaps the most important. Team members should have the opportunity to get to know their newly appointed leader over a period of time in order to get comfortable with this shift.

Fortunately, it’s likely that most staff members will already know this person, as many succession plans promote someone already within the organization. That said, the change in roles can still throw people for a loop, so the more time everyone has to get used to the new situation, the better. It benefits both the new leader and the team to have several weeks (if possible) where the current leader and upcoming leader work side by side.

Create Team Buy-In

Whenever a new idea comes about, creating team buy-in is a major step in furthering its development. The same goes for a change in leadership. While in most cases the team itself won’t have a say in succession planning issues, they should at least be allowed to offer feedback and advice to their upcoming leader. By empowering the team in this way, individuals within the team will feel more connected to one another, establishing unity and trust.

Change is difficult, but it’s necessary for a business to go on, thrive, and adapt to a dynamic world. During a shift in leadership, however, the current team might begin to fracture and waver. This is why every succession planning model should include measures for promoting team unity during this transition. For deeper insights into succession planning and how to keep your company together during a leadership transfer, download our white paper: “Preparing New Leadership: A Successful  Approach to Succession Planning.”

Download A Whitepaper On Succession Planning

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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Preparing the Next Leadership Team for Succession

By Leadership Resources 04/13/2019
Leadership Resources Preparing The Next Leadership Team for Succession

In the business world, you’ll find many passionate leaders who seem unlikely to ever leave the company. But our time here is limited, and life has a way of throwing curveballs at us whether we like them or not. It’s simply a fact that if you own a business, one day you and your fellow leaders will have to leave it, whether due to age, health concerns, or personal reasons. Of course, just because you’ll eventually exit the company doesn’t mean the enterprise should shut down too. If you want your business’ legacy to thrive, you’ll have to focus your efforts on succession planning.

What You Need to Know About Succession Planning

What is Succession Planning?

Right now, you may be asking yourself, “what is succession planning?” Simply put, succession planning is how a company secures its future by hiring, promoting, and/or training individuals to take on leadership roles as current leaders leave the enterprise. You might think of it as a ceremonial passing of the torch. As one team leaves, a new team steps in to carry on the business’ mission. Without proper succession planning, a business will struggle to continue its operation, as there will be no one available or remotely prepared to take on these vital leadership roles.

How Do Companies Develop Succession Plans?

The importance of succession planning should be abundantly clear. However, successfully crafting and implementing a succession planning strategy is a different story altogether. Every company differs in size, scope, location, and potential leadership candidates, meaning each organization must create a plan that suits its individual needs. Still, there are certain general guidelines every business should follow when forming a strategy for succession planning.

Start Early

The sooner you consider your exit strategy, the better. You won’t be shipping off tomorrow, of course, but by being ahead of the curve you can outline a plan for how to go about finding optimal replacements. This head start also allows you to start focusing on the leadership development of your current staff members. It takes time to identify the right candidates, let alone train and evaluate them thoroughly enough for the new role. By starting early, you have more time to ensure the right people are on board.

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.

Clearly Identify Roles, Duties, and Vision

One of the major challenges in succession planning is knowing and clearly communicating what roles and duties need to be fulfilled and how they will help steer the company into the future. If you started the business, you and your partners might know these things inherently. But when it’s time to bring new blood into the fold, you need to flex your leadership communication skills to get everyone on the same page. You might start including potential candidates in more closed-door meetings to help them gain insight into the company’s operations, for instance.

Consider the Plan When Hiring

If you already have a solid team, you’ll have an easier time finding the right people to take over in your absence. However, you’ll likely have to hire some new faces every now and then. With a solid succession planning model, you can hire new recruits with this template in mind. In other words, you’ll be able to hone in on specific traits and leadership qualities present in high-quality employees. Your succession plan should inform every hiring decision you make so you don’t waste any time finding and training the best people for the role.

When your business is growing, the last thing you might think about is leaving. However, failing to consider an exit strategy is a mistake that may cost the legacy of your organization. With proper succession planning, you can develop leaders within the enterprise and ensure the continued development of your business.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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What do I do when a star employee leaves the company?

By Boyd Ober 06/26/2015

It’s no secret that people are one of the most valuable assets for a growing organization. That makes employee retention a key concern for executives. After all, individual talents, skills, and time are leveraged by a company to achieve results. Spend any time online and you’ll see business outlets and media sites sharing a number of facts and statistics about hiring and retaining skilled employees:

Company leaders put a lot of effort into the recruitment process. And we hope that our recruitment strategies are just as effective.

But, the truth is – employees have their own personal goals and ambitions, and despite our best efforts, they may choose to pursue outside opportunities. What do you do when this happens?

Oh no! One of my star employees just announced his resignation!

In this situation, the first step is to take a deep breath.

“It’s important to not over-react,” says Patty Marmie, coach and facilitator at Leadership Resources. “If the news came as a surprise, you may experience an ‘amygdala hijack,’ with your reptilian brain jumping in with the first thing that comes to mind. Take a step back and process a bit before you respond.”

As Patty suggests, it’s important to seek the “why” behind the decision. Ask questions to find out why the star is leaving. Whether they are pursuing a higher level of responsibility, tackling new challenges, or seeking a change of pace, you’ll want to know the reasons for their departure. The intent behind these questions is not to convince him or her to stay, but to learn how you can be proactive in keeping employees instead of reacting when they leave.

Keep in mind that not all exits are negative. Even though this person was a star employee, the opening within the company may provide an opportunity for others to step up and demonstrate leadership skills they’ve gained through development and individual coaching.

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.Should I still invest in my employees? What if those I invest in end up leaving the company as well?

This is where a great sports analogy comes in – the classic case of “playing not to lose” rather than playing to win. Coach Patty Marmie says that it is our responsibility as leaders to develop the people around us.  Successful, growing organizations develop their emerging leaders and make a positive impact on the culture.  Development of leaders is a win-win for individuals and organizations.

A negative or hesitant attitude toward employee development, based on the fear that they may exit the company one day, is damaging to company culture and individual performance. Perhaps you’ve seen this humorous, yet thought-provoking image that often pops up on social networks:

Invest in Employee Retention
CFO: What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us? CEO: What happens if we don’t, and they stay?

Instead of letting this fear paralyze the development plan, have a strategic conversation with each individual at your organization to discover his or her strengths, goals, ambitions, and dreams. You may discover that your organization is an excellent five to ten-year stint on the journey to an individual’s ultimate destination. If done correctly, the years they spend with you will generate far more ROI than you initially invested. Plus, the employee will emerge a better leader, with more confidence and willingness to serve as a referral source for future employees and clients.

How do I fill the opening for this star employee’s position?

Two words: Succession plan.

If the employee is truly a star within the organization, there needs to be a strategic process surrounding the promotion or department of this individual. Develop a cross-training program in your organization so success does not depend on a single individual but the team as a whole. Identify strengths and talents within the organization that could easily adapt, move up, or transfer to blossom into a new leader in this area.

A general housekeeping note – make sure there is documentation for all procedures. Check on this regularly. You don’t want a star employee to hold all the processes in her mind, only to take them with her when she goes!

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