Developing your people: how to ensure your wide team has the clarity and skill to deliver your plan

Developing your people: how to ensure your wider team has the clarity and skills to deliver your plan

Creating a future-ready business with the skills, resources and structure to support sustainable growth in the long term relies on the successful combination of numerous factors. Leadership development is a big part of that, but there is a broader need for talent development throughout an organisation to ensure that you are not only preparing the business leaders of the future – you are also giving every person in your business the best chance of success, by properly equipping your upcoming and middle managers to excel in their management roles.

Developing your managers is a vital component for the future success potential of your business, so it is critical to ensure that there is sufficient focus on training and development for the wider team – not just senior managers.

Continuing professional development has been proven to improve not just performance, but engagement, motivation and productivity. When people feel invested in and valued, it makes sense that their performance will be positively impacted. But focusing solely on professional training can sometimes miss broader opportunities for personal development through coaching or mentorship, which can prove invaluable, particularly for people with the greatest potential for growth, and promotes the importance of “softer” skills such as emotional intelligence, networking, relationship-building, conflict resolution and much, much more. 

Finding the right mix for your business 

There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to developing people. A blend of approaches is usually best, but the specific make-up of that solution will vary from business to business, and from person to person. Many subscribe to the 70:20:10 rule for example, suggesting that 70% of learning should be through on-the-job learning and challenges, 20% through developmental relationships such as coaching or mentoring, and just 10% on specific, course or classroom-based learning.  

Developing talent in-house 

Recruitment is an expensive business. The more you can nurture in-house talent and develop your people for the future, the more cost-effective it will be. Potential is hard to quantify, but when robust development frameworks are in place, you stand a much better chance of helping your people progress, keeping that talent and investment inside your business.  

Ensuring future leadership capacity  

An important function of good leadership is planning ahead for the future of the business and ensuring that the leaders of tomorrow are being prepared to take over when the time is right. 

One way to plan for this is to introduce a Future Leaders Programme, as outlined in our recent article on succession planning, which provides a framework of opportunities to develop a range of skills, mindsets and competencies required for leadership.  

While leadership is important, it is also vital to develop the wider team to optimise the skill base across the whole business and give more people the opportunity to fulfil their own potential. 

Strategic succession planning is key 

As covered in our recent article on Succession Planning, having a long-term vision and plan for your business is a key element of securing its future success. Creating this requires clear direction and a well-structured organisational design which factors in which roles will be needed in three, five- or ten-years’ time. From there, you can identify who may be a good fit for those roles in due course and identify the skills gaps and development requirements needed to enable those people to step up to those positions. Many growing businesses are family-owned and run, and this can intensify the need for excellent management training and succession planning, ensuring fair and equitable leadership alongside highly competent management to secure the future of the business.

Ten steps to ensure your team has the clarity and skill to deliver your business plan 

  1. Clarify the vision. The first step is to ensure your leadership team is aligned behind an agreed plan and agree the strategy you will take to get there.  
  2. Communicate consistently. From clarity of vision comes clarity of message. When leaders aren’t unified in their understanding of the business plan, it can create confusion and therefore dilute the message to the wider team.  
  3. Create your succession plan. Structuring the business over time to have the skills and scope to deliver your goals is essential. The who comes later – start with the structure and rest will follow. 
  4. Audit existing talent base. Assessing the skills and potential within your existing employee base will help you map where development intervention is needed. Identify the skills gaps for both short- and long-term needs and implement an ongoing development programme to address those requirements. 
  5. Encourage a growth mindset. If you want a business in which innovation and adaptability can flourish, it is essential to foster a growth mindset; a mindset which reduces fear of failure and makes challenge into opportunity. It is a key ingredient of high trust environments and can help people develop resilience and mental strength.   
  6. Empower your team to make smart decisions. Giving your team members the autonomy to make decisions within their areas of expertise shows you trust their judgment and allows them to take ownership of their work. Encourage your team to think outside the box and take calculated risks, and the freedom to explore new ideas without fear of recrimination. Take on a mentoring role by offering guidance and constructive feedback. Show that you’re committed to helping them grow, both personally and professionally, and watch them flourish. 
  7. Focus on – and model – important soft skills. Historically dismissed as “soft skills,” attributes like emotional intelligence, teamwork and enhanced communication skills are fast becoming hallmarks of strong modern leadership. These skills may come more naturally to some than to others, but they can be learned and demonstrated by your senior leadership team. Used effectively they can dramatically improve relationships, trust and productivity, creating high-capability and high-performance cultures.  
  8. Prepare your managers for people management. Often, people are promoted to management roles because of technical competency in a previous area, but that does not automatically make them good people managers. Poor people management is a major cause of high staff turnover and contributes directly to lack of engagement, absenteeism and productivity drop-off. With the right support and development plan, it is entirely possible to learn how to be a good manager, and a good leader. Having suitable development programmes in place to prepare people for people management is a critical part of investing in the future of your business, and will have wider benefits on retention, talent development and succession planning. 
  9. Monitor and re-evaluate regularly. This should be a two-way conversation; involving your people in the conversation about their development is so important, enabling you to align intention, inclination and ability more effectively. When people want to progress in a certain direction, they are much more likely to get there so taking a consultative approach is advisable. 
  10. Celebrate success. Reinforcing positive behaviours through celebration and recognition of achievement is a motivating way to let people know they’re doing a good job, which helps reiterate their role in delivering the business plan and vision. When people feel that they have an important role to play and are making a difference, they are more likely to push themselves further and continue to develop. Definitely a win:win. 

Protecting the wellbeing of your people and business long-term 

Team development is not restricted to nurturing future leaders only. Not everyone will be a leader within the business, and not everyone would want to be; but that does not mean they don’t have an important role to play, and the right to develop and fulfil their own unique potential. Every business needs a range of skills and preferences at every level in order to truly thrive; research has shown that people are often extremely motivated by being given more challenging work and increased responsibility at all levels of an organisation – not just the top tier or management.  

Supporting your entire team to develop both personally and professionally is an important part of investing in their wellbeing and future growth. When a business invests in management training and development initiatives which result in good communication frameworks, clear performance management systems, structured development pathways, empathetic leadership and valuable commercial insight, it enables a productive and motivating environment in which people can grow and flourish in the long-term. It helps you attract and retain talent, and build a productive, empowered culture to secure the future success of your business. 

If you would like to find out more about how a fractional People Director can help with training and development programmes for your wider team, please call us on 0345 646 5201 or email [email protected] – we would love to have a chat and see how we can help.

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