Many owners break away from the daily grind to work on other projects such as growth, branding, point of difference or even strategies to optimise profitability. This breakaway would be impossible without a solid and reliable leadership team. The leadership team’s primary role is to execute daily activities that align with the business strategy. The leadership team is the operational wedge between themselves and the day-to-day. The big question, though, is where do we find such great leaders?
Your business has a specific culture. This culture varies from the little things such as where the team sits, the autonomy in decision-making, how they learn and train, and the big items such as having an open-door policy, salary reviews, and career planning. While this culture may not be pragmatic, it exists in each business as a unique fingerprint.
When recruiting senior team members into the business from outside, you risk handing over this culture to the new person. Any credible leader coming in from outside the company will usually have their toolbox of ideas on managing and motivating a team. This toolbox is essential for the role. In my experience, the very reason you are recruiting this person is the exact reason they often don’t work out long term. As they induct themselves into the business, they start to make changes. These changes land with resistance from some of the team, and the company finds itself disjointed, varying away from its true north.
The most effective way to recruit leaders into your business is to grow them internally. Recruit them young, train them in your ways and imbed them into your culture. This plan doesn’t happen overnight. Recruiting and nurturing potential leaders takes time and patience. And most importantly, the key to retaining these team members while they learn and grow is ensuring you support them in their role. Ensuring they have a predefined career path.
When I was young, I was lucky enough to secure a rare role as a trainee with a sizeable rural firm. I started in the mailroom of their head office in Sydney. Right from the time I walked into that mailroom door, the company had mapped out my plan. As a trainee, I was to do three to six months in the mailroom. I would then take on a junior role at a large regional branch where I would spend the next twelve months learning all business faculties. After twelve months, I would transferer to a role specific to the skill of my choice. This plan would continue to unfold over the next ten years, moving onto a department head, taking leadership courses, and eventually managing a branch. My engagement with this company built on a defined path to a leadership position. This defined path is what kept me with the company for well over ten years.
Old school thinking doesn’t draw a link between career planning and property managers. Property managers are recruited, reactively, to fill a role. They tend to feel unsupported and disconnected, eventually moving on to another employer. The key to retaining potential leaders long term is to structure your business to provide a career path of learning and development for them. This career journey offers potential leaders the opportunity to take on more responsibility and increase their salary along the way. These team members often reward you by staying longer and becoming loyal to you and your business goals. They ultimately become your biggest asset.
Next time you are considering where your next leader is coming from. Look back through your team. You will most likely find what you are looking for right under your nose.