Many organizations with an aging workforce tout the need for succession planning, however, not all put it into practice. It is important not to simply hire young, inexpensive talent who are likely to move on after one year. Organizations should implement comprehensive hiring processes that will identify cultural fit as accurately as possible. This involves an extensive interview process with individuals from across the organization as well as applicable tests such as writing or computer aptitude tests. This investment is worth it up front but it does not end there. Once talent has been found and brought on board, it is incumbent on senior and mid-level management to groom those who are viewed as future leaders in the company. It cannot only be talk; there needs to be action, and sooner rather than later. The wait can cost you your valuable employee.
Having experienced this myself as a young employee in an organization, I’d offer some advice to managers.
Establish open lines of communication. This doesn’t mean a drop by every day or week to say “hi” but a scheduled, sit down half hour conversation every week or bi-monthly to check in and see how things are going, what the employee seeks to change, and where you see things going.
Act. Talk won’t go far with today’s young generation. There must be action behind it. If you offer to get him or her on a new project, make good on your word if possible. If it becomes impossible, don’t keep a secret – tell him or her as soon as you know.
Train. Even if your organization doesn’t have funds for training, set up your employee with a mentor in a role or on a team in which your employee is interested. Connect with each person along the way to see how things are going and if you can influence the employee’s work experience and help him or her reach goals.
A valued employee is a happy employee, and words are not enough. Put your praise or thoughts into action and make his or her career goals happen. You will be forever remembered and respected as a manager and perhaps your star employee will follow you to your next job.