Developing your employees for leadership roles is good business strategy. When they can think in terms of a career with your company instead of just a job, they’re more likely to stay longer and feel more loyalty. Filling key positions by promoting from within also ensures that you get capable managers that are already very familiar with your organization, mission, and processes.

Here are some approaches to transforming employees into business leaders:

Encourage Networking

Developing personal networks is important to cooperation and communication. Employees looking to pursue initiatives should be encouraged to reach out to various managers or influencers in a spirit of teamwork to get things done. Developing relationships can include mentorship programs between senior staff and promising employees. It not only helps to pass on knowledge and experience, but forms a strong working bond going forward. Good relationships with external resources, like partners or vendors, are also valuable to the company. Employees who are able to develop strong personal connections can leverage these relationships in a larger role.

Provide Cross-Training

Only 13 percent of employees feel engaged with their jobs. To prevent burnout, and to create a workforce with wider skillsets, encourage training and working in other job roles. This way, if a department like order fulfillment gets swamped, you can simply send production or office employees who already know the job to help out. Cross-training helps employees get a better overall sense of workflows and responsibilities, which are valuable traits in leadership positions.

Maintain Feedback Loops

Feedback on job performance is critical to optimizing productivity and developing potential. All job reviews should emphasize and encourage employee strengths, but focus on constructive criticism and career planning in aspects of job performance that don’t meet expectations. Instead of waiting for that yearly review, however, managers should also meet quarterly with employees one-on-one to discuss challenges, training opportunities, and career objectives.

Set Standards

Make it clear what traits you expect of good business leaders. This will set an example for both current managers and aspiring employees. Post articles that point out and illustrate characteristics like commitment, collaboration, honesty, and professionalism. Exceptional employees should also be assigned to programs like Ace-Up that will provide formal coaching in leadership skills. This ensures that your next manager has an even broader and more effective set of people skills.

By providing opportunity for advancement, you help to motivate employees to learn more and to excel in their duties. Though not all will have the qualities or opportunity to fill management positions, you’ll get both more effective leaders and better employees.

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