Last week, I listed the top traits recruiters and hiring managers look for when identifying their organization’s next leaders. Now, I’d like to follow up that post by discussing why now, more than ever, businesses need to put focus on developing their leaders (if they’re not already doing so) – and what areas they should concentrate on to get the best return on their investment.
Spending money on leadership development may seem like a lot to ask during a time when budgets are already tight, but it is critical that employers invest in ways to engage and retain their leaders right now, according to Elizabeth Craig, a research fellow at the Accenture Institute for High Performance in Boston, in a recent Business Insight podcast.
Unfortunately, businesses tend to see employee training and development programs as an expense, making these programs among the first to go when companies look for ways to cut costs. On the contrary, it is these very programs – these investments – that will better position companies’ competitive standing when the economy turns around. (Need a few more reasons to invest in leaders? We got five right here.)
Because executives have been shown to leave their companies when market conditions improve and more job opportunities open up, now is the time for companies to give them a reason to stay. The best way to retain these employees, Craig says, is to provide learning and development opportunities that will not only engage your best people and compel them to stay with you, but help you better attract new talent down the road.
Based on research Craig conducted with colleagues on executive satisfaction levels (which you can read about in more depth here) companies that offer the following opportunities for executives see a higher retention rate:
- Opportunities to work on challenging tasks and to take on more responsibility.
- Opportunities to broaden their skills by exposing them to operations outside their areas of expertise, and providing training to polish their business skills.
- Opportunities to cultivate relationships with their peers, enabling them to learn from their peers and increase visibility. As a bonus for the company, it also enables them to increase their understanding and collaboration among various business units.
What steps are you taking to invest in your leaders?