By Michael Holland

If you’re still spending money on high potential programs, stop now and deploy your investment to a group of employees who need it more.

I do believe that some high potential development programs have proven fruitful.  But most fail in their selection process and expend an exorbitant amount of executive time and training dollars with limited ROI.

And some cause truly high potentials to smooth down their edges and throttle down their full innovation and ambition.

In my experience, there is a group of employees who have a much greater impact in the success of organizations. . . new leaders.

The statistics: on average a leader takes on their first management role around the age of 28 and receives their first management training class at the age of 42.

Every company follows the same pattern of taking a great, talented employee who is excelling within their team/department and promotes them to management.  They leave work one day as a co-worker and come in the next as the boss.

No training.  No resources.  No ramp-up time.  No role models of good leadership to mimic..

Organizations Can Choose to Do Better

Organizations that truly want to increase employee engagement, increase productivity, be an employer of choice for new hires and realize the full potential of success, should do the following two things.

  1. They should budget 20% of a new leader’s compensation to be invested in their development during the new leader’s first 12 months.
  2. They should take all that meeting time executives are spending identifying, planning for, and discussing high potentials and apply that time to the newest leaders in your organization.

Here’s what new leaders need. . .

  • Fully understand their communications style, leadership style and how to assess the styles of those they lead.
  • Techniques, tools, and education to build trusted relationships and sustain them over time.  These relationships include those with employees, peers, and those above them in the organization.
  • Practical approaches, methods and reflection behaviors for coaching employee performance.
  • Tools and approaches to revamp the way they manage time, tasks, and projects.
  • Shadow time with executives/leaders watching them coach up employees, run effective meetings, and seeing the tools they use to be productive.

It’s actually a fairly simple list.  The gap for organizations comes from either not having seasoned leaders currently in the organization who can coach-up and train-up the new leaders and/or not recognizing the value and ROI on the investment.

A final thought: Between 6 months and 12 months on the job, new leaders should go through a behavioral based 360-degree feedback survey to gain insight on how their leadership behaviors are perceived by others.  And where best to invest their energies going forward to increase their leadership impact.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • In what ways does your organization invest in new leaders?
  • In what ways have you personally invested in new leaders?
  • Grab a copy of your last 360-degree feedback survey.  Take one of your peers to lunch and ask them to review and discuss the results with you.