Developing future leaders: Thoughts from the frontline

As 2017 approaches perhaps now is the time to start thinking about how to develop your team. Whilst you could look at one of the many complicated strategies around, a simple starting point is to do the obvious, and ask them.

In a recent survey of HR Professionals in the UK this is what they had to say when asked how businesses could best develop future HR leaders.

Their answers mainly fell into the following five areas;

1. Be diverse in your recruitment
As one respondent wrote: “Realise good HR people can come from a range of areas and qualifications, not just CIPD routes.” There’s a clear understanding that diversity of experience can only be a good thing for HR functions, but that HR leaders need to widen the net.

2. Help them to understand the business
You might complain that your HRBPs don’t understand the business, but how many structured opportunities have you given them to do so? One respondent suggests HRDs “provide opportunities to fully understand the business. This could be done throughLeading the team specialist projects/assignments”. Others ask that more junior staff are involved in strategic decision-making, planning and commercial conversations.

3. Move them out of HR
To truly understand the business, there’s nothing like actually working in it for a period, with many more junior HR professionals believing their bosses should encourage them to work outside of HR, move them around and help them find non-HR roles. But you should always have a clear plan, writes one: “If you are supporting someone’s career development with a non-HR post, have a clear plan to get them back into HR. The lack of a plan can put people off trying something different.”

4. Invest in their development
“Provide sufficient training,” one respondent writes. “I see the need for HR training is often overlooked due to the fact it’s HR that manages the training budget.” You might be generous with your L&D opportunities across the organisation more widely, but what about your own team (and yourself)?

5. Mentor them
Many of the HRDs we surveyed said having a good mentor had helped them get where they are today, so are you giving back? Those more junior HR professionals were keen to find someone to mentor them and help them increase their visibility in the business. In return (as if improving the quality of the HR talent pool as a whole wasn’t enough), one respondent suggests setting up reverse mentoring relationships as well, so more junior staff can share their skills.

It’s food for thought and our thanks to Katie Jacobs for this article.