In today's global economy, you have to use new strategies to develop the next generation of managers – managers who are adaptable and global-thinking. Tomorrow's managers will be faced with unprecedented competition from the global market and changes in the way work is accomplished. In addition, they will have more to manage and broader responsibility than ever before.
Leaders who will advance companies into the future will need broad-based skills that cross company boundaries. They will need to understand how to motivate and inspire the people who work with them. Most importantly, they will need excellent adaptive skills. There are five keys to developing managers with excellent adaptive skills.
1. Move the manager around.
Interviews with top 120 leaders in an energy company revealed that the number one factor in their success was reported to be their exposure to a variety of experiences. And the earlier this happened in their careers, the better.
2. Give your managers responsibility.
Another strategy in developing adaptable executives is to give them responsibility. Let them succeed or fail, but give them the opportunity to learn from mistakes and successes.
3. Let your managers take risks on smaller issues first.
Growth doesn't have to be terribly painful, nor should you lay your company on the line in order for your managers to have a growth experience. Start with small assignments that are not critical to the company, and give your managers complete freedom to handle it in any way they see fit. If they fail, they grow. If they succeed, that's wonderful. Either way, you have better managers.
4. Give your managers the information they need to make decisions.
Start small, and hand over more and more as confidence develops. Give managers the information they need to make decisions when the time comes. Try to think like a beginner. What would have helped you the most?
5. Provide constant feedback.
You need to have strong, nonthreatening relationships with your managers, so they can feel comfortable when you tell them how they can improve their skills. If they trust you, they won't see this as criticism, but as an opportunity to learn. However, you must know their skills, be there to observe them in action, and have a vested interest in them in order to be an effective mentor.
Mentor your managers. Give them lots of exposure and responsibility, and train them to be adaptable. Let them take risks, share information with them, and give them constant feedback. Then you can trust the future and your company to the next generation of managers.