Last November, ReadyTalk started a new program – LeaderReady. ReadyTalk has always had programs to help managers, but this is the first time a program has focused on employees not specifically in leadership roles.
Why build a leadership program?
Leadership isn’t one of those talents many are born with. And yet, there are tricks and information to help people build those necessary skills. More
than that, it’s important companies develop their people — individual contributors or managers.
Sure it takes leadership to be a manager, but individual contributors can be leaders too. They could lead teams or projects where they need people to help them.
“[At ReadyTalk] we thought about all the resources available to managers and realized there was a gap in the development of individual contributors and high potentials,” said Caryn Auger, organizational development manager in HR at ReadyTalk. High potentials are people who could be managers one day, earmarked by their supervisors as high performers.
This isn’t the only way leaders are helped — ReadyTalk has a mentor program that pairs high performers with executives and leaders. They also have a series of training opportunities available for managers, to hone people management skills.
Mind the gap and fill it.
After meeting with a consulting firm, the LeaderReady team drew up a concrete plan that spanned 9 months. Four main installments structure the course, the latter three of which feature direct involvement from ReadyTalk’s leadership, and participants are given smaller interval experiences between them.
The first installment focuses on each employee personally. They receive a 360-review, where their direct reports, peers, and managers provide feedback on strengths and opportunities. Not only do participants learn strengths and opportunities, they can clarify their personal brand.
Participants explore how they influence others in the workplace without necessarily having a position of authority. As Caryn said, “You don’t have to be a manager to have influence.” That means improving collaboration and communication with fierce conversation techniques, and building a cohesive team organically.
3. Business acumen
This is a big one. In LeaderReady’s early developmental phase, Caryn asked leadership what would make the program a success in their eyes. The response came loud and clear, “We want them to have a better understanding of the business.” Knowing that, this became the only two-day installment in the program. The first day is partially overseen by two company leaders, guiding the participants through the ins and outs of ReadyTalk’s business and talking strategy. The second puts participants through a business simulation where they have to make quick decisions to save a struggling company.
The fourth is something like graduation, but since the program still hasn’t finished, we can’t spill the beans. All the participants know for now is that they’re in for full-day course of learning … with the athletes at the Olympic Training Center.
So … did the leadership program work?
“You know, it’s been interesting,” Caryn says. “As we get closer to the graduation ceremony and I’m trying to personalize a message for each participant, I know I can see a lot of change. A few of them have been promoted, but that wasn’t really our objective. We didn’t need or necessarily want them all to be managers, it was more about helping our individual leaders who are so valuable to the business.”
It’s hard to place any definite metrics on the success of the program when its first round still hasn’t finished. No doubt, ReadyTalk will refine the program and work to determine skills achieved.
But did they learn enough to justify an entire program? “No question — they were challenged. Oh, they had some learning,” Caryn said as she laughed.