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Develop Your Internal Leadership Bench

multi-unit franchising people Aug 04, 2021
Develop your Internal Leadership Bench

Being able to develop a leadership bench of your future leaders is a critical skill for your business, especially if you are a multi-unit franchisee or an independent business owner with multiple locations. 

Otherwise, your growth, development, and success hit a brick wall since you’ll have no managers to oversee your operations. Not only that. If no one helps you, you won’t have the true time and financial freedom, which is the ultimate goal of having a multi-unit business. 

Luckily, following the next steps, you’ll be able to create that process within your organization. Take notes (and actions) to start building the future of your enterprise!

Step 1: Own the responsibility to develop that bench

Many franchisees and business owners complain that when they have an opening of a new store, they struggle to find a shift lead, an assistant or general manager, or even a district manager. They take time interviewing prospects to hire the best candidate, with less than 50% chance of success, based on my +30 years of experience.

Owning the responsibility of creating this leadership bench proactively and ahead of time solves this conflict. But to do that, you must take the time every day to develop your leadership bench.

Step 2: Get the word out

Let your entire organization know that you are looking for these future leaders. This communication has to be for everyone, it doesn't matter if they are managers, cashiers, or doing the dishes, because you never know who’s out there waiting for an opportunity.

Did you know that I started in this industry being a pizza delivery driver? That’s right! I took this job temporarily, I was not planning to make this a career, but the opportunities to move up kept coming up from my direct supervisors, so I took them. That’s how this ended up being the career of my life. 

Aside from being a source of recruitment, promoting from within your organization shows your personnel that you are truly committed to giving them growth opportunities. Also, that no matter where they are, you are going to help them get where they want to go. This will increase their loyalty and hard work.

Make sure that those interested know what to do to enlist, whether it’s sending an email to the human resources department, letting their direct supervisor know, or applying via your website. 

Step 3: Look for diamonds in the rough

Even if you receive applications, do the homework by yourself. Look around your organization proactively to notice the people that love what they do, that take great care and commitment, that go above and beyond.

With some guidance, support, training, coach, or whatever they need, could they be a future leader? Every time you visit your stores, have your radar on and analyze people with this perspective.

Step 4: Ask

If you identify someone with potential, approach them to see if they are interested in moving up in their careers. 

Provide a safe space for them to answer what they truly want to say, taking into account that some may be introverted and not outspoken. You might be surprised at how many people will say yes.

Step 5: Speak with the interested ones

Let the ones that raised their hands, either on their own or with a little motivation, that you’ve heard. Talk to them about the opportunity and what would it take. 

Be honest about the stages of the process and the skills that you are looking for in a perfect leader.

None of them will likely be where they need to be. But you have to let them know that there are certain things they can develop and improve upon to rise to the challenge. 

Step 6: Create a personalized development plan

Each of your candidates will have specific needs and areas of opportunity. So, the plans have to be individually designed, with a structured process to measure their performance, the things that are pending, and what they had to develop to get them ready.

You don’t have to do all the work; their direct supervisor has to be the one that creates that development plan. So, if a crew member aspires to be a shift lead, the assistant manager has to help. If a shift lead wants to become an assistant, the general manager has to participate. If a unit manager wants to grow, your district manager has to let them know exactly what they have to do to achieve that.

Step 7: Follow up

This is not something that you begin and then put away. You, or the direct supervisor, have to have touchpoints with the candidates along the process to review their progress and adjust the plan. This will show them that the organization is serious and committed to finding and developing that future leader.

Step 8: Promote them and celebrate!

Once they are ready, and those opportunities or openings happen, give them what they deserve! Share their accomplishments with the entire organization and let all know how proud and happy you are for them.

This works not only as motivation for that particular employee. It also shows their peers that growth opportunities are possible and that they can happen for them too. That's how you create inspiration and excitement in your organization.

One of the things that stop multi-unit franchises from growing faster is the lack of leadership. But if you follow these steps, you’ll accelerate the pace because you will have the leaders you need to run with you.

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  • What are the skills the future leaders of your organization must have?
  • Can you think of any employee that has those requirements?
  • If not, how can you discover the diamonds in the rough?
  • What can you do to motivate the employees that want to become leaders?