Monday, June 25, 2012

Grow Your Future Leaders

Can you spot the future leaders in your firm? Here are some of the characteristics of employees on the fast track to a principal position.

• They go the extra mile in everything they do.
• They don’t rush out the door at exactly 5:00 PM each day.
• They ask good questions and want to learn.
• They don’t hide under a rock when they are in trouble.
• They accept responsibility and don’t blame others.
• They connect naturally with clients.
• They respect and work well with fellow employees.
• They take an active role in their professional organizations.
• They express a desire to advance, and to be a part of the firm’s future.

When you’ve spotted those shining stars, let them know, and help them evolve into the future leaders your firm is going to need when the current generation of principals begins retiring.

Provide training and continuing education. There are hundreds of options for continued training available today, such as lunchtime seminars, online courses, books and media, and in-house and offsite trainings by professional service firms like PSMJ.

Programs should be taken in leadership training, project management, and marketing, as well as technical and other support functions. Set realistic goals, monitor progress and provide encouragement.

Pick them up when they fall down. Young staff in particular will make mistakes. With hope, they will learn from these experiences and not repeat them. Take them aside, and carefully explain where things went wrong. Review the options and solutions. Help them resolve the issue(s). Above all, assure them that they still have a job and that you expect them to grow from the error.

Give them the tools. Software, hardware, smart phones, and tablets are the tools of today. Find ways to provide them with this essential equipment, and give them appropriate training.

Provide a work environment that fosters creativity and communication. This goes for everyone in your office, but especially for your future leaders who need to be seen by others in the office as the next generation of principals. Does your office still work like the 50s and 60s where everyone is assigned a cubicle? Follow the trend of open office spaces that encourage the sharing of ideas and vibrant discussions, and have pin up surfaces and areas to relax and communicate with fellow staff members. Preparing and growing the next generation of your firm’s principals will require some new thinking on the part of management. It will take planning, and it will take some balance between billable hours and overhead hours.

Discovering and nurturing the future leaders of your firm is imperative, especially when considering Ownership and Leadership Transition Roundtable. Even if you aren't ready to start the process today, you should start planning for the inevitable now. Successful transitions typically take 10 years to accomplish… most owners wait too late to start the process and harm the realization of firm value.

PSMJ has been addressing the issue of design firm ownership transition for 34 years and is holding two Ownership and Leadership Transition Roundtables on each coast for the leaders of today's A/E/C practices just like yours – August 21-22, 2012 in Vancouver, BC and October 23-24 in Atlanta, GA. Together we'll walk through a structured, logical approach to developing practical planning tools for your firm's Ownership Transition. Click here to register now!

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