Effectively training employees to take on leadership roles can help take your business to the next level. But, according to a recent study published in Harvard Business Review, while many companies offer leadership development programs to top talent, these programs often receive little interest. In many cases, this is because employees see leadership development programs as too challenging or don't have time to commit to such programs.

Promoting employees to leadership roles often works out better than hiring outside leaders, as current employees already know the ins and outs of your business and have proved themselves to do great work. So how can your team get promising employees excited to participate in leadership training? Here are a few tips to get started.

1. Outline leadership training in your recruitment materials.

Engaged job seekers are looking for much more than an exchange of time for money when it comes to finding their next roles. Rather, top job seekers are interested in joining teams that align with their values and offer opportunities for both personal and professional development.

One way you can get employees excited about leadership training is by making them aware of this opportunity before they even join your team. In your job descriptions and on your career site, highlight possible career paths for various roles in your organization, and outline the leadership training and additional resources available to help employees reach their career goals.

For some job seekers, the availability of leadership training can be a deciding factor when looking for new employment. Once you initially attract quality applicants, talk about training opportunities in the interview process. If a candidate seems excited about the possibility of being a future leader at your organization, he or she will likely be a great fit for your leadership training program.

2. Set aside time for leadership training.

Your employees with the most leadership potential are likely your most productive and busy team members, so, chances are, they might let leadership training fall by the wayside if they have more pressing priorities. Rather than relying on employees to block time in their schedules for leadership training, encourage your HR or leadership team to schedule time for potential leaders.

To avoid taking too much time out of employees' days, consider hosting lunch & learns focused on leadership training or schedule quarterly meetings -- either for a half or full day -- covering a variety of leadership topics. Coming out of the training sessions, your top-performing employees will be excited and motivated to take the next step in their careers. And when a leadership role opens up, your team will be more prepared to promote qualified employees who have completed leadership training.

3. Make training resources available online.

While blocking time can help ensure employees complete training, it's also important to make leadership training resources available online. Some employees might miss an in-person training session, so your team should record all sessions and share them online, either through email or an employee intranet.

Beyond posting in-person training sessions, other resources you can make available online for future leaders can include training videos, assessments, links to relevant leadership content, and information about outside leadership development opportunities available to your team -- such as local conferences, classes, or networking events.

4. Host leadership Q&As.

According to the Harvard Business Review study, some high-potential employees hesitate to take on leadership training because they think it will be too challenging. To address these concerns, who better to answer your employees' questions than current leaders at your organization?

Consider setting up an in-person Q&A session for promising employees who might one day take on leadership roles and your current leaders. Or offer an online forum -- such as a survey or Google form where employees can submit questions to your managers and leadership team. Another option is to pair prospective leaders with a mentor on your leadership team. All of these options give your future leaders the opportunity to ask questions about what motivated your leadership team to move up the ladder, and the key challenges and opportunities of making the move.

Your top employees shouldn't overlook leadership training simply because they think it might be too challenging or don't have the time. By following these tips, you can help your best performers get excited to grow professionally with your business, take on leadership training, and eventually move into leadership roles.

Published on: Oct 18, 2018