There's no magic formula to develop and keep young talent. Despite what you've read, not all college grads expect six-figure salaries and unlimited vacation straight out of the gate. Many are prepared to work hard and advance their career within the same company -- that believes in them.
What it does take is a leader who is genuine, persistent, and proactive. In order to groom future executives, you have to be an example of the type of person you want running the company.
Hiring great talent is competitive. It's also costly, and affects every aspect of the company. From sifting through resumes to training new hires, your corporate culture always takes a hit whenever a resignation letter is sent in.
That's why developing young professionals will always return the investment. It may sound daunting, but it all comes down to basic principles of good leadership.
To turn current interns into future CEOs, try the following five strategies:
1. Ask questions.
Let's step back in time. You're a young graduate, fresh out of university and in your first 'real job'. One day, the boss schedules a meeting and takes a genuine interest in your career path and aspirations. They even want feedback on how the company operates, and how you would improve it.
Not only would you feel like you matter, but you'd also realize this company cares about your future. That's why a 20-minute conversation can equate to a 20-year employee. Why? Because you simply asked questions.
What do they like about their role? What would they change? What are they passionate about? What's their dream job?
Be prepared that their answers may change year to year, or even month to month. They're still finding their way, and everyone can relate to that. You won't know how to help them develop professionally until you find out where their interests and intentions lie.
2. Lead with transparency.
If you have critical feedback, give it. If your profits are falling, say it. This is one of the hardest parts of the job, but it comes with the title. Be upfront and honest.
Loyalty requires transparency. Remember that young staff are typically hungry to learn, improve, and grow. That's why it's important to be honest with their performance and integrate them with the company's current and future plan. Otherwise, it won't take much for them to steer another direction.
3. Trust them with new responsibilities.
Boredom can often go hand-in-hand with entry-level jobs. We all have to pay our dues, but if their daily tasks remain the same day-in and day-out, they won't be able to reach their full potential.
There are many ways leaders can shake things up and see how the employee manages. Assign them a task that you'd give to someone at a project manager level, and see what happens. Pilot projects are a great way to see how resourceful and motivated they are to succeed.
You can also ask them to job shadow. Learning how each department operates will build greater understanding, and allow your staff to see exactly what each person does to contribute to the team.
4. Bring in outside help.
You're busy. Mentoring your young talent may be something you'd love to do, but realistically, there's no way your schedule will allow it.
When your role keeps you frequent flying, it's time to call for back up. Contract a business coach that can work with your staff to clarify their vision and create individual plans to reach their goals.
5. Hold them accountable.
They may be new to their careers, but they doesn't mean you have to hold their hand. Don't be afraid of hurting their feelings, or make excuses for them because they're young. They're adults, so treat them as such.
If their performance is lacking, revert back to asking questions and find out what's happening. Maybe they're dealing with personal issues at home, or simply don't have enough direction from their manager. Get to the root of the problem and give them confidence to improve.