I once wrote that as an entrepreneur or manager, you have 10 years to replicate yourself and to build internal capacity. You need to do so before a generational skills gap creeps up on you. In this post, I’ll teach you how to do it.

There’s a sacred triad of talent development that works for every business – Time, Money and Mission. The level of development of your business and your leadership ability, will determine which member of the triad you primarily deploy.

First, TIME. If you are limited in terms of cash-at-hand, a way to build talent is slowly, over time. So, you hire interns, youth corps members or young professionals and then train them yourself. You literally pour your life into them for years, with the hope that they will stay with your organisation.

Now, while there are psychometric tools to test for predispositions to loyalty, choosing good staff who won’t stab you in the back, requires wisdom & discernment. The same way you choose friends or a spouse, the ultimate responsibility for choosing good staff lies with you, the leader.

Once you select your staff, you must put in place a structured leadership development programme. None of that amorphous “mentoring by osmosis stuff”. There must be clear learning goals, work targets and performance reviews. Remember, you have a time frame within which to replicate yourself, so your management programme must be deliberate.

Design your own custom training programme based on experience and information from HR experts. And remember, staff will only stay if they continue to have mental, emotional and physical reasons to do so. Even good people get fed up and leave, if they do not have room to learn & grow, autonomy to lead or financial comfort after a season of delayed gratification. All of this training takes time and in the interim, you need to pick up the slack by becoming your organisation’s overall quality assurance manager. Remember, you have decades of wisdom and experience. Don’t expect your trainees to get things right immediately. Manage them.

The second member of the management development triad is MONEY.

If you have deep pockets, you may choose to shorten your timeline by buying competent talent. It will be expensive and oftentimes doesn’t come with loyalty. If you choose this route, develop redundancy. Make sure the talent pool is at least two-layers deep, so if one person leaves a unit, work continues. Also ensure you document processes, so your systems are not overly reliant on individuals. Again, money doesn’t buy loyalty. So, you need a way to build trust and to inspire allegiance. That’s where your leadership ability comes in.

If you’ve missed your 10-year talent development window, I’m sorry my friend but you’re out of time (unless you want to spend the next 5 years micromanaging minutiae). The sensible option available to you now is to buy competence with money.

The third member of the management development triad is MISSION. Churches and NGOs use this a lot to attract cheap (or free) competent labour. Essentially, when people subscribe to a higher cause, they are likely to join the organisation, often taking salary cuts to do so. Sometimes, they are willing to take equity and accept delayed gratification to help build something great.

However, in this scenario, your leadership capacity matters most. Your ability to inspire and to communicate the mission in an infectious way. Also, your personal integrity – fulfilling your promises and ensuring loyal people are well taken care of when the company finally prospers.

If you choose the mission route, be conscious of time as well. People may not blindly follow a leader forever. Sometimes their human or self-actualisation needs may move them in another direction. Other times, it could even be a conflict of vision. So, keep in close touch with your staff. Keep selling the vision and care about the lives of those who sacrifice their time and competencies to help accomplish the mission. Remember, there’s a reason people leave causes.

So, which of these three strategies do you think will work for you?

I wish you success as you develop managers.

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