Conducting human resource planning ahead of time will pay off as your business grows. Even if you don't need new leadership now, remember that if your business is growing, your need for managers will also expand. And while you could always hire an outside manager, those who are already with you will have a deeper understanding of the business, its goals and how to reach them. If you start investing in your most promising current employees now, you'll begin to develop the pipeline of future leadership that you need to fuel business growth.

Here are five ways to start preparing leaders.

Recognize Good Employees

Pay attention to which employees are doing a good job and taking proactive steps to help the business achieve its goals. When an employee performs well, say thank you and recognize their work. Doing so will build employee satisfaction, making it more likely that your best people will stick around. And it will help future leaders understand the importance of showing appreciation to their direct reports.

Identify Strengths and Weaknesses in Potential Leaders

Consider having employees take a strengths test, which will reveal the areas where each employee is particularly gifted as well as the areas that need some extra attention. While your own personal assessment of employees' work and interpersonal relationships is certainly important, using an objective assessment may allow you to uncover unknown strengths that could be beneficial in the business.

Establish Career Pathways

Take the time to understand your employees' career goals and the roles they'd like to grow into. Then visualize your business growth and identify all the roles you expect to see created as your business develops. Create a "dream" organizational chart to show the types of roles your business will need in the future, with the succession paths to reach those roles.

Provide Training and Development Opportunities

Everyone needs continual growth and development in order to move forward, so don't get so caught up in the day-to-day business that you neglect training and development. Offer training opportunities and allow employees to choose the subjects that matter to them and will help them proceed down their desired career paths. Those who are motivated to become leaders will use these opportunities to develop the necessary leadership skills.

Communicate Openly About Management Changes and Opportunities

Rather than allowing some employees to feel left out or confused, communicate openly about the fact that as the business grows, more leaders will be needed. Share that you are willing to work with those who are interested. Not all employees will want to be leaders or will be ready for leadership, but they should still be informed about potential changes and understand that building new leaders is important for growing the business and establishing longevity.

Because people are your business's most important asset, human resource planning is vital for ensuring future business growth. It's important to ensure that your current employees will be ready for future leadership roles and it's important to keep them satisfied and engaged for the time being — after all, employees you don't retain now can't help you later. But by adopting these five practices you'll have the right people ready and waiting when the time comes for them to begin managing or leading new divisions of your business.

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Tags: Succession Planning Human Resources Employee Development Training