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Early CareersThe possibility of progression is a very important part of any job role and it is a key factor when firms consider ways to retain talent. In the current new-age of people orientated HR rather than policy orientated departments, business leaders are crying out for new ways to do this. HR experts are ready to respond.

I believe businesses have a responsibility to offer people a progression path. If you’re to both attract and retain talent, you need to give your employees something to get excited about – especially those who are hungry to develop their skills and excel in their career of choice. By focusing on internal learning and development, you’re equipping your employees with the tools that will help them fulfil and harness their potential, which will help the business flourish. Such L&D provisions will also ensure that people have a proper sense of what it means to belong to a company, which is essential in the quest to improve employee engagement.

Servest’s industry-renowned Future Leader scheme is a two-year programme that prepares those who are successfully selected for taking on a management role in the company. Each Future Leader spends the first nine months in our Bury St Edmunds headquarters, working through key support functions such as HR, sales, payroll, marketing and finance. They then go on to spend time in each of our main operational divisions. In addition to learning practical skills in these areas, the participants also study relevant theory relating to management techniques.

Towards the latter end of last year, the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) accredited our Future Leader programme and, subsequently, the number of applicants dramatically soared for this year’s 2016 intake. We pride ourselves on delivering the highest standards of learning and development and the ILM framework ensures there is a solid pathway of progression for those selected. At the end of the programme, each person will join the most relevant division in a management role, or look to study further qualifications if they want to join a specialist function, such as finance or HR.

This year’s recruitment process to Future Leaders was designed to be quite different to traditional graduate recruitment models. Rather than send a CV, applicants were asked to demonstrate that they possessed the natural talents required for the programme in an unconventional way. The intention behind this decision was to look at each application in an unbiased way in order to judge each candidate on his or her own merit, as opposed to education or employment history. Candidates were invited to tell us why they should become the next Future Leader – by sending in videos, presentations, documents or anything that would prove they had the imagination, originality and ‘outside of the box’ thinking required for the programme, as opposed to a standard CV.

The rigorous and yet unconventional recruitment process has ensured a high-quality intake each year, which is testament to the contribution these talented individuals have made to the business. We now have a pool of people who are able to respond to any situation in a professional way. The individuals on this programme have immediately delivered back to the business by coming up with ideas that have set Servest apart from the competition, and by generally raising our profile. The scheme demonstrates our commitment both to attracting the best people into FM and also to developing our own talented team members to ensure a strong leadership pipeline.

In general, we subscribe to the notion that the strongest divisions have the strongest succession plans. For us, managerial success is quantified by the quality of the people coming up from underneath the managers in question. The first step to successful succession planning is to get people to understand themselves so they can, in turn, understand their own development path and how to interact with others. We have recently implemented an ‘Insights Discovery’ programme, a basic profiling tool, used to help individuals determine their personality type and learning style. This involves having the candid conversations necessary to jointly figure out how managers and the individuals within their teams can work together to ensure they can get the best out of each other.

Business leaders that are keen to attract and nurture talent should not only offer a clear progression path and a variety of learning and development programmes, designed to suit an array of individuals, but they should also strive to break the mould when it comes to recruitment and succession planning initiatives. This is an exciting time to work in the people profession. Organisations are no longer obsessed by policies, regimented systems or with hitting people with their HR sticks! This means that the forward thinking organisations, that aren’t afraid of change, can start being a lot more creative in the way that they approach learning and development.