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Developing and growing talent is an area that’s close to my heart.

At Servest, we spend a lot of time talking about talent management; debating how we can find, nurture and retain the individuals that will essentially better our business. For us, it’s not about tick boxes or ‘processes for processes sake’. It’s about identifying the people that will make a positive difference to the Group – and you can only do that by looking and, ultimately, “seeing” who’s out there, and by having those candid conversations.

As a business, you have a responsibility to offer people a progression path so, whenever possible, you should seek to promote from within. What’s more, 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 staff with the tools that will help them fulfil their potential. People need a proper sense of what it means to belong to a company if you want to keep them; and I think that can only be achieved if you look to promote internally.

That being said, it’s important that there is also an influx of fresh blood to avoid creating an unintentional homogenous culture. If you only ever recruit from within, then you’re inadvertently restricting yourself in the war for talent and you may miss out on the wild cards that exist on the outside! People that come from outside an organisation often bring with them different ideas, or insight from different industries – and this can be very valuable to a business. In order to grow as an organisation, you have to look both inside and outside for new ways of thinking, working and generating inspiration. People will always surprise you with what they know – it’s about tapping into that, regardless of where they come from.

This is how we approach the recruitment process for our Future Leader programme. Our first intake in 2015 included a selection of those who were promoted internally and those who were selected from the graduate pool. The two sets of people combined have proven to be very powerful because each brings something very different to the party. As a result, we have an amazingly talented team of future leaders.

When your offering is built around people, it’s absolutely crucial that you support individuals, in all stages of their career development. This ensures that you have the skills necessary to run the business as and when workforce shifts occur. At every level of an organisation, you need to have people ready to step into other people’s shoes… or else your business will come to a grinding halt. Succession planning is extremely important. If you don’t pay attention to this particular area, then there will be an inevitable void when people leave.

Managerial success is often quantified by the quality of the people coming up from underneath the managers in question. The senior managers at Servest, and the supervisors across the divisions and central functions, actively question how they can give their staff more access to development. A lot of people at the top of our organisation have grown up through the business. Nurturing internal talent has become embedded within the Servest culture. Subsequently, a lot of people at the top of our organisation have grown up through the business.

Our future leaders never stop surprising us. The programme has been designed to open their eyes to all areas of the business and, as such, they become very well-rounded individuals. The thing I get most excited about is hearing that, after just a few months of starting the programme, these individuals have contributed towards a significant return on investment. Between them, they run procurement and resource planning projects that actively save the business money. In short, these individuals have made a difference to the business and we’ve seen a real return. This can only be because we’ve invested in them, and supported them along their journey. As such, they are passionate about giving whatever they can back to the business. In many ways, our future leaders are our window into the rest of the business – they’re the shining stars.