Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
March 28, 2012
Four years ago, Brady Corp. launched two rotational programs: a finance management program and a research and development leadership development program. Following their successful implementation, the company also is planning to start up a sales development program for its Americas region this spring.
Each of these programs supports Brady Corp.’s mission “to identify and protect premises, products, and people.”
“For this mission statement to be successful, we need key talent that understands Brady's culture, products, and commitment to our customers,” says Matthew Donaldson, director of corporate human resources. “Our rotational programs develop talent that will align with our mission.”
Like Brady Corp., Fifth Third Bank has multiple rotational programs centered on leadership development. It launched information technology and operations programs in 2005, and since has added leadership development programs in audit, commercial, consumer, finance and accounting, and investment advisers.
“In the beginning, we developed the programs because we needed talent quickly in certain areas,” says Julie Fite, vice president and senior leadership development manager. “Today, our programs focus more on developing a pipeline of leaders for our organization. We look at the employees in our programs holistically. We’re not looking to develop just one skill, but multiple skills, including leadership.”
To market their programs, Brady Corp. and Fifth Third Bank participate in information sessions, classroom presentations, career fairs, and interview days at their target schools. Brady also strengthens its strategic partnerships with universities via programs that benefit the community sponsored by the Brady Corporation Foundation.
“We stress that in each program there will be different assignments that will challenge participants,” Donaldson says. “This will allow them to understand what they excel at and where their passion is. We also stress relationship development and meeting people outside of their functions to help build their networks as they graduate from our programs.”
Another selling point of the programs is the high-touch opportunities program participants have to interact with Brady’s and Fifth Third’s leaders. Participants regularly interact with leaders during their rotations and mentoring activities, and meet a diverse group of internal talent that helps teach them about the business and culture.
While Fifth Third Bank’s programs span two years, Brady Corp.’s can last up to three years. Each rotation can last four to 12 months, depending on an employee’s specific area. During both organizations’ programs, participants go through a series of training sessions that relate to a business line. After each rotation, participants are assessed.
“The performance and career review is Brady's process of motivating employees by aligning the individual employee's strengths, opportunities, and efforts with the organization’s goals, values, and objectives,” Donaldson explains. “An assessment is achieved by establishing clear expectations and providing regular feedback and coaching on results.”
Says Jen Breo, assistant vice president and university relations manager for Fifth Third Bank, “After each rotation, we conduct a process for performance management. It’s a critical element because we provide timely feedback, and identify the employees’ strengths and the areas of opportunity before they begin the next rotation.”
Fifth Third Bank and Brady Corp. also solicit feedback and insight from the employee during the process. That, of course, is important for gauging the programs’ effectiveness.
Results in other areas show the programs’ impact. Donaldson says that Brady has seen a 98 percent retention rate while new hires are in one of the company’s rotation programs, and the two-year retention rate after completion of a program has been 100 percent.
“Another area in which we’re seeing a positive impact is in employees that graduate from our programs and go into leadership positions,” he says. “We just conducted our company's organization talent review and we are starting to see the talent from our programs become key successors to various leadership positions in our company.”
For others with or considering rotational programs, Donaldson and Breo offer some recommendations. First, start from the inside and work your way out.
“Make sure you do not jump to scheduling campus interviews with students, but take time to develop your vision of the program, how you plan to execute the program, the value proposition for the student and your company, and what the key performance indicators will be for the program,” Donaldson advises. “As you want to recruit the best talent, ensure that you are also matching these students up with the best talent from your company when it comes to rotational program ownership and mentoring.”
Adds Breo, “You have to have passion for your program from your organization’s leaders or it will not work. They need to support and be involved in the programs. Of course there are funding pieces they control that are critical, but leaders also need to give their time, insight, perspective, recognition, and feedback.”
Done right, the benefits for employer and employee can be mutual and substantial.
“We give students an opportunity to take an area they have interest in, expand their knowledge at the university level, and learn about a great company with solid values,” Donaldson says. “At the same time, Brady receives an opportunity to develop talent for future opportunities and we also have a chance to learn from new hires. We continue to be amazed at the level of talent that comes in from our targeted universities each year.”
Fite notes: “New hires in our leadership programs get mentorship, professional networking, leadership and professional development, team building, and community involvement much earlier and much deeper than do our other hires outside these programs. Program participants get to see the variety and scope of our work, and determine exactly where they feel their best long-term fit is. In the end, that’s what’s best for us, too.”