By Hae-Song Jung
When the rotational programs end, how do we find great post-program roles for associates? Rotation programs are designed to help an organization develop and maintain a robust pipeline for future leadership positions. Managing such a program, therefore, entails the careful and structured consideration of emerging talent’s rotation experiences, performance, and the talent needs of the business.
After making a sizeable investment in a leadership development program associate, will the organization see an impact the business and the organization? This is the ultimate question all development program stakeholders ask, and it is perhaps put to the test for the first time when associates start their first post-program positions.
So what goes into placing program associates after they complete their rotation programs? How do they find their best fit within the organization?
Nellie Hogler, Program Manager of Takeda’s fast-growing Commercial Leadership Development Program (CLDP), shares her experiences and best practices on how to find the best post-program roles for Takeda’s CLDP associates.
Build the Leadership Development Program’s Internal Brand
“The more the internal leaders and teams know about our program, the more they’ll know about our internal talent and our program associates’ ability to contribute to critical business needs.” At Takeda, program associates start looking for their post-program roles 1-2 months before their final rotation ends. This requires them to find and apply to internal openings in the business sectors or roles. “If the business leaders know of our commercial leadership development program, and if they’ve had exposure to our associates’ talent, it means they’re more likely to invest in developing a program associate, rather than recruit externally,” Nellie shares. As Takeda’s CLDP associates start their search for their post-program placements, they are likely to learn about internal opportunities significantly earlier through leaders in the business units and departments that already know about the Takeda CLDP brand and cohort. The program’s reputation helps ensure that associates will be able to find and succeed in the kind of strategic work they feel passionate about.
Track and measure the associates’ performance throughout their rotations against benchmarked competencies
Managing post program placements of high-performing associates v. low-performing associates can pose a major challenge. At Takeda, CLDP associates enter at the manager level, and graduate either at the Senior Manager level or Associate Director level. Takeda sets clear expectations and competencies for their Senior Manager and Associate Director levels. Determining what level the CLDP associates graduate into is straightforward because “We carefully measure associates’ performance, development, and competencies in their 3 rotations, and combine them with feedback from their managers for all 3 rotations. This detailed data on associates’ performance is calibrated against Takeda’s Senior Manager and Associate Director competencies and used to determine final CLDP associate placement.”
But what about low-performing associates? For Nellie, a well-run development program should never “catch” a low-performing associate so late into their rotations. “We give and collect consistent feedback and measure an associate’s performance regularly. Our goal is to develop them – to maximize their strengths and strengthen their areas of opportunity.” A focus on regular performance management and robust development helps to minimize the possibility of sustained low performance. Furthermore, as associates are required to apply to and interview for their post-program roles, just as external candidates would, they are measured against a consistent set of job responsibilities and competencies.
Communicate with your program associates – often and transparently
The Program Manager of an early talent development program builds a unique relationship of trust and transparency with the program associates. Nellie encourages and maintains an “open door policy” with her CLDP associates. The CLDP associates can and do feel encouraged sharing their interests, experiences, and preferences with her. The candor helps Nellie connect program associates to future post-program opportunities that would best match their interests and potential. “This helps put the associates in the driver’s seat of their careers so that they can develop in the business areas and roles they are passionate about,” Nellie shares. Maintaining this consistent intake of feedback from associates is also key to iterating and improving the rotation program long-term.
Build close relationships with the business leaders, HR Business Leaders, and Talent Acquisition
To maximize the internal mobility of rotation program associates after they complete their programs, tap into the relationships, knowledge, and expertise of three key stakeholders: leaders in the “business,” HR Business Partners, and Talent Acquisition teams. “Everyone should be working as a team,” Nellie emphasizes. The business leaders help to communicate, set, and prioritize business projects and opportunities. The HR Business Partners translate these business priorities into talent needs. The Talent Acquisition team works in lock-step with these other stakeholders to constantly detect and communicate talent needs and opportunities. Actively partnering with stakeholders maximizes the number of highly visible and strategic roles that rotation program associates can fill after they complete the programs.
To learn more about all the best practices that are used by fellow LDP professionals and practitioners, attend our virtual LDP Summit.