Developing emerging leaders
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Developing emerging leaders

What are the big hitters in your early talent schemes?

Deciding what key training your newest recruits will need to excel in your organisation isn’t just plucked from thin air. Company values, current and future demands of the role and previous experience of what has worked well all play a part. But in this post-pandemic world are your apprentice and grad schemes adaptable to the new challenges your organisation and your newest recruits are facing?

We’ve taken a look at four areas to focus on when you’re thinking about developing emerging leaders.

1. Lead them into leadership

Your early careers talent are our leaders of tomorrow. According to the 2022 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report leadership training remains the top focus for learning and development programmes globally.

Here in the UK, the Institute of Student Employers surveyed the impact of Covid-19 on what employers want and the skills young people have. Their 2022 Student Development Survey showed that 88% of employers are actively developing leadership in early careers talent. Yet these employers rank leadership as the fifth lowest skill possessed by graduates upon entering the workplace and the sixth lowest of school/college leavers. These rankings have both fallen since the pandemic. It figures that your early talent schemes have to focus in here.

If your organisation is looking to create a pipeline to fill this managerial skill demand, then make sure you find ways for your early careers talent to develop their leadership capabilities. You don’t have to throw a multi-million pound project at them, but slowly increasing their individual and team responsibilities is important.

We’ve never felt more like we’re living in a ‘VUCA world’. Life and work (for many) is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. In order for your early careers talent to ride the waves of such changeable times, you will need to focus on giving them skills for life.

Power skills is a new(ish) term for skills in the post pandemic hybrid working world. A rebranding of sorts of the term ‘soft skills’ – because when apprentices and graduates are given the time, tools and space to learn what these skills mean for them, they will find they have the power within themselves to successfully navigate their career.

Leadership is one of the core power skills, alongside other traits that you want all good leaders to demonstrate – adaptability, communication, critical thinking and empathy (to name a few).

3. Develop your line managers

Gradconsult listed this as a key theme for retaining graduates at the end of the last decade, and we see no reason to dispute this in 2022. Line managers are key to happy young talent, ensuring that they feel supported in their new roles.

The workplace is evolving all the time and this pace of change continues to accelerate. What is now expected of new employees, what support they clearly need and what they expect in return is radically different to what it was even two years ago. To get the most from your early careers talent, and to do so in a way that supports their mental health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusivity and development requires a line-manager who can adapt to them and be aware of their needs and expectations.

4. Don’t forget about ‘offboarding’

Onboarding has changed radically for some as hybrid working becomes the norm. But even as you adapt the beginning of the process, it's important to think about the end point. How will your early careers excel post their apprenticeship or grad scheme? How will you keep them connected to your broader organisational culture? What kind of networks will they have? To develop emerging leaders, progress and succession needs as much thought as retention.

If the past two years have taught us anything, the future of work is unknown. It’s essential to stay up-to-date: are there any emerging themes in your business sector? What might be the key skills they’ll need to master? If you can pin this down, you can better prepare your early careers for the skills they will need in your organisation in the years to come. You don’t want to have to hold their hands for too long, so make sure you give them the skills and confidence to stand on their own two feet.

Free workshop: leadership

Join us in Manchester on Wednesday 30 November for a free workshop to explore what it means to develop emerging leaders. This will be an interactive morning of learning and networking for employers from across the UK.

Graduate development

Got grads? Wondering how to best to give them the skills and confidence they need to excel in the workplace? Find out more about how Outward Bound work with our graduate clients.