To support the professional growth of the business and our team, IQPC UK has successfully run an annual Management Development Programmes (MDP) for the last 10+ years. But during 2022, the business made a decision to significantly change and uplift the training on offer. In the making for some time, the newly launched MDP now has five distinct levels and is entirely outsourced to a training partner organisation. In this interview with HR Director, Ed Gumm and Managing Director, John Geenty we find out more about the drivers behind this decision and how the new programme will operate.
Why have you radically changed the format of the Management Development Programme (MDP)?
The MDP was previously a one-year course and served a great purpose for over ten years. However, the pandemic sharpened our focus on growth – both people and product. To continue our pathway of organic growth as a business we mapped out the key areas to grow our businesses, alongside the career paths and opportunities that we can provide. This enabled us to create a more nimble and flowing development pathway that could adapt to professional development and is not controlled by job function. What was born is a five-tier management development programme that can support employee growth from the newest manager, to the most senior Department Head.
We established an Introduction to Management (ITM) course three years ago to help support those who may have an interest in potentially managing in the future. Even if you are just beginning to think about your development and want to understand more about the management journey – the Introduction to Management course can help provide that. Let’s share some more detail on the levels so it makes sense:
- ITM – Designed for anyone interested in professional development, this is the gateway course to our MDP programmes. Blended learning – online and in-person
- MDP Level 1 – For those new to management and with up to a team of 4-6 reports
- MDP Level 2 – For managers who will start to manage mangers and have more than one direct team
- MDP Level 3 – Department Head level
- MDP Level 4 – Future GM and MD level
We decided to outsource the entire running and delivery of our MDP (all levels) to a key training partner organisation. This is to demonstrate our staunch commitment to continuous professional development and to ensure that we are never too insular in our approach to training and business evolution. Some sessions that are very specific to IQPC process are still done by internal leaders but having an external partner focus on tools that cover communication, feedback, leadership, authenticity, culture and personality styles, amongst others, is a massive advantage.
The main reasons for change are easy to share: GROWTH, INVESTMENT IN OUR TALENT and to CREATE MORE OPPORTUNITY.
Did the old version of MDP deliver value for the business and our employees?
100% – BUT we cannot stand still and always rely on past experience. I am immensely proud to share that 90% of our managers have been through some format of the MDP at IQPC London. This has helped to shape the opportunities we have today and the foundations for tomorrow.
However, we must be honest and say that it lacked flexibility and was geared towards new managers. This was a strength and weakness, creating gaps in professional development and on some occasions too long between any meaningful professional development training.
It also created the impression that learning critical management skills was something that could be ticked off in a year. As anyone in a management role knows – it is a continuous learning process with lessons coming at us thick and fast all the time. We needed an MDP that reflected that continuous learning process and supported it – and made sure that our most experienced leaders, as well as our new managers, were advancing in their skills. In addition, we like to be viewed as a progressive company and this investment into our people clearly demonstrates our commitment to continuous professional development.
As a leadership team you seem pretty passionate about this, why do you back this initiative so strongly?
The two most critical factors to our continued and future growth are our people and our product. The fact that we have no product without great people means that talent development is central to everything we do in the London office. From PTP’s (Phased Training Plans) for new starters to the MDP we continually focus on how we can identify, nurture, and retain top talent.
I am also a firm believer that through demonstrating a genuine interest in the development of our employees we create a much better partnership with enhanced loyalty. Loyal employees are more engaged. Engaged employees are more productive. This in turn means that we are harnessing the link between success and reward. The ROI from a strong MDP means that we can plan for future growth with confidence.
How do you select which employees will join the programme? Is it about experience or attributes? What characteristics do you look for in future leaders for IQPC?
We look with great care! Each year we ask all UK Department Directors to put forward employees who they feel would benefit from the programme. To ensure the MDP supports growth on a personal and business level we have two main criteria that guide our decisions; first the career path and IDPs that are aligned to the appropriate MDP level, plus a completed ITM course.
Alongside the Department Directors nominations, we also invite applications from our entire workforce to ensure that we are providing a fair opportunity, but also to ensure we have visibility on the aspirations of all future leaders.
As a Senior Management team, we then come together and discuss all the nominations/applications for the forthcoming year’s MDP Levels. Every single year has been oversubscribed and with a limited number of places it does make it difficult to decide. When looking at characteristics a high degree of functional capability is of course essential, but we place a much higher weighting on attitude and potential when we face a decision like this.
Unsurprisingly, a positive “can-do” attitude is essential, as is a resourceful, entrepreneurial approach; they must have the hunger and ambition, the professional desire and commitment to perform and to grow the business. They also must have a genuine interest in people and helping people grow as individuals. Management is not just about taking the next step on their career ladder – there are many pathways people can take to progress. If you want management, you must be passionate about management and about people. And you must not be in it for the glory or the reward – we want selfless managers who put their team first. They know that a good manager is judged by the quality and culture of their team first and foremost.
My view is that there is no one single leadership style that works. There is no perfect candidate, and no one is ever a complete leader/manager. What we are looking for is someone with enough positive characteristics to create an effective leadership style of their own. Have they got what it takes to create their own team culture and lead it effectively, in their own authentic way?
Finally, what advice would you give anyone looking to build their management career at IQPC?
Where to start? Firstly, you need to have clarity on how to succeed in your role, what constitutes success, what you need to do specifically, continually, and consistently to the highest possible standard. Then you need to be really disciplined and get into the habit of doing these things week in, week out, even when you have established yourself and distractions of other new and exciting activities will draw your attention. Do what works, inspect what you expect.
Secondly, invest in your people! You are a coach, more than a manager. If your team’s careers take off, so will yours; put their needs first. Focus on hiring and developing A-grade people and you will make every step of the journey 100 times easier and more successful.
And finally, innovate: do not think for a moment that last year’s standards are high enough. Technology and markets are accelerating at a staggering rate. We need to move faster still, moving with, in fact even ahead of the times, or our events will fade away; that is why this business is so fast paced and exciting to work in. I could talk all day about this, but a few concluding thoughts. Stay positive: we can find solutions to 99% of problems if we put our heads together. Be Authentic: nobody will follow a fake. Be humble. Don’t fall into the trap of only listening to your own opinion, never stop learning.