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What do Successful Career and Leadership Programs Look Like?

Leadership and career development programs can be very beneficial to companies. To start, they are excellent recruiting tools. Prospective employees are always interested in career advancement, enhancing their skills, and maximizing their earning potential. That may be why nearly 16% of organizations have been increasing their professional and career development programs, per the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2017 Employee Benefits Report.

These programs benefit more than just the employees. They help employers to increase their bench strength, create a leadership pipeline, and ensure that their team always has someone with the skills necessary to take advantage of any new business opportunities. “The goal is to help our employees become better workers and to equip them with the skills they need to manage themselves and their teams,” Tiff Poppa, senior manager of employee experience at Bonobos, an e-commerce-driven apparel company, told But these kind of development programs can vary widely. What do they look like in practice?

Homegrown Programs

Many organizations with strong HR departments incorporate leadership development from the first day of employment, by including skills development and managerial courses in their onboarding processes and new hire training. Then, some employers will offer ongoing, instructor-led programs focusing on specific skills. Bonobos, for example, offers “Managing for Success” to teach management skills, “Fit for Success” to teach performance management, and more. Many organizations also offer online educational resources that can include self-paced learning modules and courses.

Academic Programs

Other employers may work with academic institutions. AT&T partnered with Georgia Tech to create an Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMS CS) degree. Some schools also offer for-profit leadership development programs targeted to employers and will send faculty to the employer’s location to teach workers. Or, employers may pay tuition for their workers to take anything from individual university courses up to pursuing a full degree program, like a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

On-the-Job Training Programs

Not all leadership development programs rely exclusively or primarily on classroom-type learning. Some programs enable select employees to “rotate” through an organization. That gives them exposure to working in different areas, often paired with mentors. According to The Standard Social Innovation Review, “hands-on experience, supported by formal and informal coaching and mentoring, is the best leadership teacher”. Specifically, the center advocates a leadership development model comprised of 70 percent on-the-job learning (or stretch assignments), 20 percent coaching and mentoring, and 10 percent formal training.”

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.