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7 crucial ways to help your staff learn and grow

We asked Michaela Powell, founder and director of fast-growing education recruitment consultancy Aspire People, for her master-plan. Here's what she revealed.
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Over the last few years my firms has grown quickly and consistently. Our head office now houses 50 people and we work with schools and colleges in every local authority throughout the Midlands. Our success in maintaining our strong culture during this change is down to the development of mutual working relationships and for every employee to reach their full potential.

From day one we commit a lot of time and money into the mentoring and development of our people. 

Here are my seven crucial ways to train your team to get to the top:

1. Start as you mean to go on

From the very first day that new employees step into the company they are given a complete overview of the business and our industry with a one-week induction programme. We have spent four years crafting and adapting the programme to make it what it is today. It gives staff the ability to immerse themselves into all areas of the business; irrelevant of the job role they are taking on. A full day is dedicated to learning about our brand, values and vision, where the business has come from and where it is heading. This ensures that every employee, despite his or her role within the business, buys into and understands how to communicate the values of our brand. As a result, we know that customers will get a consistent level of service, no matter who picks up the phone.

2. Knowledge is power

We regularly run internal workshops on key themes in the education sector, including safeguarding children, vetting and compliance and agency worker regulations. Legislation relating to these areas can change in the blink of an eye, so we have to keep our finger on the pulse and make sure we are on top of any new developments. These areas of knowledge are essential to our clients, so they are essential to us. Knowledge gives our staff the power to become the best recruitment consultants in the industry.

3. Building a ‘lifelong career’

Training and development of our staff doesn’t come to a halt after their induction, it’s on-going throughout their career with Aspire People. We devise a unique training plan for each member of staff, tailored around their goals and their individual areas of expertise. For some this might be internal training, such as our 12-week plan for recruitment consultants called ‘Advantage’. This has played a crucial role in our success as it has made our recruitment consultants the best in the industry. The amount of time and money we invest in their development has been returned to us in commitment and has enabled us to retain talent in an industry renowned for having a high staff turnover.

4. Going back to school

We have several members of staff undergoing professional qualifications, varying from AAT payroll courses through to NVQs in customer service. Our head of HR & Operations completed a CIPD Masters in HR and we sponsored our head of Marketing and Communications to do a Diploma in Marketing and a Chartered Postgraduate in Marketing. Whilst we really do rate our own training and gain great feedback on it, we know that these professional qualifications are recognised more widely in the industry and can be important to clients and candidates.

5. Leading by example

I think it’s essential that in business you lead by example, so I have recently started an MSc in Leadership and Organisational Performance at Birmingham City University. It’s a work-based degree that doesn’t compromise my involvement in the company but allows me to brush up on new ideas and strategies so I can keep pushing my business forward. I would never ask or expect anything of my staff that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do myself and I think it’s important to take a step back from time-to-time to see how you can better yourself and your business.

6. Growing our own talent for tomorrow

Each year, for the last three years, we have recruited an apprentice. On top of that a number of our administrative staff are school leavers or fresh out of university. Our approach to workforce development and the quality of training we hold in-house has rewarded six of these employees, who were promoted this year out of 16 promotions in total for the business. We all have to start somewhere and we’re committed to helping them fly up the career ladder, something they know is a real possibility with us rather than a loose promise. Staff we hired at a junior level almost ten years ago comprise the formidable management team we have today.

7. The personal touch

I might be incredibly busy, more so now than ever with my new study commitments, but I make it my business to get to know my staff and spend quality time with them. There are a lot of faces in the office and I’m one of them – I sit amongst my staff instead of hiding away in an isolated office. I’m always open to talk to them about any queries they have and make sure I touch base with each and every employee regularly. Taking the time to personally mentor our sales consultants was the best move I ever made – it’s so rewarding to see them flourish right before my eyes. Some may think my deep-rooted involvement is micro-management, but I think it is mindful management. My staff know I’ll always prioritise, push and support my people.

Michaela Powell is the founder of Aspire People.

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