Being sent on a secondment is no longer merely a handy way of sidelining a manager who is past their use-by date. The placements are now seen as mutually beneficial to the company and the employee. Lucie Carrington reports
Secondments are no longer simply an expensive way of putting senior managers out to grass. They have become a key management development tool for junior, middle and senior managers.
Nor do they always involve sending someone off to work for a good cause for a couple of years and wondering if you will ever meet again.
Now there is a plethora of approaches firms can take, from the traditional long-term secondments through to short-term or day release-type schemes.
The advantages to both sides of the secondment equation are obvious - developing managers gain experience that their own organisations perhaps cannot provide. And the host organisation gets business skills it probably can’t afford.
“Many large organisations are realising that the only role models their developing managers have are the previous generation of managers. But these are not necessarily the right role models for the future of their business,” says Robert Rosenfeld, consultant at Garner Hall.
“At the same time they are keen to limit the amount of management development that goes on in the classroom and are on the lookout for more creative ways of learning.” Secondments get the thumbs up on both counts.
The Government runs a massive secondment scheme called Interchange. It is designed to provide civil servants with experience of business, and to give business people first-hand knowledge of Whitehall.
Interchange is also aimed at bringing fresh, new, business skills into government and has become a major plank of the Government’s modernising agenda.
So far nearly 4,000 Interchanges have taken place. These include long-term secondments of up to three years, shorter attachments, job shadowing, mentoring and non-executive postings.
But while it is potentially a terrific networking moment for firms, it is maybe not the best training and development opportunity.
Business in the Commu