Virgin Media launches leadership development scheme

Virgin Media has launched a leadership development scheme in a bid to harness the best talent in the industry in a fiercely competitive market.

The telecommunications giant will assess employees using a character-strength method, where qualities such as courage, energy, a sense of responsibility, drive and ‘being true to yourself’ are identified.

Individuals will then have a 2,000-word report produced about them, to help them link their personality traits to structured development plans, coaching and mentoring.

Elisa Nardi, chief people officer at Virgin Media, said the very best leaders need to work in a place where they can express themselves and use their skills and character strengths to their fullest potential.

“This is taking development to a unique and individual level that tries to understand and make the best of you as the person you are,” she told Personnel Today.

“It’s not trying to shoehorn you into being x, y or z. It’s about recognising where you’ve got significant strengths and utilise in a collective. It’s not pigeon holing but nurturing and cherishing their individuality, whilst clearly aligning them strategically to where we want to go as a business.”

According to Nardi, the next step is to extend the character-strength approach to top level managers. She added that a new learning management system is due to be piloted in January 2010.

The firm has made 1,000 redundancies over the past 15 months as part of making operational efficiencies, and claimed the new scheme was a novel idea to help attract and retain top talent.

However, BT said Virgin’s approach was not dissimilar to its own, adding that in the early part of the decade it worked to identify the characteristics that differentiated its very best leaders to develop their leadership framework.

The phone giant said its approach included traditional leadership development programmes as well as coaching, team and personal development.

Katherine Thomas, BT’s group recruitment, talent and leadership director, said: “We have a well-embedded talent agenda. We expect that our talent will be attractive externally and anticipate some churn in the population – again though, we share with Virgin Media a strong focus around retention. In this regard, our ongoing attention to engagement levels within our talent pool gives us strong insight into the issues that could start to put us at risk and need to be addressed.”

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