Recent research shows that one in five CEOs come from sales and marketing backgrounds – making it critical to invest in these skills for early career talent who aspire to develop into future leaders and executives. Members of the younger generation are continuously looking for alternatives to jumping into their careers. Rotational programs expose employees to different roles and experiences to build their skills over time, which positively impacts talent performance and retention.

Today, early career rotational development programs are offered by organizations in nearly every industry and by almost all Fortune 100 companies. This includes LinkedIn’s Business Leadership Program (BLP). LinkedIn’s rotation program not only selects, hires and trains recent graduates for careers in sales but flips the classroom by ensuring that these young professionals understand what it means to be truly customer oriented. The program is approximately six months and has made an incredible impact on participants each year since its inaugural cycle in 2013. Here are three ways in which rotation programs can bring organizational value:

Developing Core Skills

The customer is at the heart of everything. When customers win; the company wins. BLP ensures that customer needs are at its core by focusing rotation placements on building critical leadership skills and competencies alongside a strong baseline knowledge of the sales cycle. This is done through rotations in the global customer operations center and talent acquisition teams which allow participants to build critical communication skills, gain a sense of the customer experience and build internal product knowledge.

One of the greatest opportunities that LinkedIn offers is giving early career talent a chance to start their career with the right foundation for supporting the customer’s needs and solving their challenges. These rotations are grounded in the development of trust, empathy and great communication skills. The program rotations also help graduates become acquainted with LinkedIn’s products and tools and understand what it’s like to walk in the customer’s shoes.

Building a Robust Network

Broadly, the experiential learning and classroom training within BLP allows program associates to engage in new challenges, master and apply skills across contexts, and broaden their perspectives. This approach is extremely effective in meeting the needs of a changing workforce, as well as establishes the next generation of leaders with critical skills. Rotation programs also offer broad exposure to the organization and demonstrate the importance of building foundational relationships early in an employee’s tenure. Rotation programs offer a wide-reaching network throughout the company that will prove valuable down the line when these early career graduates rise to management and leadership positions. 

Creating Adaptable Employees

As current worker skills become obsolete and new skill needs emerge daily, the paradigm of highly-specified job training becomes less relevant. To combat this, organizations can invest in core leadership competencies by hosting training on self-awareness, communication and resilience. These topics give recent graduates the confidence to embrace challenges in their personal and work lives. Rotation programs provide a high growth mindset mentality with an openness to foster the right habits out of the gate.

At their core, rotational development programs help develop the transferable skills needed to lead successfully in a business environment characterized by constant, rapid and unpredictable change. Teaching these skills early is paramount to creating great sales and business leaders. By focusing on these critical foundations, organizations can create opportunities for program associates to become trusted business partners rather than focusing solely on the sale.

How are you developing your future leaders?