Training the Next Generation of Supply Chain Leaders

Ruan focuses on recruiting and training to ensure its supply chain's competitive advantage


That being said, the recruits remain on the training budget until they receive their assignment as a terminal manager. Mulvenna says that this arrangement allows him to have a greater degree of management over the recruits' release into the field, since some may take as long as six months to get trained, while others may complete their critical task list within four months. "We don't want to put them into a situation that they might not be ready for," Mulvenna explains. "We want to set them up for success."

20-70-10

The gauge of the long-term success of Ruan's recruitment and training is the company's own performance over time, its ability to grow the business while maintaining customer service levels, and both customer and employee retention rates. Mulvenna has been running the program for only about three years, but he says that he has seen at least anecdotal evidence that it is paying off in the form of positive feedback from customers that have been impressed with the quality and competency of the recruits that have gone through the program. In addition, the program has helped Ruan to build a network of management-level interconnections throughout the company as mentors and mentored recruits move across and up through the company, helping to tie the organization more closely together as an enterprise. And regional vice presidents have been able to tap into the pool of recruited talent to assume management positions within businesses that Ruan has acquired, helping to spread Ruan's culture to these organizations more quickly than might otherwise have been possible.

In summarizing the impact of the program, Mulvenna refers to Jack Welch's 20-70-10 maxim — that 20 percent of your staff are likely to be the future leaders of the organization, 70 percent are the necessary employees who make the machine run, and 10 percent need to be "managed out" of the business. The program at Ruan is aimed at cultivating the 20 percent and growing it over time, with a focus, first and foremost, on recognizing and nurturing leadership. "My perspective, coming out of the military, is that leadership is what makes things happen," Mulvenna concludes. "There's equipment and competent people that understand how to make that equipment work, but all of that requires the oversight of competent leaders who can bring it all together."

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