FH Elite: A New Program to Develop Leaders from Within

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” — Jack Welch, former CEO, General Electric

Growing others is the guiding mantra behind a new career development program at Federal Heath called FH Elite. The company created the program as a better long-term solution to the recurring need to fill key management positions, which often requires extensive searches outside of the sign industry.

What is FH Elite? The two-year program is designed to grow the next generation of Federal Heath leaders by guiding  employees through an immersive education and training experience. The program will initially focus on the manufacturing section, with a select group of 4-6 skilled craftsmen being prepared for potential leadership roles in the future.   

The program will begin with an orientation at the company’s headquarters in Euless, Texas, where the group will converse with the senior management team and HR to gain insight into the entire operation. They will learn the functions of different departments and how every piece of the puzzle comes together.

Throughout the program, the group will keep gaining new insights by visiting all six of Federal Heath’s manufacturing plants to learn each plant’s process. They will also travel together to the International Sign Association’s annual show to attend educational courses, exposing them to products, ideas and processes outside our own walls. The trainees will incorporate Lean by participating in gemba walks and kaizen events. In addition, they will meet together once a month to discuss new insights, new techniques they are applying, and problem solving methods.  

Each student will have one-on-one sessions, as well. Each trainee will be mentored by a senior manager. HR will also be involved in strengthening core leadership skills, such as public speaking, written and oral communication, etc.

It’s a holistic approach to ensure the group not only understands the company as a whole, but also to advance their individual skill sets in order to maximize their ongoing growth and contributions.

Why focus on manufacturing? Basically, that’s where the need is currently felt most directly.  Given today’s challenges in recruiting for manufacturing positions, and the pool of skilled and bright team members in our own plants, it makes sense to start here. Our focus on productivity and standard processes in our plants has proven successful.  Ensuring sustainability and continuous improvement by developing leaders is key to long term success. 

What does the future hold for the first group who successfully completes the program?   Successful participants will be prepared to take on a management role in one of the plants. They comprehend who we are, what we do, and where we are going as an organization, and bring important skills to guide and influence the next generation.  

Here’s how Ryan Bailey, HR Manager defines success:

“I think what we’re trying to accomplish is to offer a full development program for individuals who have shown high potential, and get them to a point where they have been developed into a leader. We want to take their raw skills and see those turned into the ability for them to lead, empower, and influence others here at Federal Heath. I think that would be a success.”