Hitting the Rest of Our Goals
While you are selling yourself through constant campaigning, you must also be looking ahead. Launching our initial 300 courses before the project had official approval bought our team time, but we still had much to do. We had to achieve the rest of our Year One goals, which included launching the learning councils and establishing the rest of our curriculum-design process. We also had to get to work on our Year Two goals, which promised to be far more challenging because they involved a great deal of custom content development.
Team members continued to tweak the learning-management system until it produced the style of reports needed to accurately track usage throughout the company. The final configuration of our learning-management system now produces reports that give us telling overviews of who is using which courses and with what degree of success. It allows us to pinpoint offices or departments that aren't taking full advantage of our system so that we know who needs extra prodding or a refresher course on how to use e-learning.
Our team built and populated nineteen resource rooms where employees could go to take training away from their desks. Before the rooms could be outfitted, we needed management support, so we went to the targeted offices and asked those managers to dedicate space that our team would fill with computers and software utilizing our own budget. We didn't ask them to invest any money to get the room equipped, so it was an easy sell. Most offices had vacant or dedicated training space that just needed to be updated with new technology.
Team members also spent much of that time educating employees about the value of the resource rooms. Many of them wouldn't have the freedom to take training at their desks because of the culture and attitude in the workplace. Managers had inflexible attitudes toward what they perceived as nonwork activities, so the employees had to get training away from their desks if they were to get it at all. The resource rooms provided people a safe haven, but at the same time we started chipping away at the stringent work- ethic mentality . The goal was to demonstrate to management the value of employees learning at their desks. The most powerful impact to that belief system came through some of the compliance training requirements that were rolled out. Being able to meet compliance requirements without having to leave the office was an attractive lure and has since become culturally acceptable ”actually preferred ”by many managers who used to denigrate the idea of training at the desktop. They are beginning to see the benefits of the employees taking these required courses in the work environment, and this change in attitude can lead to other forms of training being viewed as acceptable.
During this time, the initial learning councils were chartered. Managers were nominated by division vice presidents , and day-long charter meetings were scheduled. These kick-off sessions were designed to draw council members together into high-performing work teams . A PEG consultant facilitated the initial meetings, along with a dedicated learning consultant who also was co- chair of that particular council.
Each team came together for two half-day sessions in which they defined the vision and structure of the learning council, laid out the goals, and established rules for communication. For team development, Chris Butler also conducted an organizational reflection exercise called On the Table, Under the Table, and Above the Table. He presented each team with a picture of a table. On the table were things like a clock, phone, and books; under it were spiders and cobwebs; and above it were the sky and sun. He asked them each to draw their own picture. The items on the table represented the pressing issues they faced at Rockwell Collins in the current environment; the items under the table represented the issues from the past that were very important but that no one ever talked about; and the items above the table represented their vision for the future.
This simple exercise produced insightful results and led to revealing conversations about the cultural and environmental problems that weren't being addressed at Rockwell Collins. Once Butler and his team knew what the issues were, they had a clearer understanding of what they needed to deal with in order to achieve their future goals.
The managers took on their roles ”sometimes grudgingly, and with the guidance of their learning consultants ”and began meeting monthly to define the core competencies of their units or functions and the skill gaps that required training solutions. Soon they began to coalesce as teams, and even the few obstinate groups became just as enthusiastic as the other teams.