How One Company Got 100% of its People Dedicated to Learning

September 9, 2016

Most organizations would consider it a success to get one-quarter of their employees participating in their learning program, as they know that helps retention, engagement and builds a strong pipeline of talent.

Well, the Texas-based Pegasus Logistics Group has that number beat by four-fold: 100 percent of its employees participate in their learning program.

How?

A simple form. Specifically, an IDP (Individual Development Plan) worksheet, where employees write down where they want their career to go, and commit to learning the skills needed to get there.

The reason for the worksheet is to show that Pegasus cares as much about their employees’ development as the bottom line, Pegasus Learning and Development Head Candice Gouge said. The goal is to keep people inspired, as the worksheet provides each employee with a path to grow their career within the company.

“We ask a lot of our people,” Gouge said. “They work really, really hard. And we want to invest in them.”

So far, it’s working. Nine months in, 100 percent of the Pegasus workforce remains involved in Pegasus’s learning program, thanks largely to the IDP worksheet, and both the employees and the company are seeing the benefits from that.

How the IDP worksheet works

In the fall of 2015, the president of Pegasus Logistics came across the idea of an IDP worksheet. Inspired, he asked Gouge to have all employees fill out their own IDP worksheet in January, to inspire them to learn throughout all of 2016.

Facing a tight deadline, Gouge got to work. After doing some Google research and trusting her own intuition, she created her own IDP worksheet. The form has four sections – self-assessment, leader assessment, a learning plan and results.

Here’s what’s contained in each section, and who fills it out:

  • Self-assessment: The employee lists their desired future position and their current skill level. Then, they list what they need to learn to be qualified for their desired position.

  • Leader Assessment: The employee’s manager lists the employee’s current strengths and the areas of opportunity for learning and growth.

  • The learning plan: The employee and their manager fill this section out together at the beginning of the year. Together, they list out learning goals (i.e. skills the employee wants to learn, like “Mastering Excel” or “Presenting Better”), how the employee plans to learn that skill (options include coaching, mentoring, cross-training and elearning) and the date the employee expects to learn that skill.

  • Results: The manager and the employee fill this section out together during the mid-year review. Here, the two give an update on the employee’s progress on his or her learning goals.

Originally, Gouge had employees and managers discuss the IDP worksheet in January and then again in June, for mid-year reviews. However, Gouge realized that wasn’t enough, so now the IDP worksheet is discussed during each biweekly manager-employee one-on-one meeting.

All employees are required to fill out the IPD worksheet. However, Gouge stressed it isn’t tied to the employee’s performance reviews. Instead, the IDP worksheet is about the employee’s own personal development.

The different learning options available at Pegasus

The IDP worksheet is only effective if the company has learning options in place to teach the skills listed in the worksheet. At Pegasus, there are four learning options.

They are:

  • Cross-training: For four hours every other week, employees at Pegasus can work in another department to learn new skills. So, for example, a warehouse worker could spend four hours in the office, learning Microsoft Excel.
  • Lynda.com: Pegasus is a Lynda.com customer and employees can take Lynda.com courses to achieve their learning goals. Pegasus even has a computer lab at the office where people can take Lynda.com courses during their workday.
  • Mentoring: Say a person in the company wants to move into sales management, for example. The obvious mentor in that case would be an outstanding sales manager at Pegasus. The mentor will give advice to the mentee and help them gain the knowledge they need to move into management.
  • Coaching: Gouge herself is a leadership coach and currently works with six employees. If someone wants a coach, they are assigned to her, and she’ll coach them toward their goal.
How the IDP worksheet has been received

Initially, managers were slightly concerned about the new IDP worksheet process, and the extra work that entailed, Gouge said. However, employees were overwhelmingly supportive of it, and continue to be so.

Since it’s been implemented, morale has increased at Pegasus, and people are far more serious about learning. For example, people are spending time in the computer lab taking Lynda.com courses, and more are taking part in the cross-training Pegasus offers, Gouge said.

That learning has helped the business. It has taught Pegasus employees new skills and has kept them invigorated, both of which improve performance, Gouge said.

But, bigger than that, Gouge and the Pegasus leadership team believe the Pegasus culture gives them an edge over their competitors. By investing in their employees and creating a great work environment, it helps them attract, retain and inspire the great talent they need to win. And the IDP worksheet and the positive employee response to it has only furthered that effort.

“Our number-one asset is our people,” Gouge said. “If we take care of them, they’ll take care of the business.”

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