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Workforce Development: Talent Development

What is talent development?

WSDOT invests in our staff through training and other opportunities. We do this through (click through tabs below):

WSDOT employee training sessions

How do we measure WSDOT employee training sessions?

WSDOT has an automated Learning Management System (LMS) which allows us to track the number of employee training sessions. Every new employee is required to complete 8 mandatory training sessions. Employees also have training plans that establish certain requirements. This includes technical engineering training sessions. In FY2019, full-time WSDOT employees (excluding Ferries) attended an average of 11.21 training sessions each.

Progress Target
Training sessions per employee
11.21  Arrow to right  TBD Baseline status

How will we select a target?

WSDOT has established a baseline by identifying the number of employee training sessions for FY2018. We will examine the trend along with industry standards to determine a target for future measurement.

More about WSDOT employee training sessions

Why are employee training sessions important?

Offering and supporting a variety of training and other opportunities is key for employee development, positive professional growth, and succession planning. Training currently offered is comprised of technical, essential and leadership components.

How are we doing?

In fiscal year 2019, full-time WSDOT employees, excluding Ferries fleet staff, engaged in an average of 11.21 training sessions each. WSDOT is tracking this number as a baseline and will examine emerging trends to determine if action is required.

What are we working on?

WSDOT is collaborating with the Department of Enterprise Services to procure a new Learning Management System. This system is expected to provide better tracking, reporting and consistency of training. This new system will integrate with other training systems already in place, providing a better learner interface and experience.

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Practical Solutions training

How do we measure Practical Solutions training?

WSDOT tracks the number of employees who participate in our Practical Solutions training programs. Practical Solutions 101 is an overview of Practical Solutions approaches to project development. Practical Solutions 201 is the agency’s Multimodal Fundamentals training program.

Number of employees who have completed PS101
(Practical solutions approach to project development overview)

1,027 on track status icon
on track

Number of employees who have completed PS 201
(Multimodal fundamentals)

242 on track status icon
on track

Source: Practical solutions training management WSDOT.

Note: Classes for HQ and Olympic Region staff are included in the Olympic Region column.

More about Practical Solutions training

Why is Practical Solutions training a priority?

Practical Solutions training has a key role in WSDOT’s Practical Solutions implementation, because it provides consistent messaging to staff and managers, increases awareness of agency priorities and serves as a mechanism for changing the culture at WSDOT.

How are we doing?

Customer demand drives the Practical Solutions training opportunities. Training objectives are set and classes are scheduled based on regional and HQ division requests. These objectives are typically met or exceeded, and occasionally the classes are under-enrolled.

What are we working on?

The Practical Solutions Training Team maintains the core Practical Solutions courses, and revises the content based on updates to WSDOT’s Strategic Plan and learner requests for clarifications to the material. In the 2017-2019 biennium, additional courses are being developed by the Multimodal Planning, Traffic Operations and Development divisions to provide discipline-specific content within the Practical Solutions training program. Additionally, the Practical Solutions Training Team is developing an eLearning module that will benefit WSDOT staff who do not work directly with project development, as well as external stakeholders who are looking for a Practical Solutions summary.

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Learn Forward

What is Learn Forward?

Learn Forward is WSDOT’s new 5-track leadership development program that allows all WSDOT employees – regardless of level or position – to develop leadership qualities that will improve internal communication, cooperation and workflow while empowering an individual’s professional development.

How do we measure Learn Forward?

To date, 420 employees have enrolled in the first track of the program, titled “Leading Self.” This number is on track to meet the target of 500 participants.

Progress Target
Total through FY2018
420  Arrow to right  500 On track status icon
On track

Why did we pick this target?

A target of 500 for a leadership training program seemed a good goal for an agency of about 6,600 employees. We underestimated initial interest in the self-guided program and learned that our employees have a shared drive to continuously improve our organization and themselves

Image of Learn forward poster
A Learn Forward poster highlights WSDOT's new 5-track leadership training program.

More about Learn Forward

Why is Learn Forward a priority?

Learn Forward builds on employee’s shared drive. WSDOT’s new 5-track leadership development program is part of the WSDOT Learn Skillsoft program. This exciting opportunity allows all WSDOT employees – regardless of level or position – to develop leadership qualities to improve internal communication, cooperation and workflow while empowering an individual’s professional development.

How are we doing?

Learn Forward is inspiring employees, providing opportunities to expand individual and combined knowledge, helping WSDOT continuously grow and remain effective in its service to the public.

Each participant’s journey begins with the new Leading Self learning track. This 4-phase self-guided program is designed to increase self-awareness and give you valuable skills to foster teamwork and collaboration, build relationships and communicate more effectively. WSDOT began offering this track in September 2018; as of November 2018, 566 have enrolled in this training.

What are we working on?

WSDOT is preparing to launch Learn Forward’s second track, Leading Others, in December 2018.
It is one of four additional tracks that will be added, including Leading Teams, Leading Organizations, and Executive Onboarding.

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Community Engagement Training

How do we measure community engagement training?

We aim to increase the number of WSDOT employees who participate in the Community Engagement training.

on track status icon
on track

Source: WSDOT Human Resources & Safety Training.

More about community engagement training

Why is community engagement training a priority?

The community engagement training program is an important part of implementation of the WSDOT Community Engagement Plan. It is also integral to the agency’s three goals. Teaching our employees to do inclusive community engagement is consistent with a Practical Solutions approach and develops our workforce. Not only are we teaching community engagement skills in all regions and modes, but we developed more than 40 WSDOT staff as trainers to deliver the program. Engaging with partners and communities ensures our transportation solutions are consistent with community character, desire, and values. By engaging with appropriate stakeholders, we ensure the right solution, in the right place, at the right time.

How are we doing?

The program originated from a $50,000 appropriation in the 2016 supplemental budget. The plan was to hire a consultant, meet with internal experts, develop curriculum, test the curriculum, train WSDOT staff to deliver the curriculum, then hand off the completed program to Multimodal Planning Division staff by July 1, 2017. All those goals were met on time and on budget. In fiscal year 2019, 177 people attended a WSDOT-led community engagement class. An eLearning module has been completed and added to LMS. Two WSDOT regions are implementing the program in innovative ways without holding traditional classroom-style trainings.

What are we working on?

We continue working on implementing the program and making sure our trainers are scheduling classes or otherwise implementing the training. We’re working on a survey to determine how the Community Engagement Plan and training program are changing the way the WSDOT staff conduct business.

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Knowledge transfer

Spotlight status icon Spotlight on knowledge transfer

Transferring knowledge from one employee to another is one way to ensure successful succession – in other words, when a more experienced employee shares their knowledge with a less tenured employee, that knowledge – and its great value to the agency – will live on even after the more experienced employee retires. One of the ways WSDOT achieves this is through its employee mentoring program, which operates in several WSDOT regions, programs and projects.

Environmental Program Manager, Cameron Kukes share work knowledge to Emily Durante Communications Consultant
Cameron Kukes, WSDOT’s NW Region Environmental Program Manager, has been with the agency since July 2001. As a mentor, he shares his knowledge with Emily Durante, Transportation Planning Specialist for the Urban Mobility and Access Office, who joined the agency in September 2016.

An interview with Cameron and Emily

Emily Durante, Transportation Planning Specialist in the Urban Mobility and Access Office, and Cameron Kukes, Northwest Region Environmental Program Manager are protégé and mentor, respectively. Emily, who has a background in environmental science and planning, has been with WSDOT for two years and has advanced to her current position from a Communications Consultant 4 on the State Route 520 project. She views the mentorship program as a truly rewarding way to step outside her project office and learn more about the agency. Emily's participation in the mentorship program has helped her advance her career and tackle greater challenges within the agency.

Cameron’s 18-year WSDOT career has been spent at three different regions as well as headquarters, so he brings a lot of insight to his role. Near the beginning of Cameron’s WSDOT career, he was on the protégé end of a mentoring relationship, and he sees the program as one way to invest in people and “pay it forward.” He said his early experience provided him with a lot of great perspective that he still draws from on a regular basis. He also sees the mentorship programs as a creative way to build talent pipelines and employee engagement to address the unique challenges in recruitment and retention in the Seattle area. After an orientation where they got to know each other, Cameron set his sights on discovering Emily’s passions and interests – and he has used those to guide their mentoring relationship. Emily and Cameron meet once a month, after her regular shift is done. In addition to their standing meetings, they have participated in several experiences and events, like handling fish and partnership meetings to increase Emily’s exposure to other aspects of WSDOT work. For Emily, the relationship has helped her see how she can grow as a WSDOT employee, now and into the future.

Cameron says there is a lot of flexibility in mentorships – in addition to how often they meet, the pair might discuss soft skills like how to deliver a presentation, to more technical skills such as environmental law. There might be online trainings involved, job shadowing, site visits or any combination of skill development activities. The program helps individuals further their career goals, strengthen skills, and understand the broader context and connections of the agency and helps the agency retain valuable team members and knowledge, a win-win for all involved.

More about knowledge transfer

Why is knowledge transfer important?

The value of knowledge is unquantifiable, yet it is one of WSDOT’s (or any agency’s) greatest assets. WSDOT has long recognized the value of knowledge and sought ways to capture the expertise, wisdom and “know-how” of our employees and ensure its availability into the future. Out of this desire, our employee mentoring program was born.

How are we doing?

WSDOT’s Northwest Region (including staff from regional offices and programs including State Route 520, Alaskan Way Viaduct, Puget Sound Gateway/State Route 167, Interstate 405, and the Urban Mobility and Access Office) rolled out is mentoring program in March 2018. Northwest Region officials modeled their program after other WSDOT regions who have implemented successful mentoring programs, including Southwest and Olympic. An introductory meeting included an orientation on the mentoring program; it was an opportunity for mentor/protégé pairs to meet and begin to get to know each another. More than 75 employees participated in the meeting, resulting in 47 mentor/protégé pairs.

What are we working on?

The Northwest Region pairs try to meet at least monthly. Their second group activity in July 2018 gave participants the opportunity to share tips and learned from one another. Such events feature speakers who educate the group about different WSDOT divisions and career opportunities. The focus is on utilizing the talents of our current employees, leveraging their career expertise as to assist the career and professional development of our protégés. The result is that our more experienced employees support and develop other employees, transferring their knowledge in a way that benefits not only the employees, but also the agency.

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