Last month’s OneDigital Resource focused on SoCal and all the programs and activities that make them a “best place to work”. The first program mentioned was their very own professional development program, BEYOND. I was excited to sit down with Kendall Dewitt, responsible for the vision and structure of the program, to understand all that it entails.
Katie: Let’s start with the idea of bringing additional development to your team. How did it all start?
Kendall: This is something I’m incredibly passionate about. I was involved in our national development program last year, and I wanted to find a way to bring that to our office on a smaller, more focused scale. We have a millennial-dominated work force in Southern California, and we found ourselves getting questions from the team on how they can advance and grow within the company.
Katie: I think that’s something that any manager can identify with. What were some of the questions you were asked?
Kendall: We had a broad range of questions. Some asked about growth opportunities and career paths. Others asked to learn more about the roles we have within our office. But, the majority of our millennials were very driven in asking specifically how they could develop their skills to become experts in their field. This is when we knew we had the opportunity to introduce a new element of training for our team.
Katie: What are the goals you’ve set for the BEYOND program?
Kendall: After Russ Gramstad and I collaborated on areas of education, we identified four goals that would ensure success for our participants.
- Provide foundational benefits education
- Motivate our team members to become experts and innovators in our field
- Provide opportunities for senior team members to share their knowledge and expertise
- Provide development paths for team members looking for promotion within the company
Katie: Now with your plan in place, how did you all intend to execute this to your team? And, who would be teaching classes?
Kendall: One of the things we were really excited about doing was making sure the classes would be taught by fellow SoCal team members. This strategy also contributes to deeper connections with each other and opening the lines of communication. We also set a few guidelines to the program.
- Everyone is expected to participate
- Classes are assigned by roles (i.e. Account Manager, Admins, etc)
- Each group has 4-6 required classes, along with the opportunity to take “electives”
- The classes are held onsite (with a few remote) Monday afternoons
- We incorporated Greenlight to make tracking and accountability a smoother process
Katie: When did you implement this program and how has it worked so far?
Kendall: We started classes back in July and the feedback has been great! It’s been rewarding to see the level of engagement from those attending class and our “teachers”. We have definitely used this opportunity to find some star players who are motivated to climb the office ladder. I want to add a personal shout out to our national development programs. We wouldn’t have created this without their vision and implementation. They lit a fire inside me, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to bring a smaller version to our own colleagues.