Tag Archives: training

UDOT U: Opportunities to Learn

Over the last three years, I’ve quite often been asked, what is UDOT U and what can it do for employees?

The simplest answer to the first part of this question is UDOT University is UDOT’s learning organization; in other words, it is a fancy name for the training the department delivers. To answer the second part of the question, what can [UDOT U] do for employees, I’ll list what UDOT U does, and then employees can decide if there is anything that might be of value to them.

UDOT U does the following things: (1) provide UDOT employees and stakeholders with opportunities for learning and development, (2) facilitate partnerships with other learning organizations, (3) provide tools and infrastructure to track training hours and training effectiveness, and (4) assist subject-matter areas find ways to fund needed training.

Photo of conference room and attendees.

Kendrall Draney and Bryan Allen at a UDOT Annual Conference breakout session on project management.

Providing learning opportunities

UDOT-hosted NHI courses, breakout sessions at the UDOT Annual Conference, and webinars using Adobe Connect are all examples of learning opportunities UDOT U has provided to 13,000 attendees over the last couple of years. We’re in the process of adding to our course catalog, powered by Adobe Connect; go here to browse the 100+ offerings: www.connect.udot.utah.gov. We’re adding more every day. We contract with groups and work with vendors to keep marginal costs down for our business units.

Developing employees

As a learning organization UDOT U attempts to provide development opportunities for employees. Funds, obviously, are not unlimited so we look for ways to get the biggest bang for our buck. Purchasing licenses for Lynda.com; bringing in external subject matter experts through NHI, AASHTO, and local universities; and refocusing the breakout sessions at the UDOT Annual Conference to center on training has provided employees easy access to learning opportunities. The tuition assistance program, although more strictly a benefit than a training program, has allowed many UDOT employees to seek accredited degrees from local colleges and universities.

Photo of three students watching as an eye dropper is used with a test tube.

UDOT Chemist Sara Carlock demonstrates pH testing, which is used in the transportation industry to assure materials meet specifications.

Fostering learning and sharing

UDOT U has assisted the department initiate TRAC and RIDES programs, AASHTO-sponsored STEM initiatives for primary and secondary schools. Through this program UDOT provides needed materials and expertise to schools. Teachers use the materials to present engineering- and transportation- related lessons to future engineers and technicians.

UDOT U is also in the beginning stages of partnering with the research division to develop ways to capture, organize, and manage employees’ considerable knowledge and experience. We are looking for ways to make institutional memory shareable. We’re at the very beginning of the project; your ideas for how this might best be accomplished are welcome.

Developing infrastructure

UDOT U has developed a central website that acts as a portal leading employees to the learning opportunities offered in the department. Our course catalog, webinar software, and other tools are available for use by all UDOT employees and in most cases outside contractors and consultants.

Providing funding for training

The training budget has steadily increased over the years as our internal groups and subject matter experts have made good use of the funds. This last fiscal year (FY 2014), the budget was double the previous year. This commitment to funding demonstrates senior leaders’ commitment to learning, innovation, and developing employees.

Hopefully, it’s clear that UDOT U is here to serve employees’ and our partners’ learning needs. If there are ways we can help, please do not hesitate to contact us.

This guest post was written by Richard Murdock, UDOT U Administrative Vice President, and was orginally published in the UDOT U Summer 2014 newsletter.

Employee Recognition

Over the past several months, our leadership team has been looking into ways to better recognize our great employees here at UDOT and listen to your ideas and concerns.  Many of you have provided feedback through an online survey and in-person discussion groups.  Thank you for your participation.  Because of your input, we will be implementing several new programs in the coming months.  Here are some of the areas we will be focusing on:

Management Training – We have some excellent managers and supervisors here at UDOT.  I want to make sure they receive proper training on how to provide feedback and positive recognition to all employees.  We will be implementing a new training program for all managers that will emphasize good communication and positive verbal recognition.

Award/Incentive Program – I would like to give direct supervisors a way to reward their employees for a job well done.  It is a tricky balance between rewarding our employees and being fair with taxpayer dollars.  However, I believe we have come up with a program that will accomplish both.  Every year, each region/group will be given a number of vouchers to distribute to employees as a “pat on the back.”  The vouchers can be traded in for a UDOT logoed shirt.  It became apparent through the feedback we received that you are proud of the work you do at UDOT and many of you would like to have a way to display it.

Employee Advisory Council – This committee will give employees a chance to provide new ideas and voice concerns.  Too often, I don’t have the chance to hear your ideas or the issues you are dealing with.  Through the responses we received, some of you suggested bringing back a committee that could provide feedback to the Executive Director and Deputy Director.  My hope is that the new EAC will be a direct and productive channel of communication for both sides.  It will be made up of two employees from each region/group who will serve on a rotating basis.

Employee of the Year/Leader of the Year – I would like to continue to award the Employee of the Year and Leader of the Year.  It’s a chance for us as a department to recognize the outstanding individuals among us.  We will try to make the nomination process as simple as possible so all employees have an equal chance to be recognized.  There will also be help available to each region/group in writing the application in order to make the awards process fair.  One additional change, we will present the EOY and LOY awards, along with the Career Service award, at the Annual Conference banquet in November.

New Employee Orientation – We will be reintroducing a new employee orientation meeting with several changes.  The goal of this session will be to give new employees a good overview of all the different areas in UDOT and an opportunity to meet and interact with the leadership team.  Each group leader will be asked to present at the orientation, which will be held on a quarterly basis.

Performance Awards/ASIs – Many of you will be happy to learn that we are beginning to give Performance Awards and ASIs again on a limited basis.  Where funding is available, each group and region may give performance awards to up to 6% of their employees for exceptional performance.  While I recognize it is a small number, it’s a step in the right direction.

We are still working out the details on all of the new programs so please stay tuned for more information.  In addition to the changes I’ve listed above, we will also continue our successful recognition programs such as the Silver Barrel awards and the annual region/complex picnics.  Shane and I, along with the leadership team, will also try to be more available to all employees through formal and informal visits to each region and group.

I would like to personally thank each of you for a job well done.  My hope is that we can do a better job of recognizing you for the important work you are doing for this department and the state with these new programs.