National Academies Press: OpenBook

Developing Transportation Agency Leaders (2005)

Chapter: Chapter Five - Leadership Training: Program Attributes

« Previous: Chapter Four - Recruitment and Retention of Leaders in State Departments of Transportation
Page 18
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Five - Leadership Training: Program Attributes." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2005. Developing Transportation Agency Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23300.
×
Page 18
Page 19
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Five - Leadership Training: Program Attributes." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2005. Developing Transportation Agency Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23300.
×
Page 19
Page 20
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Five - Leadership Training: Program Attributes." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2005. Developing Transportation Agency Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23300.
×
Page 20
Page 21
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Five - Leadership Training: Program Attributes." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2005. Developing Transportation Agency Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23300.
×
Page 21
Page 22
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Five - Leadership Training: Program Attributes." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2005. Developing Transportation Agency Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23300.
×
Page 22
Page 23
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Five - Leadership Training: Program Attributes." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2005. Developing Transportation Agency Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23300.
×
Page 23

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

18 Leadership theories are numerous and diverse. One is that leaders are born and there is little an organization or man- agement team can do to cultivate and train them. Others state that many individuals may rise to become leaders given the right circumstances and necessary skill sets. A significant premise of this synthesis has been that the latter of these two theories is correct. Each of the 25 responding state DOTs has a leadership- training program in place, geared toward developing current and future leaders. This uniformly affirmative response from agencies whose overall purpose is focused on technical engi- neering activities reflects the importance attached to this vital human resource activity. Questions in the state survey attempted to evaluate the basic characteristics found in each agency’s leadership train- ing program. Additionally, data were examined with the intent of ascertaining critical trends and areas of commonal- ity, especially when program effectiveness was measured. The following discussion considers the attributes of the pro- grams surveyed. The survey first focused on who provided leadership train- ing for state DOTs. Figure 6 reflects the states’ responses. Note that nearly all agencies (96%) provide some element of their leadership training program. Oregon was the only state DOT not doing leadership training in-house; it is provided by another state agency. That a high percentage of states sur- veyed also use other state organizations to provide some leadership training is not surprising. Experience indicates that this usually is a human resources agency task. Also, 63% of state DOTs rely on the private sector to supply supple- mental leadership training. Use of the private sector is further reflected in that one-third of states responding to the survey reported private-sector involvement when they do turn to another state agency for leadership training assistance. Additionally, more than 40% indicated that they turn to other organizations when training leaders. Responses to this question cited two AASHTO management courses, includ- ing a 2-week program offered at the University of Indiana and 1-week courses offered around the country. FHWA is cited as an outside source, and so is higher education. The answers show that states are definitely engaged in obtaining leadership training from a variety of sources depending on their various circumstances. The study also attempted to determine the current level of the individuals that were being trained. The survey offered the respondents five choices: • Future leaders/supervisors/managers (those who will be appointed as leaders at some point in the future), • New leaders/supervisors/managers (those who have recently been appointed to a leadership position), • Mid-level leaders/supervisors/managers, • Senior leaders/managers, and • Others. The results give important insights into the nature and focus of the state DOT programs for training leaders. Figure 7 pro- vides a summary of answers to this question. The group receiving the most emphasis is the mid-level leader. All states have some training element of their leader- ship program that is meant for this group. New leaders and senior leaders are the focus of training programs in 92% and 88% of the states, respectively. It is interesting to note that of the 25 state DOTs providing information for this project, 2 (8%) do not provide basic leadership training to new leaders and 21% are not investing in those individuals in the “future” leaders’ group who may some day assume critical positions in the agency. These groups would appear to need training before anyone else. Often training is a function of soliciting and receiving approval. One measure of a DOT’s ability to be responsive to training needs is the ease of obtaining approval for training. For the purposes of this report, ease of approval was consid- ered a function of the number of approvals required. States were asked to identify which approval levels were required to allow an individual to attend a specific training course. Twenty-one states, or 84% of the respondents, cited the first level of approval as the immediate supervisor. Six- teen, or 64%, of the states indicated this to be the only level of approval necessary to attend the requested training. This is the most streamlined approach reported. In the five remain- ing states where the immediate supervisor first approves the request report, the second level supervisor must further endorse the candidates. In three state, California, Georgia, and Louisiana, where the immediate supervisor does not approve the training request, consent is obtained at another level. CHAPTER FIVE LEADERSHIP TRAINING: PROGRAM ATTRIBUTES

19 Who determines course content was also examined. It is not uncommon for senior leaders in state DOTs to be passionate about leadership and have a significant interest and influence on the course content of training programs. Figure 8 shows the answers to this question. It should be noted that the states were allowed to provide multiple responses to this question; there- fore, the percentages in this figure will exceed 100. Although 20 states indicated that they determine course content for their training programs, a consideration of all the state responses shows that almost all are also influenced by either another state agency or some other party. Of 20 states reporting that they determine the content or format of their programs, only 6 did not indicate some other influence. Thus, only 6 states (24%) that responded to this survey have com- plete independence in setting the tone, content, and format of their leadership training program. This is undesirable only if the outside entities are requiring subject matter that is less than ideal for strong and effective leadership training. This survey also sampled how training was delivered, with some interesting results. Delivery methods for leadership training among the states vary widely. Figure 9 shows the pri- mary methods used. Notice that 100% of the states use some type of formal classroom training, which is an important key to accomplishing this task. Nearly half of the responding states indicated that they have a mentoring program in place that provides for a senior leader to help an individual who is just developing organizational and leadership skills. This power- ful coaching tool can produce significant results owing to the concentrated efforts surrounding its implementation. How- ever, it has been shown that mentoring programs require commitment and discipline on the part of both mentor and protégé to be effective. Web-based training is also widely used among the states. This reflects two phenomena. First, the acceptance of web- based training as an effective tool for deploying training courses to large numbers of people has increased its use. Many universities and secondary education institutions as well as private-sector companies have also begun to use this approach. Second, web-based training is a cost-effective means for supplying a student with training information and materials. No travel expenses are involved, a single instruc- tor can provide training to a larger number of students, and learning can occur at the convenience of the students rather 96% 83% 63% 33% 42% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 120% DOT Another Agency Private/Contract DOT Private/ Contract w/Other Agency Other Organization Pe rc en t 79% 92% 100% 88% 21% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Future New Mid-level Senior Other Leadership Level Pe rc en t 83% 38% 33% 17% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% DOT Another Agency DOT and Other Agency Other Organization Pe rc en t 100% 46% 46% 58% 29% 42% 33% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Courses Mentoring Web-Based Rotational Assignments Partnering w/Others Self-Study Other Types Pe rc en t FIGURE 6 Distribution of organizations providing training to state DOTs. FIGURE 7 Training availability leadership level. FIGURE 8 Who defines course content. FIGURE 9 Distribution of types of training offered.

20 than that of the instructor. Current trends in training and edu- cation indicate that web-based instruction in all areas will continue to rapidly increase. A strong showing (42% of the states) indicates the exis- tence of some kind of self-study program directed at leader- ship training. Self-study programs are the natural precursor to web-based training. Many states have some kind of rotational or engineer- in-training program to provide development opportunities for their employees; 58% indicated they use this method. Although this synthesis effort attempted to analyze the nature of state DOT leadership training programs, it was difficult to determine whether rotational programs are designed to train newly hired engineers in technical and operational programs or if they are definitely oriented toward leadership training. A series of questions were posed in an attempt to deter- mine the effectiveness of leadership training programs within the states. “Effectiveness” is a difficult term to define—it has almost as many definitions as the term “leadership.” This sur- vey made no attempt to define effectiveness owing to the con- siderable variety of expectations and interpretations of this term. For some, effectiveness is simply having a program in place. Others measure effectiveness by the amount of money that is spent. Still others outcomes defined effectiveness in terms of agency performance and change. Consequently, for the purposes of this review, each agency was left to define effectiveness in its own way. To achieve some measure of understanding about the effectiveness of a state’s leadership development program one question sampled the respondent’s views of their leader- ship training programs for leaders at different career stages. It is one thing to have a program in place, but training exis- tence and program effectiveness do not always occur together. Figure 10 is a summary of the responses. In the case of future leaders, 20% were “not satisfied,” indicating a judgment that not enough was being done to cul- tivate and prepare potential leaders for future positions. These future leaders were defined as individuals who were either about to be appointed or would be appointed in the near-term. Of the four principal leadership roles sampled, this group gave was the lowest ratings for the effectiveness of training in the survey. This group also had the most uniform distribution of responses of any of the leadership categories. The highest satisfaction levels were found with new and mid-level leaders. Referring back to Figure 7, note that these were also the groups that had the highest amount of training available. This correlation to satisfaction and availability is not accidental. On a scale of “1” to “5,” with “5” being “very satisfied,” most states reported a rating of “3” (“average”) for effec- tiveness of their training programs for new, mid-level, and senior leaders. This average rating appears to reflect that more could be done to improve training effectiveness. With the exception of the future leader category, only a small number of respondents rated program effectiveness as either “1” or “2,” which would have indicated a serious dis- satisfaction with agency efforts in this area. This trend is important because it shows that whereas many see an oppor- tunity for significant improvement (a reflection of the high number of “average” scores), the absence of responses on the lowest end of the ratings spectrum (senior, mid-level, and new) indicates that there is satisfaction with the effectiveness of training in all three categories. On the other hand, agen- cies should take no comfort in the high number of average 20% 5% 5% 9% 15% 5% 5% 9% 25% 43% 52% 36% 25% 24% 24% 32% 15% 24% 14% 14% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Future New Mid-level Senior Le ve l Percent 5 - Very Satisfied 4 3 2 1 - Not SatisfiedLe ad er sh ip FIGURE 10 Satisfaction ratings of the quality and effectiveness of leadership training by leadership level.

21 scores. Average should not be acceptable when considering leadership training and development. The challenges facing the state DOTs are too significant to accept mediocre results in this critical area. Figure 11 summarizes the survey responses with regard to who within the agency is in charge of leadership training pro- grams. This element can play a major role in the content, effectiveness, and other attributes of a state agency’s efforts. Only two states (Michigan and Utah) reported that the CEO was in charge of their programs. In Arkansas, the deputy director is responsible for leadership development and train- ing; therefore, only three states, or fewer than 16%, are directed from the senior leadership position. A good program need not be directed by the senior leader for that leader to have significant influence on the nature of such efforts. How- ever, a lack of senior leadership involvement relegates lead- ership training to the level of “just another” course offered by the agency’s human resource department or training section. The most common response from the states about who is in charge of its leadership training programs was the Training Director (63%) and Director/Chief of Administration Ser- vices (25%). Again, the issue is not so much who is in charge as how much influence the senior leader has in crafting the content of the program. (Note that the percentages total more than 100 because one state selected multiple responses.) When asked how much support an agency’s top manage- ment gives to leadership training, respondents indicated a high level of commitment. Strong support was cited by 63%, whereas another 29% noted moderate support from top man- agement. Only 1 agency (4%) indicated little support and no one say reported an absence of support. Because a total of 92% of respondents reported moderate to strong support for their agency’s leadership program, a positive environment exists for such programs to grow and flourish. Another question designed to determine the effectiveness of leadership programs asked for a grade on how well states are doing in preparing individuals for future leadership posi- tions. Fifty-eight percent reported moderately effective efforts in producing future leaders. Only 21% mentioned that devel- opment programs were very effective, with 13% graded as not very effective. This lack of an overwhelming endorse- ment of DOT programs reflects a need to further improve existing efforts because of a looming shortfall. When asked to clarify what could be done to improve pro- gram quality, states were offered seven specific options and could also volunteer additional options, as necessary. Two possible choices received very few responses: “change the instructor” (1) and “provide a training environment with fewer distractions” (2). Given these low scores, there is little reason to believe improvement lies with either option. On the other hand, “increased funding” was the most commonly mentioned impediment to improving the quality of leader- ship training programs. The “Other” option also ranked high and included the following responses: • See that leadership development is a high priority activ- ity and establish accountability for making it happen. • Give priority to participants with a positive attitude for learning and aspirations to higher position. • Revise the management selection process. • Provide funding for senior leaders to attend executive development programs. The areas for improvement that were cited are listed here in descending order of frequency of mention: • Increased funding, 63%; • Other, 63%; • Provide more time for training, 46%; • Make it more practical/applicable to the real world, 38%; • Prepare the students better, 33%; • Change the curriculum, 29%; • Provide a training environment with fewer distractions, 8%; and • Change the instructor, 4%. 8% 8% 25% 17% 63% 8% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Director Deputy Dir. of Admin. Services HR Director Training Dir. Other Pe rc en t FIGURE 11 Who is in charge of leadership training, by position.

Agencies need more time and more money, both scarce commodities. They appear willing to improve leadership train- ing programs and have a sense or conviction that an invest- ment in this part of their employee’s professional develop- ment will pay dividends in the long term. Figure 12 shows the actual number of employees able to participate in agency leadership training programs and the number who would under ideal conditions. The disparity between the two conditions is striking and worth noting. Where there is already a strong commitment to send employees to training, there is a desire to further increase that number. On the other hand, in agencies where few employees currently attend such programs, there appears to be little interest in improving that situation. This appears to reflect that where there is a strong commitment and appreciation for the value of training there will be a desire to advance those efforts even further. Figure 13 summarizes the relationship between how much is currently being spent by the state DOTs on leadership train- ing programs and how much they would like to spend. The contrast between the left and right sides of the figure again reflects that agencies with strong commitments to training understand the value this brings to their organization and a desire to further invest in this valuable resource—people. This synthesis attempted to gain information, including the current status of their training, from states whose pro- grams are in place. However, this is an area that is experi- encing many dynamic changes; new and different initiatives are continuously being launched in one state or another. At the time of this synthesis, the Utah DOT was in the process of establishing an aggressive effort designed to cultivate its leadership team by offering a variety of on-the-job situations and position appointments to prepare leaders for future roles. In this agency key middle management employees volunteer to participate in a pool where they transfer laterally into other positions so that they can gain or further refine particular skill 22 sets. It is a deliberate effort to prepare individuals in middle leadership positions for greater opportunities. In Nebraska, the Department of Roads has launched a new initiative, modeled after some private-sector examples, which it anticipates will significantly improve its leadership develop- ment efforts. This program includes a disciplined approach to skill assessment, education, and training as well as mentor- ing. Both the Utah and Nebraska programs show initial promise and should be watched in the coming years as they mature and results are forthcoming. Key attributes of these programs include strong leadership and commitment from the state CEO and a structured approach that is clearly com- municated to all participants. State DOTs have invested considerable effort in estab- lishing leadership programs. However, more can be done to increase the participant levels and the amount of funding dedicated to these efforts. In some cases, DOTs are in charge of their programs, whereas in others they share that control. Surprisingly few indicated that the CEO is in charge of their efforts, a situation that stands in stark contrast to the private 17% 8% 17% 25% 13% 8% 4% 13% 13% 13% 25% 29% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 0-50 51-100 101-250 251-500 501-1000 1001 and above Employees Pe rc en t Actual Ideal 8% 13% 25% 42% 0% 4% 29% 54% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Below $10,000 $10,001-$25,000 $25,001 to $100,000 $100,001 and above Amount Pe rc en t Actual Ideal FIGURE 12 Employee participation in training programs, actual and ideal. FIGURE 13 Training dollars spent, actual and ideal.

23 sector discussion in chapter seven. There is a consistency in the delivery methods offered, including presentation and instruction methods. Of note is that the most common rating of satisfaction with existing programs was “average,” indi- cating that there is considerable room for improvement. The bottom line is that DOTs can and want to do better at the agency level but must invest in the resources to do so. One situation that emerges is that states may never have either the full control or the resources needed to advance leadership development to their total satisfaction. Funding will likely always be inadequate, personnel rules change slowly, and other influences may always be present and lim- iting. Nevertheless, states are moving ahead and are putting forward credible and effective initiatives in leadership devel- opment. This being the case, they would do well to advance whatever programs they can within the constraints they are operating under. In reality, much can be done even under the most onerous of bureaucratic circumstances. In addition to the information gathered during the course of the survey, several examples of programs were found to add value to this discussion of leadership development. Appen- dix D contains three such examples.

Next: Chapter Six - Succession Management »
Developing Transportation Agency Leaders Get This Book
×
 Developing Transportation Agency Leaders
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 349: Developing Transportation Agency Leaders examines practices and innovative approaches that address the development of transportation leadership in today’s work environment. The report covers demographics, recruitment and retention, leadership training, and succession management.

READ FREE ONLINE

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!