When Human Resources Manager Jason Curry joined Monument Chemical, a fast-paced, production-based manufacturer of specialty chemical products, he knew employee training and development would be a priority.
“Your equipment and buildings devalue over time, but your employees’ value increases over time. Part of that is investing in educational opportunities. It contributes to long-term success for them as individuals and as employees,” he said.
One of the biggest hurdles Curry faced in offering employee training was time. You’ve probably come in contact with one of Monument Chemical’s 200-plus products, which can be found in everything from memory foam to cough syrups. With such varied and high-profile customers, Monument Chemical can’t afford to miss a step when it comes to production.
Monument Chemical had an existing relationship with the University of Louisville through a successful co-op program, so Curry turned to the university to look for management training opportunities that would fit within the company’s busy production schedule. He worked with the UofL Professional Development team to identify topics based on the needs of their employees. Together, they selected a customized Management Development certificate program.
“One of the benefits of our customized programming is the flexibility. We serve clients near and far, delivering our programs and services beyond local and state borders. In this case, we were able to schedule classes onsite in Brandenburg to make the program accessible to all employees and encourage participation. We also scheduled two sessions of each class so that participants on shift work could attend without sacrificing time on the job,” said Professional Development Director Robbie Chitwood.
Curry added that the program’s flexibility allowed the supervisors to manage their schedules.
“It didn’t seem like training was a burden. It was something that they wanted to go to. I didn’t have to call and remind people.” he said.
Employees appreciated the flexibility as well. “The scheduling worked out well. Because the classes were offered twice, and on location, the people on shift work could come,” said Quality Manager Kelly Farmer.
Throughout the course of eight months, 32 participants completed eight courses to earn their University of Louisville Management Development certificates. Course topics included how to work with difficult people, bridging generational gaps in the workplace, and setting SMART goals.
“The techniques can be applied universally,” Farmer said. “You can use the principles at work, coaching a little league team, or on a church board. You can use those principles anywhere.”
Both stakeholders and participants indicated that one of the best outcomes of the training was bringing together the group of supervisors who don’t often get to work with one another.
“The team building was a big piece. They got to learn about people they don’t work with as much. It becomes a little more than just a working relationship. It helps us work better together, which makes our plan successful long term,” Curry said. “It has changed the way they think.”
Participants also learned to value the perspectives of the many generations represented at Monument Chemical.
“I now understand Millennials better, which has helped me both at work and at home with my two daughters,” Farmer stated. “Understanding what is important to them and their generation has helped me bridge that gap. It helps me work better within the organization, from interns to engineers. That’s why I like the open dialogue of these courses. We were learning from each other. When you see someone else’s priorities it opens your eyes. And the instructors knew how to tap into that so they could tie our experience back into the topic.”
Treating training and development as a capital investment is a strategy that is already paying off for Monument Chemical.
“The program has made me a better change agent through communication and better application of SMART goals. Monument Chemical is in a transition period and growing. All of us are now in a position to help steer and guide that,” Farmer said.
Curry agreed, “We’re growing. These employees will be prepared to fill gaps as we grow.”