With 10,000 employees around the world, ManTech International Corp. makes sure professional development activities are available anytime, anywhere, so its work force can stay up-to-date on fast-changing technological advancements. Dr. Karen Gardner, executive director of training and organizational development for the government solutions provider, offers a look inside the company’s learning program and why it’s so successful.
HOW DO YOU MEET THE LEARNING NEEDS OF MANTECH EMPLOYEES?
We deliver all learning opportunities through ManTechUniversity, our internal training program, which builds organizational knowledge by helping ManTech’s employees keep up with the technological changes, advancements and innovations in a variety of fields. Within the university, employees can access a large catalog of courses that are directly applicable to their jobs atManTech.
HOW HAS THE UNIVERSITY BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES?
The online courses are available to employees 24/7 and we’ve found that the highest usage rate is Sunday at 7 p.m. This is special because it tells me that our employees are highly motivated to take classes on their own time, which means they understand the value of continuing education in terms of increasing their own marketability. In fact, we have an “all star” employee who has taken more than 95% of the courses currently offered, even though some may not apply directly to his job. It’s great to come across people who are self-motivated and dedicated to learning.
WHY DO YOU THINK EMPLOYEES ARE SO ENGAGED WITH THE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES?
Perhaps the most unique aspect of ManTechUniversity is that we build courses to fit the needs of the company — we don’t emphasize off - the shelf training products. Most courses are built by my team to teach employees not only how to perform a job function, but how to do it at ManTech. That makes learning more relevant and beneficial.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN A NEW COURSE IS NEEDED?
While some courses originate with senior leadership to meet critical business needs, ManTech employees are vocal—in a good way. They tell us when they think training is needed and they are good at sensing where the future is for them personally and for the company. We listen carefully to their feedback. ManTech employees have a finger on the pulse of the industry;they see the contracts we are winning and they know what they might be working on down the road. It’s important that we prepare them to perform successfully on those projects.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS MOST EFFECTIVE IN RETAINING GOOD EMPLOYEES?
People stay with a company when they are engaged. TheNo. 1 influence on engagement is the employee’s manager. If you work for someone who is not interested in your career, you are much more likely to start looking for another job. However, if you have a manager who shares opportunities with you, encourages you to branch out, and talks with you about your goals and professional advancement, then you feel more attached to the company.
In turn, retention becomes important for recruiting. The people we hire generally have security clearances and specialized knowledge, which places them in high demand. We show qualified candidates that we have a great work environment, with great managers and lots of opportunities to grow, which improves recruiting.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SO FAR DURING YOUR TENURE AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR?
I’ve realized that continuing education is tied to who I am as a person. I couldn’t do my job without being passionate about learning, and I’m always looking for opportunities. When I joined ManTech, I left a 28-year career in government, and it was the first time I had worked for a public company. I quickly realized I didn’t possess strong business acumen, which was something I needed in order to effectively contribute to our company. Given that a lot of ManTech employees come from military and government backgrounds, I thought they might want to learn more about business as well.
I developed a workshop on the six critical business metrics we track at ManTech and how each employee influences those metrics in their jobs. The program was successful, and we continue to offer it eight times a year. I’m always thrilled to see the new discussions and thought-sharing sparked by this workshop—employees and managers talk about how to positively influence those numbers and, most importantly, how to improve in their roles.
Strayer University partners with ManTech to educate the company’s work force.