Of the many investments Penn-Mar has made over the past two years, perhaps one the most significant has been the organization’s commitment to the training and development of its team members.
While programs have always been in place to properly initiate new team members and continually train current ones, we have definitely upped our game in the Learning & Development Department.
A perfect example is the incorporation into our onboarding program of a “Live Your Legacy” component that asks new team members to consider what is important to them, when they have felt at their best, and what personal legacy they want to leave.
We ask them to put those thoughts in writing and then explore how they can align their own personal goals and values to Penn-Mar’s core values and mission of transforming life into living for the people we support.
We also made the commitment to exceed rather than just meet the Pennsylvania and Maryland industry regulatory requirements. Why? Because we want our team members to have the most robust training in the industry, the best skills available.
So we have essentially updated all of our onboarding training for new hires while enhancing mandatory training to be more modern, engaging, and interactive.
We recently rolled out Coach Approach, a leadership development program that will help us meet our strategic initiative to attract and retain the best team members in the industry. Studies show that people leave their jobs not because of the work demands but because of a lack of leadership.
The two-day Coach Approach program teaches leaders how to engage with team members and the people they support in a way that helps them to become better decision makers and to grow professionally and personally. It is really a mindset and an operating system where the default is to ask questions rather than tell people what to do.
Another dimension of our leader development program is the DiSC assessment. Using an assessment tool to measure Dominance/Influence/Steadiness and Conscientiousness (DiSC), we are helping leaders to be more self-aware, to understand what they bring to an interaction, how they come across to others, and how they may need to tweak their behavior to be more influential and better communicate the message they are trying to deliver.
Our effective manager programs are being sustained throughout the year for new supervisors and leaders and, along the way, we are sharing what’s working and offering help for those areas where people may be struggling.
Recently we introduced a Dementia Capable Care program designed specifically for those working with people with disabilities. This includes Dementia Live experiential training, a national program where participants wear headphones to hear differently, gloves to limit their dexterity and goggles to impair their vision. We have opened up these 6-hour sessions to family members and invited various community members who work with our people in local fitness centers.
Lastly, we integrated a new, enhanced learning management system (LMS) with an updated Human Resource Information System (HRIS) that will improve efficiencies for staff in terms of sharing their training progress on a more modern platform.
We are upgrading the availability and number of training courses related to our field by partnering with Open Future Learning, an online learning provider dedicated to the field of developmental disabilities. Originally this NADSP-approved content was made available to the DSPs in the Career Ladders program. Now that it will be part of our updated LMS System, we have totally upped the bar on the amazing content staff can now access.
These are exciting times for Penn-Mar team members who have embraced the “Live Your Legacy” promise that the better we do, the better we become.