Leaders at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) cite two critical elements of workplace success: the ethos of continuous learning and job rotation.
“We emphasize rotational assignments so people understand how to connect the dots,” says Jody Hudson, who oversees learning programs at the commission. NRC’s mission is to protect people and the environment from radiation hazards associated with commercial use of nuclear materials and nuclear power, and to regulate the nuclear industry through licensing, inspection, and enforcement.
The Partnership for Public Service recently reported that NRC is ranked number one among federal agencies in training and development. The Public Manager asked NRC learning leaders: How do you teach effective leadership that fosters NRC business and also makes it a good place to work for public managers?
Chief Learning Officer
“It’s important to leverage the intellectual assets in your organization. By using technology and communities of practice (CoP), passing on knowledge can be ‘one to many’ instead of ‘one to one.’” Connecting people in electronic CoPs collapses training time and enables them to share lessons learned. Putting courses online achieves salary, time, and travel savings, and allows learners to fit training into their schedule. “Electronic CoPs become something learning professionals can tap into. What’s going to emerge is efficient learning.” A board of agency senior executives governs leadership development, models continuous learning, and selects candidates for competitive leadership programs. “Employees see leaders setting the example and they follow suit.”
Leadership Development Program Manager
We try to keep up with changes in the workplace with formal learning programs, leadership coaching, and team development. Our supervisory development program provides a comprehensive, competency-based integrated system to train and develop employees. This includes ongoing cohort programs both for emerging and more senior leaders. We aim to have “A Leader at Every Level,” and we can identify leadership potential over time. We actively encourage action learning opportunities, such as rotations, for people who are leaders or are looking to be leaders. Further, the degree of partnership we have with senior leaders is unique and truly remarkable.
Learning Management System (LMS) Project Manager
We have engaged our employees in a conversation to connect their development to their actual and future work activities The LMS I run helps staff find appropriate learning and development opportunities. NRC streamlines the system to deliver online courses and schedule participation in instructor-led courses. Evaluation surveys reveal how the programs have worked. We modify them accordingly. Individual development plans identify new knowledge skills and abilities to pursue; they allow people to chart a career path. We enable supervisors to monitor these activities.
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