Louisville Metro Government
Louisville Metro Government partnered with UofL Professional Development to create a customized project management certificate program for city employees aimed at formalizing internal processes, creating a common language, and providing participants with a “toolkit” of skills.
In 2012 Theresa Reno-Weber, chief of performance improvement for Louisville Metro Government, and other city officials realized that city employees were learning project management skills through on-the-job training. Capital projects were a big priority for the city and while employees were getting the job done, the administration felt that formal project management training would help team members become more efficient and deliver better results.
“We couldn't hold employees to a standard if they’ve never been given the skills they need. We wanted to help employees improve and to figure out how to give them the toolkit they needed to be successful. We wanted to address and fill employee skill gaps,” Theresa said.
As the city’s 50th mayor, Greg Fischer has focused on building Louisville’s reputation as a city of lifelong learners. With education as a key priority for the administration and the need for project management training identified internally, Theresa and Daro Mott, deputy director of performance management, began the search for a training provider.
“We scanned the network of project management providers and the logical step was to partner with UofL. We trust UofL; since our missions and values are similar, it was great to be able to partner with them. They are easy to work with and their instructors are experienced, passionate practitioners.”
Building A Partnership
UofL Professional Development worked with Theresa and Daro to create a customized project management certificate program for employees that fit Louisville Metro’s unique learning needs. “We bring well-designed and tested programs to our partners, but the real magic happened when we sat down with the Louisville Metro team,” Virginia Denny, director of UofL Professional Development shared. “We were able to identify the key success factors, or what the team wanted out of the training, and from there we designed the content, approach and the rest of the solution.”
Using a formal application process, employees were invited to apply for the certificate program. To help gain buy-in, program participants were asked to commit to stay with Louisville Metro for at least one year post-certification.
To date, 84 employees from over 25 departments have participated in the six-month project management certificate program. To help Louisville Metro scale and meet employee scheduling needs, UofL project management instructors offered three-hour training classes twice a week at Metro Hall.
“It was important to us that the instructors were practitioners, not just instructors. Participants needed to be able to transfer theory to execution in their work immediately. That was key for us,” Theresa said. “UofL’s project management instructors also made themselves available and required little to no management. I could trust that the program was working and it gave me confidence.”
Over the course of the program, instructors covered project management fundamentals as well as practical application and helped prepare Louisville Metro employees for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam administered by the Project Management Institute.
“This program formalized, generalized, and institutionalized the methods we use in our departments. It strengthened the approaches we were already using and provided additional tools to incorporate in the workplace,” shared program graduate, Rolf Eisinger, a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator in the Public Works and Assets department. “It established a standard set of steps to go through and a documentation of the process. This provides historic information so that others can pick up a project as needed. The program also provided baseline information, which allows us to think about why projects haven't been completed in the past and enables us to complete more projects on more realistic timelines.”
Creating Compassionate Employees
The program wasn’t just about creating efficiencies, it also sought to build individual employee skillsets and give them something tangible that they could draw upon for the rest of their professional careers. “It gave our employees a sense of compassion from the government and strengthened them as individuals,” Theresa said. Additionally, the program provided employees with a common experience.
“I liked that I was able to be in a space with employees from all departments across Metro government. We identified a common process and a common language. Now we have the opportunity to work across departments,” shared Tiff Gonzales, a community health specialist with the Center for Health Equity and graduate of the program.
“Word has spread and other employees are on the waiting list to participate in upcoming project management programs. This investment helped us demonstrate that employees are worth the investment NOW,” Daro shared.
“I feel confident that this program will prove to have a phenomenal return on investment. I can’t say enough about the in-person, in-class resources. It was more personal than online programs and allowed participants to implement methods immediately.”
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