Every journey of growth and improvement involves an aspirational guiding vision. This anticipated outcome can serve to fuel and inspire both large-scale organizational efforts and individual-focused growth planning alike.

At the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), our vision is to “transform health care through innovation and collaboration.” On the surface, this sounds like a meaningful and motivational rallying cry around which our efforts of improvement can be gathered. However, over the past two years, our organization has examined what this vision really means to all facets of our organization and how it has, can and ultimately will, drive change.

Balancing academia and medicine, there have been multiple examples where we have struggled to identify how to operationalize both innovation and collaboration. Specifically, in learning and development (L&D), it was clear that we needed to rethink how we were meeting the needs of the organization and our employees. Practically, we worked diligently to conceptualize exactly how this guiding principle could manifest itself amid the diversity inherent in our relatively complex organizational structure consisting of six campuses, five schools and a team of nearly 4,500 faculty and staff.

In addition to our vision, TTUHSC is guided by a values-based culture comprised of five core values that are incorporated at all levels of the organization. These values include: one team, kindhearted, integrity, visionary and beyond service. The one team value has helped lead the L&D evolution. For TTUHSC, beyond service has consistently served as a conduit to create and deliver positive defining moments.

When reflecting on our past L&D efforts, it appeared that our offerings were intended to meet the needs the organization had presented, but we had previously been unable to consistently link team members’ needs to available offerings.

From this realization, two offices were able to showcase the benefits of innovation and collaboration that allowed the needs of employees and the needs of the organization to align: the office of people (OPV) and values and the school of health professions (SHP) LevelUp development program.

The OPV serves all TTUHSC team members through leader development, professional development and coaching for teams and leaders. In 2019, the organization identified a need to develop future senior leaders. This initiative brought forward formalized training to senior leaders in the organization. However, no training opportunities for every employee was available.

While we offered monthly instructor-led training (ILT), attendance was relatively sparse, and the impact was limited. Reviewing attendance, consistent themes emerged regarding attendees. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, the OPV used remote learning to shift how they developed engagement opportunities and quickly developed online training — something that had not previously been available.

The focus of this training shifted nearly overnight to allow for more personal development of our team members. We moved from focusing only on topics related to leadership and business acumen to offering a wide variety of training around emotional intelligence, compassion, empowerment, accountability, communication and several other soft skills. Enrollment numbers surged from 30 to 60 employees trained each month to over 1,200 employees trained in the first month of remote offerings. This increase in attendance included team members who had not previously attended training from the OPV.

Representation across all areas of both academia and medicine was present in the program. Two years later, the OPV has maintained enrollment of 700 to 1,000 learners a month and has now created a five-level leader development program that touches each employee level across the organization. Additionally, we have developed and implemented programs that supplement our leadership development programs and allow for more in-depth personal and professional development.

Likewise, while the OPV has served team members from all aspects of the organization, individual schools within the institution were encouraged to develop specialized programming to best serve the unique needs of the people within them. For example, the SHP had previously offered monthly on-site training services with topics focused specifically on improving overall teaching practice. However, seemingly overnight, sessions pivoted to virtual delivery with the inclusion of far more personalized topics. These changes were essential not only due to pandemic-related restrictions preventing in-person training, but also in addressing the unprecedented stressors in navigating online instruction, providing virtual office hours and addressing the unique needs of managing remote learners.

The LevelUp series was born and included raw and honest discussions on race, sex, gender, generational differences, faith’s role in the workplace and a variety of other topics. Participation more than quadrupled in less than three months and has persisted even after our slow but steady return to normal.

Leadership within both the OPV and the SHP realized that we were not impacting a proper cross-section of our organization. In both cases, we were able to shift from either business or leadership-only training (OPV) or teaching-focused training (SHP) to a model of holistic development.

By making this shift, we have seen an increase in cross-functional collaboration through employees in our development programs and innovation has increased through the networking and resources made available.

Register for the spring Training Industry Conference & Expo (TICE) to hear Jason Weber and Toby Brook’s session, “A Unified Culture: Build Organizational Culture in Growth Programming.”