It’s 10am, and a group of Gravity employees are gathered in the company’s “Town Hall” conference room. The topic of discussion is how to improve personal organization and prioritization. One employee shares his struggle with multitasking; he has been working to limit the number of web browser tabs he has open at the same time. Another employee discusses a system she uses to color-code her work calendar. The team members bounce ideas off each other: what works, what doesn’t, and things to try later that week.
Workshops and trainings like this have become a part of life at Gravity Payments.
At most companies, employees are encouraged to keep their heads down and do their work. Trainings–when they are provided–cover basic necessities for how to do the job and how to not get in trouble.
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At Gravity, we think about training differently. Trainings should benefit attendees not only as employees but also as people. We seek to teach leadership skills that spill over beyond the walls of our workspace.
Earlier this year, we launched the Gravity Leadership Development University (LDU) program. LDU is a holistic leadership training program that offers courses in People Leadership and Project Leadership. We offer two separate tracks because we recognize that not everyone strives to manage a team. Some team members simply want to learn how to run projects and generate buy-in across various teams.
LDU is an opt-in program that is available to every employee. Whereas some companies only provide leadership training to managers, we at Gravity believe that leadership is not tied to a role or title. Anyone in any role can lead.
We offer 2-3 LDU courses per month on an array of topics, from Public Speaking to Negotiation. Gravity team members who attend all of the LDU “core classes” along with all of the courses within the People Leadership track or Project Leadership track graduate from the program with a certificate and recognition in front of the company.
We were inspired by the “TED commandments” (TED’s list of ten rules for speakers who give TED talks) to create our own list of guidelines. Our training guidelines encourage speakers to do things like tell stories, incorporate props, and summarize key takeaways for the audience.
Trainers are held accountable to these guidelines by a Gravity task force team that vets every training before it’s presented to a live audience. The task force provides feedback to ensure the session will be engaging and memorable for attendees.
After each LDU session, we distribute and collect feedback forms to gauge the effectiveness of the session and gather insights for how to improve future trainings. We ask a few qualitative questions and also ask attendees to grade the speaker’s level of preparation and how likely the attendee would be to recommend that training to others.
Overall, the most fulfilling part of the program has been hearing the impact LDU has had on various teams and team members. Our Support team used principles from the training on “Increasing Focus” to improve the way they distribute work across the team. Our Team Advocates team (HR) used concepts from the “Leading Meetings” session to revamp the team’s daily and weekly meetings and make them more productive. Individual employees have drawn from the LDU “Giving Feedback” training to improve the way they share tough messages with other team members.
Leadership Development University at Gravity is just one more way we’re putting people before profit.
By Bobby Powers, Head of Learning and Development
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