Business Center

Easing the Transition: How Change Management Helps the Transportation Core Curriculum Thrive

Campbell Pontin, Media & Marketing Intern
May 16, 2019


Transportation Core Curriculum's tenth anniversary event in 2017

Starting a new job can be difficult. New employees can be overwhelmed trying to learn new information and adapt to their new workplace. Allison Wilson, manager of the Transportation Engineering Training Program (TETP), helps mitigate this through the Transportation Core Curriculum (TCC). TCC is a week-long course that introduces new engineers to the project life cycle and the various disciplines they may encounter during their time at the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Helping New Employees Adapt to Change

One of the biggest barriers when starting a new job is the lack of knowledge regarding workplace processes and practices. The Transportation Core Curriculum helps to fill in those gaps through presentations by managers and supervisors from the 19 different disciplines within CDOT. “What the class does is give new engineers a high level heads up of how different disciplines work within the project life cycle. Within one week’s time, they get a lot of information to know who they need to work with and how to work with each of those departments to make a project happen,” explains Allison. Without the Transportation Core Curriculum, new engineers would not be exposed to the full project life cycle for months or even years. TCC speeds up this learning process by exposing new engineers to CDOT’s project life cycle process at the beginning of employment.

A major strength of TCC is that new employees get early exposure to executive management and supervisors. The bulk of the class is made up of training sessions designed and delivered by departmental supervisors who give new employees their first impressions of how pre-construction and construction projects are designed and delivered at CDOT.

Allison Wilson states, “I want our attendees to understand that the CDOT trainers delivering classes at the TCC are the subject matter experts in their specific fields. Most of the time this is their first opportunity to meet somebody from that department, and it’s also a good opportunity for supervisors to meet these new employees because they may be working with them on a job in the future.” Connecting students to these subject matter experts builds lasting relationships and creates the opportunity to ask any technical questions they may have, ultimately improving new hires’ ability to succeed.

TCC also emphasizes interactive exercises and hands-on activities to keep new employees engaged. Allison details, “Every day, CDOTers have challenges. As part of the weeklong TCC, they work on a group project that incorporates everything they’re learning during the week from the various disciplines. At the end of TCC, they have to present their project together.” These activities are crucial for fostering engineers’ abilities and helping new employees apply their newfound knowledge to a tangible project.

Always Room to Grow

Allison is committed to continuous improvement of TCC. To ensure that the course continues to meet new employee needs, they ask students to evaluate each class. These evaluations help guarantee trainers are up to standard and identify any possible areas of improvement. TCC participants rate each of the 19 disciplines presented. The TCC uses all the feedback to improve the curriculum for future years.

New employees aren’t the only ones who benefit from this. It is vital to TCC that the supervisors and subject matter experts who present are on board with the program. To maintain their support in this change process, Allison makes sure that they know their value to TCC. “I try to go above and beyond to make sure that they know I appreciate them because this is additional to their job, and they don’t have to do this. I send emails before final reviews to their supervisors thanking them for what they do for TCC every year.”

Allison used tools she learned in CDOT’s Change Management course to ensure that TCC effectively prepares new employees to handle the changes that come with starting a new job. The class itself is effectively a training plan - it teaches attendees how to adapt to change and fosters employees’ ability to implement these changes. Developing a sponsor coalition is also essential to ensure that employees get the information and support they need from TCC. TCC also leverages preferred senders and subject matter experts which helps employees understand the purpose of the change and retain information more effectively.

What's Next for the Transportation Core Curriculum?

TCC’s leaders understand that the key to the program’s success is continuous adaptation and evolution. Allison hopes to continue to leverage feedback surveys and subject matter experts to guarantee that TCC remains a compelling and efficient method for acclimating new employees to change. Thanks to Allison Wilson and the rest of the TCC team, CDOT’s new employees are equipped to succeed!

Want to learn more about Change Management at CDOT? Check out our improvement efforts at the Office of Process Improvement’s website! Or, for CDOT employees, stop by the Change Hub on our Intranet!