The current situation – Personal development is key
Tensing has been a specialist in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Location Information for over 30 years. In doing so, one thing has always remained the same: you will find the best ArcGIS and FME experts, from Young Professionals to the most senior experts.
In January 2020, Tensing joined the global organization of the American Avineon group. Tensing’s role within this concern? Provide highly specialized advice and knowledge in the European region. To grow further in this, Tensing is going to scale up the team substantially in the coming years, both in the Netherlands and abroad. That step has already been taken, and in the Netherlands alone, no fewer than 15 new colleagues have been added over the past 2 years. And that in this day and age!
To properly support all employees in career and their personal development, the Tensing Talent Tracks were developed in 2018. These Talent Tracks were created from the perspective that personal development of each individual contributes to the development and growth of Tensing. It covers all possible roles within Tensing and has a cycle of conversations between a career coach and a coachee. The coach is a senior employee within Tensing chosen by the coachee. There are 3 formal touch points per year for planning goals (Personal Development Plan) and evaluating on them (Mid-term Evaluation & Reward Ceremony). There are also frequent 1-1 coaching calls. Within this cycle, the coachee attends various trainings to obtain the necessary certifications within the field. In doing so, the coachee can take advantage of various training subscriptions Tensing has made with knowledge institutes.
In short, Tensing puts a lot of emphasis on personal development and has a nice framework in place to make it happen. Still, there was plenty of room for improvement.
The challenges – Facilitating the coach-coachee relationship
Shaping the Tensing Talent Tracks was a very important first step. The next challenge was the translation into practice. The first step in this process is pairing the right coach with the right coachee. Then both parties were asked to get to work on the cycle of conversations and documenting them. Milou van der Velden, Talent Specialist at Tensing, talks more about this.
We did have documents and templates that could be used for setting up objectives and soliciting feedback, but these files got emailed back and forth a lot, got lost and, as a result, did not provide enough input for having a good substantive conversation. In short, the process was time-consuming and the administration was difficult for all involved to manage.”
Throughout the organization, work is based on the idea of continuous improvement. So naturally, over time, there were signals from staff and coaches that this process needed to be better. This resulted in Tensing looking for a solution to improve the entire talent experience. This solution had to be facilitative for both staff and coaches. Thus the partnership with Learned was created.
The impact – Inadequate connection of Talent Tracks to practice
One thing became clear to Tensing. The need for the Talent Tracks was certainly there, but there was also a need for a system that connected to this framework. Together with Talent Specialist Milou, we set the following goals: Implementing and translating the entire Talent Tracks into the Learned platform, facilitating employee development and making it more fun and easier to develop yourself. Everything in one digital environment.
Leading up to our collaboration, I looked at several other platforms. However, Tensing’s framework fits Learned best. Learned is innovative and responds well to making learning and skills insightful with a user-friendly interface. In addition, I thought it was cool that it is a Dutch startup with young people and impressive clients, such as YoungCapital,” Milou says.
The start – Content conversations with digital features and skills
The first project Tensing began working on with Learned was revamping the job center. Based on the Learned skill set, the functions are now expressed for the first time as skills based on 5 skill levels. Shortly after this improvement effort followed the training and launch of Learned with then the first formal conversation to create the Personal Development Plan.
An internal review was recently conducted on this first call with all coaches. They were extremely pleased with this new way of working in Learned. Not only had the process for scheduling and recording interviews become much easier, but in particular having a substantive conversation about the coachee’s job, skills and ambitions was a crucial improvement.
Key results – 100% participation and & 34% more goals
Last Feb. 12, Learned was officially launched within Tensing. At the time of writing this story (late May), it may be a bit early to state whether all the goals have been achieved, but Milou does state that we are definitely moving in the right direction! Consequently, in the relatively short time frame, great results have already been achieved. First, we are seeing considerable progress in the number of calls made. In addition to the formal personal development plan call, 100% of all employees also completed the first three monthly 1-1 calls. In addition to the increased frequency, there is also more consistency in the quality of the calls. Conversation templates have been created within Learned that include relevant questions/topics that coach-coaches can use when conducting a conversation. Furthermore, concrete insight into, for example, the employee’s goals or the job profile with associated skills also provides filler for a good conversation.
Tensing also switched with Learned to working with goals on a quarterly rather than annual basis. As a result, goals are discussed more frequently and, according to Milou, are now achieved more quickly. According to Milou, 34% more goals have already been set than before working with Learned. “Achieving the goal immediately gives people more motivation to start with a new goal. We also see this reflected in the use of Learned. We see that employees log in between five and 10 times a month on average!”
So all in all, the first few months with Learned at Tensing have gone very well. According to Milou, both the support from Learned and the internal commitment of management played an important role in this. Learned offered appropriate support and materials through its digital help center in addition to training. In addition, Tensing’s management quickly adopted the Learned platform and clearly communicated the goals internally. Of course, we are not there yet and together we still have great goals for the future. First on the agenda is the exchange of 360° feedback on the skills from the job profile. Next, we want to further facilitate the development of new skills by setting up the Tensing training library in Learned. In short, still plenty to work on together. We are looking forward to it!