In 2018, DISTek began an internal training program called DISTek University, affectionately known as “DISTek U”. This training leverages off-the shelf training resources to develop a common foundation for DISTek’s employee owners to build their careers on. DISTek U promotes collaboration and camaraderie among all DISTekians, regardless of position or geographic location. DISTek leadership strongly encourages all employee owners to participate in these trainings – which help both the employee owner and employer. DISTek can point to numerous examples of promoting individuals to leadership positions after successful course completion and exceptional job performance.
There are currently three (3) main tracks – Leadership, ESOP, and Engineering. Within each track, there are multiple courses ranging from basic to advanced topics. Typically, a course from each track is selected and covered within a calendar year. Employee owners request to participate in courses through a rigorous application process to ultimately be selected in the course. DISTek requests feedback at the end of every course for two main reasons. One, to improve the training offering, and two, gain valuable feedback from its future leaders. Up to this point, the reviews have been glowing, with employees most grateful of the decision DISTek has made/is making/will make to invest in their personal and professional lives.
Why would DISTek offer DISTek U and the different tracks presented above? There are three (3) key takeaways. First, leadership is key to DISTek’s near term and long-term success. Second, DISTek wants to identify and equip employee owners with a leadership potential and desire much earlier than it has in the past. Third, DISTek wants to invest in early leadership training to develop a strong leadership foundation that better prepares leaders for their new roles.
My personal experience with DISTek U consisted of completing 101: Potential Lead Track and 201: New Lead Track courses within the Leadership track. The U 101 track consisted of a longer book session and a final paper. The U 201 course consisted of two book sessions, seven classes/seminars and a final capstone project. All participants were engaged and willing to participate in thoughtful dialogue while also debating key topic areas. Homework was assigned for certain parts of the books. In addition, certain other key topics were also brought forth – ranging from DISTek financials, client communications, and learning more about our ESOP. For the finale of the U 201 course, capstone proposals were presented to the DISTek Leadership Team (all employees were invited to attend locally or via teleconference). Overall, I would recommend the DISTek U tracks to all employee owners and am proud to work for a company who values their employee owners so highly and is willing to invest in training to make their workforce better.
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