POET calls this training ‘one of the most successful things we’ve been able to deploy’

Oct. 18, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by the USD Beacom School of Business executive education program.

A few POET managers were taking a course in negotiation when they realized they needed to expand the classroom.

“We realized our biorefinery folks who have to make decisions every day in purchasing equipment or services need this training as well,” regional vice president Mike Dishman said.

They thought about putting together a course internally but realized they would be better served with expertise from a third party. After interviewing potential partners, the USD Beacom School of Business proved the right fit.

“Their internal leadership team had a vision and saw the potential to have an enterprisewide impact,” said Venky Venkatachalam, dean of the USD Beacom School.

“You have to give them credit for having the confidence in us to jump into a model that brings the whole corporation into it. POET saw the value and trusted our abilities.”

Customizing a course

POET began working with the executive education program to develop a customized curriculum.

“They asked a lot of good questions and wanted to know exactly what we were looking for,” Dishman said.

Executive education program director Linda Halliburton and Beacom assistant professor Tyler Custis even visited POET’s plant near Hudson.

“We took them through the whole process and showed how negotiations happen and where they impact the business, and that was very helpful,” Dishman said.

The course developed includes scenarios specific to what POET employees encounter in their work and has been offered two times at three locations – University Center in Sioux Falls and sites in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Des Moines,  allowing employees from 27 POET locations to attend.

“We can offer any course at any location that a company might want,” Halliburton said. “In this case, it was important to provide  employees with the same course and skill set regardless of the plant location. It helps to build a corporate philosophy or culture around specific concepts and practices. It also cements the company’s ability to set goals and measurements that are consistent across the all plant locations.”

Custis delivered the eight-hour course in person over two days. In between, POET used time for team building.

The course was supplemented with a reinforcement video to remind participants of key concepts and how to apply them.

“Because Linda was as engaged as she was, attending all the courses and making sure they were delivering what they said they were going to deliver, I felt like we were all on the same team,” Dishman said. “And I can’t overstate how energetic Tyler Custis is as an instructor. He made it really enjoyable to sit through that class, and I sat through it four times.”

The results

The response from POET employees to their training has been enthusiastic and led to significant results.

“The level of energy that this training delivered was awesome,” one participant wrote in reviewing the course.

“There was no opportunity to get lost or bored … and the role-playing was fun. The building of training to our business and the scenarios we sometimes deal with makes it easier to apply to work in the long term. I understand – and appreciate – the amount of time put into this for us.”

Along with providing professional development to employees, the skills delivered in the course have helped them achieve noticeable savings already, Dishman said.

“I’ve had team members send in information on their negotiations, and they’ve already paid for the education in the savings they’ve been able to achieve,” he said. “It’s probably been one of the most successful things we’ve been able to deploy at POET to benefit the company and the team member.”

Ultimately, this type of executive education should be defined by ROI, added Dean Venkatachalam.

“We are proactively asking those questions to measure the effectiveness of our programs and help businesses succeed. That’s the key. That’s why I call it a strategic partnership. We are not just a vendor that delivers a program.”

The school’s ability to deliver customized executive education to businesses with operations nationwide is a differentiator, USD leaders said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about what will help the company best meet their goals. Growing companies that want to ensure their success recognize that all of their operations need to have access to the same high-quality professional development,” Halliburton said.

“We are working with another Sioux Falls-based company that has acquired divisions in two other states and expect that we will be delivering similar programs at all of their locations.”

They also will be back to teach executives at POET.

“We’ll definitely do this class again, and we’ll be looking for additional services we find we can’t do in-house,” Dishman said.

“Hopefully other companies will see there’s value in it and see you can go to a major university and ask them to tailor a course for you and you can do it. USD is finding ways to be very fast-moving and agile, and you don’t’ expect that from an academic institution. They have the right business mind in that school. It works.”

To explore ways the USD Beacom School of Business executive education program can work with your organization, call 605-274-9519 or email ExecEd@usd.edu.

POET calls this training ‘one of the most successful things we’ve been able to deploy’

“They’ve already paid for the education in the savings they’ve been able to achieve.” Learn why POET is calling this training one of its best investments yet.

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