WIKA graduates first students from Leadership Academy
GTC Develops ‘Soft Skills’ Training to Help Supervisors Succeed
WIKA Instrument Corporation, the Lawrenceville-based manufacturer of mechanical pressure gauges and bimetal thermometers, graduated its first employees from the company’s new Leadership Academy last week.
Developed and delivered by instructors from Gwinnett Technical College specifically for WIKA, the Leadership Academy is customized for existing or up-and-coming supervisors to equip them with the tools to be successful leaders within the company.
“We realized that we were choosing to promote people for their technical skills – and many times those people would fail simply because they did not have the appropriate people skills to make them successful in their role,” said WIKA President Michael Gerster.
The new Leadership Academy will help the company continue to promote from within – but with better success rates, said Ron Taylor, human resources director for WIKA, which employs nearly 600 in its Gwinnett facility.
At the ceremony Gerster applauded the graduates for being ‘passionate employees.’ “These employees share the same vision with the company,” Gerster said. “We know that if we don’t keep changing, we’ll have to turn off the lights.”
The Leadership Academy is one example of the company’s efforts to make the changes that keep them competitive in an industry faced with many challenges.
While the company routinely implements on-the-job skills training, it had not done a lot of formal ‘soft skills’ training and assessments for potential supervisors, said Taylor.
The company turned to Gwinnett Tech for help in developing a challenging training plan to address these needed skills – resulting in WIKA’s Leadership Academy.
Gwinnett Tech customized WIKA’s training program to fit its exacting needs and designed it exclusively for its employees. WIKA’s training program – as with all of Gwinnett Tech’s customized training programs – included:
- an initial assessment of training needs;
- qualified instructors with relevant industry experience;
- customized training materials;
- coordination of training activities; and
- evaluation and follow-up.
WIKA determined which employees would be the first to embark in the program. The chosen participants met for eight hours every other week over a nine-month period with Gwinnett Tech instructors on the college’s campus. They were given numerous reading and other assignments, as well as group and individual projects before completing and graduating from the program.
The Leadership Academy prepares individuals for basic to advanced leadership roles through 144 hours of training in 18 areas, including fundamental leadership, communication, business writing, conflict resolution, ethics, diversity in the workplace, finance for managers, quality management systems and enforcing safety procedures. The second class of the Leadership Academy will begin in April.
“With this training, we’ve developed a win-win relationship with Gwinnett Tech – and we look forward to the future as [Gwinnett Tech instructors] nourish these graduates and other employees in upcoming training phases through the Leadership Academy,” Gerster said.