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Learning and Development—Taking Shape & Structure

Manson’s Learning & Development Department (L&D) was formed in 2020 to coordinate and enhance the various training activities that were happening across the company. Needing an organizing structure for Manson’s whole learning enterprise, the L&D created the Manson Learning Network (MLN), which is fully inclusive of all the courses, learning activities, and contributory members throughout the company. The MLN is the collaborative efforts of the L&D with all other departments at Manson, creating formal and informal learning events aimed at making us all better at our work and thereby a better place to work.

Once all existing Manson learning activities were accounted for and the Manson Safety Database (now called the Training Records & Experience System, or T-Rex) was assessed, we found more than 300 courses listed in the catalog of Manson Training. Additionally, a very small—and admittedly important—subset of nine courses claimed the title Manson University. That presented an awkward arrangement: nine courses constituting a ”University” and nearly 300 others inhabiting some “non-university” existence. To more accurately reflect its course subjects and its relationship to all the other Manson courses, it made sense to reclassify Manson University as the Project Management & Operations Program.

The restructuring of learning at Manson and the approach of the MLN collaborative is intended to take our training program to the next level, explains Manson President & CEO John Holmes.

“It’s more than just courses; it’s the whole partnership of people around Manson working to create learning experiences of all kinds that will make us a more effective and competitive company,” John says.

In Fall of 2021, the L&D conducted a handful of workshops to evaluate whether the courses we currently had were sufficient for training operations staff, and if not, to identify additional courses or learning experiences that were needed. After organizing and analyzing more than 1,100 inputs from nearly 90 Manson employees, a new learning architecture for the MLN emerged. The new MLN structure is comprised of the four Program Areas shown below.

MLN'S Four Program Areas

The Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Program

To no one’s surprise, the most comprehensive program area by far is Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS). Of the 316 courses that comprise the MLN, 205 are safety-related courses. In fact, there are so many EHS courses that the L&D and EHS departments are restructuring how courses get assigned to employees. The first phase of that effort has created the Core Learning Requirements (CLRs) that assign the basic safety training requirements to personnel based on their work environment and the related hazards they regularly encounter in their jobs. Employees can see their CLRs by logging into the T-Rex System found on the MLN SharePoint page.

Teams from Manson’s Jacksonville Workshop event discussed and recorded their thoughts on identifying skill gaps for several project roles. Photo credit: Thomas Barrett—Director of Learning & Development

The next phase of assigning safety courses is currently being developed and we hope to roll that out in the near future. As Forrest Ray, Manson’s new EHS Director explains, “The MLN is partnering with EHS to transform safety training at Manson to improve the quality of training and make the biggest impact on our field personnel working on projects. Later this year you will be seeing new training topics with improved content as a result of the strong partnership between MLN and EHS.” Collaborative development with EHS and the Operations group will include upgrading the rigging training program and the Lock Out/Tag Out training program, as well as developing more Environmental Protection courses.

The Project Management & Operations (PMO) Program

The PMO Program, like nearly all training programs, was constrained by the pandemic. However, during that time, many of the nine Modules were reconfigured from single densely packed classes taught in-person, to smaller more comprehensible courses many of which will be taught in the Adobe Connect virtual classroom. According to Senior Vice President and West Coast Regional Manager Ryan King, “Our goal is to teach our Manson people the knowledge and skills in smaller chunks so they can practice with it, connect it to their jobs and learn it better as a result. We want each module to be focused to ensure that it is timely, efficient, and effective for our people.” Employees can look out for newly designed PMO courses on Cost Management, Change Orders, and Risk Management, and can find the full list of PMO courses on the MLN SharePoint site.

Construction & Dredging Technical Education (CDTE) Program

During the evaluation workshops, the areas identified as a top need for course development were subjects related to Construction and Dredging Technical Education (CDTE). Brad Martin, Vice President & Equipment Manager, emphasizes the importance of this program area. “Learning the technical aspect of our work at Manson has traditionally been OJT [on-the-job-training],” he explains. “We can improve on and accelerate that by having a smartly designed program that gives our teams a jump start on learning those important concepts and establishes consistent operations across the company.” Brad will be assisting the MLN to develop a Derrick Barge Equipment Fundamentals course this year. Additional future courses may include Plans, Specifications & Project Requirements; Pier Falsework Operations; and Pile Driving Operations.

People, Development, and Leadership (PDL) Program

The final Program Area brings together courses in the broad areas of People, Development, and Leadership (PDL). This is somewhat of a catch-all category that includes courses such as Cybersecurity Awareness, Preventing Workplace Harassment, and the Manson Code of Ethics. The PDL area has great potential for course expansion, including a Field Leadership Program, Manson Manager/Supervisors Fundamentals, and training courses for Manson’s new enterprise management system.

“The company wide effort to coordinate and enhance training programs across Manson so that they are more effective and accessible is exciting,” says Director of L&D, Thomas Barrett. “This is a huge task, but one that is taking shape more and more every month. There are so many people throughout the company who are working with the L&D Department to expand our Manson Learning Network. This year we will make more learning opportunities available at Manson than ever before.”

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