SARA VILLANUEVA, PhD

Senior Director, Learning & Development and DEI/Engagement

goodwill-central-texas-logo
Good management is worth investing in

CASE STUDY

Goodwill Central Texas

Mission:
Transforming generations by empowering people through education, career training and work.
 
MGR360 Client Since:
July 2020
 
Project Sponsors:
CEO, Board of Directors, and Senior Executive Group 
 
Managers Trained with MGR360:
39

MGR360 Services Delivered:
  • Organizational Maturity Assessment
  • CEO Masterclass
  • Board Development & Team Building
  • Senior Executive Group Development & Team Building
  • Manager Development & Team Building
  • CliftonStrengths and DISC Assessment
 

Since its beginning in 1902, Goodwill Industries has expanded to 182 cities in the United States and 34 countries. Each Goodwill location is autonomous, although they all share a common philosophy of assisting people with disabilities or other critical needs in their efforts to work. Goodwill Central Texas (GCT) operates as a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization that helps more than 13,000 people fulfill their potential, improve the lives of their families, and contribute to the growth of the community each year. 

Sara Villanueva, Senior Director of Learning & Development and DEI/Engagement at GCT, is responsible for the training and career development of GCT’s own team members, to ensure that the organization is fully enabled to deliver on its mission. With a doctorate in psychology, Sara is keenly aware of how organizational dynamics and interpersonal skills impact results, and the positive outcomes of teams working together toward shared goals. A self-proclaimed lifelong learner, she loves to create work environments in which people can learn new skills to achieve objectives and advance their careers.

Throughout her career, however, she has observed how poor manager behavior and insufficient manager support can impede organizational success. She points to three common issues managers face in the workplace, each of which MGR360 addresses head-on:

  1. The most common issue, she says, is communication. Managers sometimes assume their employees understand what needs to be done and why, when, in fact, haphazard communication up and down organizational hierarchies results in poor alignment on key goals.

  2. Another common managerial shortcoming, Sara says, is conflict avoidance. When managers fail to have difficult conversations with their team members, opportunities for business improvement are missed.

  3. A third issue she has observed is a lack of empathy. Managers often are so goal-focused that they do not take the time to build relationships and understand what motivates their employees. This lack of empathy can include challenges around diversity, equity, and inclusion, with some leaders being afraid of tackling them. This, she says, can give the appearance of indifference and a lack of caring.
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Some programs and workshops are just not effective. But a few are really, really good.

Sara was introduced to MGR360 by GCT’s leadership team, who had all been through the training before she joined the organization. Having evaluated many employee development offerings during her career, Sara says she was at first a little skeptical. “Some programs and workshops are just not effective,” she says. “Some offer good content, but the delivery is boring and not enjoyable. Others don’t model the behavior they are trying to teach. Many don’t include tools that can be put to use in the workplace immediately. But a few training offerings,” she says, “are really really good.” 

Before attending the MGR360 training, Sara read the materials and reviewed the backgrounds of the coaches. She was pleased to see that the MGR360 team had done its own research to understand the GCT organization and its manager development needs, and that the training had been customized to address those specific needs.

Sara and some of her colleagues attended MGR360 training at Texas CEO Ranch, outside of Austin. Even though pandemic safety precautions were necessary, Sara says it was wonderful to connect as a team, in person, and experience the MGR360 program together. It was helpful, she says, that the executive leadership team had already done the training; this created a common vocabulary and point of reference for the organization. 

A valuable component of the training, she says, are the manager tools provided. These include a comprehensive workbook, a self-directed roadmap, and a deck of 1-on-1 meeting cards for getting the most value out of these weekly meetings with employees. All the managers who attended the training, she says, are now using these tools when working with their teams. 

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MGR360 training has created a really solid foundation for our own, unique leadership training and development program going forward.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the MGR360 training, Sara says, is the way it forces managers to be introspective. “We’re often so busy getting the job done that we don’t stop to ask ourselves, ‘How am I doing as a manager?’” It is important, she continues, for managers to reflect on how well they are developing and supporting their employees. “Being a good manager is important and it’s worth investing in,” she concludes.  

When recommending the MGR360 training program to others, Sara offers two considerations: First, lead coach Joel Trammell is a “battle-tested” CEO and author with the credentials and real-world experience to back up the program’s content and bring it to life. Second, the delivery is excellent, with enjoyable, interesting, and novel content, exercises, and activities to keep attendees fully engaged. Sara emphasizes the value of creating a common language for the organization and having resources that can be used immediately in the real world. 

All GCT managers have received MGR360 training, including the executive leadership team and the board of directors. Sara explains how important this is because everyone is now on the same page. “MGR360 training,” she says, “has created a really solid foundation for our own, unique leadership training and development program going forward.”

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