Employee Development with Ian Lastorino

Share this blog:

Meet Ian Lastorino, our Talent Development Manager at Guidepoint. Ian is dedicated to cultivating professional growth and fostering a culture of continuous learning among our employees. With a wealth of experience in talent development strategies, he plays a key role in aligning individual career aspirations with Guidepoint’s overarching goals. Dive into the Q&A below to learn more about talent development at Guidepoint.

What is the primary goal of talent development at Guidepoint?

Ian: The primary goal of Talent Development is to help employees excel in their current roles, grow within the organization, and continue to excel in all roles along their career trajectory with Guidepoint.

We want employees to not only start on day one with an understanding of how to perform their jobs, but provide them the tools for continuous learning as they take on more responsibilities. This also means providing teams with the resources they need to impart their knowledge on new joiners, and ensure best practices are standardized and shared across teams.

How does Guidepoint help employees figure out their career paths and development along that career path?

Ian: For our Client Service team we have developed documents that outline career progression in a straightforward, near-annual promotion pathway, along with all anticipated skills that will need to be developed in order to achieve success in these roles. To help them achieve these skill sets, we provide outlined and curated LinkedIn Learning curricula on our LMS that are aligned with each skillset at every role up to Team Lead.

For our teams with less linear progressions, we offer a series of LinkedIn Learning modules designed to teach a variety of soft skills and technical that could be used at any level, or to help them achieve the next. These resources are all searchable on our LMS, and can even be assigned by managers.

We are also in the process of creating a new goal-setting and succession-planning process for managers, designed to help them identify strengths and areas of opportunity, to help their team members stay motivated, develop key skills, and perform gap training when needed. This process surrounds a conversation with employees about where they would like to see themselves in their careers, and is bolstered by our Management Training.

Can you share an example of a recent successful talent development initiative at Guidepoint?

Ian: The most recent successful talent development initiative was our implementation of a Learning Management System, and simultaneous rollout of a standardized global onboarding path. This was a two part effort to both streamline and ease the training burden on teams, by providing a structured mix of virtual training and in-person shadowing sessions, while allowing us to track progress and monitor efficacy through feedback.

Historically training at Guidepoint required each team to host multiple powerpoint style trainings within the first week, with a slightly different training schedule for every team. We have since replaced all of those powerpoints with short videos, and provide structured shadowing sessions for every topic discussed. This allows teams to showcase their best practices for their clients in-action, ensures nothing is missed, and integrates more seamlessly with their day to day responsibilities.

This transition has also freed up more administrative time, allowing us to shift our focus to similarly automating the promotion pathways of all roles as well.

How does Guidepoint ensure that talent development strategies are aligned with the company’s overall objectives?

Ian: My team has regular, bi-monthly check-ins with different teams, as well as weekly check-ins with our Global HR team. These meetings allow us to discuss and receive feedback on ongoing initiatives, share our ideas for moving forward, as well as hear about current pain points or areas of opportunity that they have noticed within their teams or regions. Additionally, due to Guidepoint’s structure as an organization, senior leaders frequently come to me (either directly or via conversations with the Director of Human Resources) for training needs, such as if organizational objectives shift or if they have discovered an issue that needs to be addressed in training content.

How does Guidepoint approach mentorship as part of its talent development efforts?

Ian: Cultivating mentorship as a formal strategy is something that we have not fully implemented, and has proven difficult in a post-covid world. However, we try to sow the seeds of mentorship at all levels through a variety of training efforts.

At the more junior level, particularly for our Client Service and Business Development teams, we provide ‘buddies’ to new joiners. These buddies are always more tenured employees, typically one level higher, and are recommended to be high performers. These buddies are the core of our shadowing sessions, and have a lot of direct interaction with new joiners, frequently commented on our surveys as being the best part of the onboarding process. From there, we also encourage new joiners to ask questions to their more senior team members, staying curious about best practices on new types of projects, as well as learning more about their day to day responsibilities.

At a more senior level, we provide management training to all people managers within the organization in a series called Management EDGE. This training puts a focus on knowledge sharing, coaching, and delegating as a teaching tool, rather than just as a way to distribute tasks.

Lastly, we are in the process of creating a transformational leadership series that will put a significant focus on teaching, leading, and coaching at the individual level, as well as for the group. It is my hope that by providing a framework and structure for frequent knowledge sharing between more junior and senior employees, we can begin to set up the foundation of a formal mentorship program.

What resources are available for employees looking to enhance their skills or pursue additional education?

Ian: We provide a couple of avenues for continuing skill development. In addition to our various live training initiatives available to all employees on topics such as Management, Communication, and technical training like Excel, we offer a variety of virtual courses that we have curated from LinkedIn Learning on our LMS. In addition to the curated content, each ~30 minutes to an hour maximum in length, employees have full access to the LinkedIn Learning library to explore and take courses on any topic.

In what ways does Guidepoint foster a culture of continuous learning among its employees?

Ian: We are tackling this from a couple different angles, as knowledge sharing (especially globally) has been a big priority for myself and my team. To start, we heavily emphasize shadowing and knowledge sharing at every level of our training, as often as we can. As employees discover new processes and techniques, they are encouraged by their supervisors to share this information with their team, as well as with my team so we can codify processes in the LMS, and share them with the organization at large.

All of our live training initiatives are designed with a “workshop” feel to them, where we encourage participation from all attendees through games, discussions and questions. This is not only to allow them to share information with one another, but to hear from a variety of levels to see if there are any practices that we aren’t currently teaching that we should be.

Lastly, we are always looking for ways to simplifying the delivery of continued training. Assigning the right modules to the right people at the right time in their careers through the LMS. This ensures that training is timely and relevant to the tasks they are completing, and helps them feel confident in their abilities, even when tackling something completely new. When training feels seamless, employees are more likely to continue pursuing it.

How does Guidepoint adapt its talent development programs to address evolving technologies and changes within the company?

Ian: Our most recent adaptation was moving towards an LMS to unify our approach to delivering and tracking training to our employees. Previously the training team provided a mix of in person presentations, shadowing sessions, videos and handouts on various sharepoint drives, surveys distributed through Qualtrics, and Preventing Workplace Harassment training through a platform called Everfi that had no connection to our HRIS system, meaning the HR team had to manually enter every employee and manually reach out to all of them to manage completion rates… And aside from that final Everfi option, we had no ability to track or measure the use of any of these methods. Within the LMS, we automatically import employees once they are in our system, trainings (legally mandated or otherwise) are automatically assigned and tracked, all resources are in one location and kept up to date, new hire check-in and course evaluation surveys are distributed automatically, and Managers can view their employee’s progress on all of it, even enrolling or assigning courses to members of their teams. The automation alone has been a huge boon to the HR and training team, reducing the amount of manual intervention needed. And, our ability to track attendance in live presentations in one system, as opposed to a collection of Excel spreadsheets on various shared drives has allowed us to truly gauge our outreach, and ensure duplicate invites aren’t being extended.

Beyond the scope of how we deliver our training, we are also continuously investigating the usage of ChatGPT in the Client Service position, looking into how teams are using it, what we should avoid for compliance purposes, and how it impacts our day to day operations. As new technologies continue to emerge and shape the way our employees perform their roles, we will always provide up to date training teaching them how to best utilize these tools to help them be as efficient as possible.

What advice do you have for employees looking actively engage in their own development?

Ian: The best resource I can ever recommend is your own curiosity. If you feel the drive to continue your development, that motivation is sometimes the most difficult step! Don’t let it sit there and wane while you wait on someone to step forward and teach you the skills you want to learn. While it may seem daunting to get started into something new from square one, outlets and avenues are readily accessible at your fingertips, and learning new skills has never been more attainable. The easiest way to get started is to ask questions.

Whether diving deep into the rabbit-hole on LinkedIn Learning, utilizing Google or ChatGPT to pick up new skills, or even working with a more senior member of your team to learn organically, the drive to learn something new is truly all it takes in our information age. Ask questions, take the initiative, and don’t hesitate to get started!

Learn how Guidepoint can help you with your research needs.