New career path program for ITD maintenance foremen launches July 1

Building on the success of its yearlong Transportation Technician Operations program, the Idaho Transportation Department adds a new career track for its Transportation Operations Team Leaders (TOTL) beginning July 1. The TOTL program will affect approximately 47 foremen statewide.

Both programs are the result of ITD implementing a Horizontal Career Path, which provides new opportunities for advancement within the agency. Horizontal Career Path is a performance-based system that allows ITD to reward employees based on their level of skill, the technical knowledge they acquire over time, and proven ability to achieve specific metrics.

TOTL metrics include both individual effort and meeting district-wide team standards in collaboration with other foremen.

Horizontal Career Paths were developed by the transportation department to provide new ways for employee advancement after the department reduced its layers of management from nine to five, eliminating many traditional opportunities for promotions within the agency.

At the same time, half of ITD’s employees will become eligible to retire in the next five years. The challenge is to replace the many skills and much institutional knowledge that will leave with that group.

The pilot program began last year with transportation technicians, who comprise one-third of ITD’s workforce. That group experienced a nearly 43-percent turnover for employees with less than one year of ITD experience, and their pay fell 15-20 percent below the level of Idaho counties and surrounding states.

Current foremen in the new training program track will have two years to complete a first step of training and two more years to complete step two. When the second step of the training is complete, TOTL status will be achieved.

Foremen will be competent in maintenance-project management, proficient in understanding and debriefing winter storm data, and effective at managing and empowering transportation technician teams. The expectation is that winter maintenance will be more effective and efficient

There is also a relationship between the winter-performance measures and winter highway fatalities and serious injuries -- the better the winter-performance measures, the lower the number of fatalities.

Technology and innovations are significantly changing the way ITD conducts winter highway maintenance. Decisions about winter maintenance will now be data driven and not dictated by what has been done in the past.

The training provides staff an opportunity to increase skills and knowledge, along with the training and support necessary to face new and different challenges.

Going forward, foremen will have a greater impact on district-wide decisions, and transportation technicians will become less dependent on foremen to accomplish their own work.

The state of Idaho is currently looking at the department’s Horizontal Career Path program as a model for other state agencies to follow, and other state DOTs are looking at the program as a model for their own agencies.

Published 07-01-16