[Interview happened in Sep 2020]
I have an interview with a special guest: Romell Thomas, who commands an important role as the Center Learning Officer at NASA. He is responsible for all learning and development policies, processes, and the budget for the Johnson Space Center. I met Romell last year during a session I delivered in Houston to a group of NASA employees.
Learnings from the pandemic
This time, we discuss if the organisation managed to take off during the crisis? How has the journey been, & what are some of the learnings?
Mr. Thomas shares that since the start of the lockdown, around 60,000 people in their workforce have been working remotely. Only crucial functions (like onsite engineers in mission control) were allowed to work in the offices. Due to the lockdown, a lot of procedures had to be revised, and this led to a great efficiency boost.
New onboarding procedures
‘A good example is our boarding and exiting procedures. These procedures were really outdated, and due to this forced change, we could create a more simple & efficient process to perform these activities. No need for a lot of different signatures from HR, administration, guards, … because everything is done digitally. Now, we prepare things far in advance, where in the past it was triggered by a question from a new employee.’
‘Another big implication of the whole crisis is how our leadership functions. The supervisors have to work with more trust and micro-management isn’t possible anymore. This was quite a big challenge for several leaders and for that reason, we focussed a lot of attention on them to support this transition. A few things that we’ve done with them:
A bigger talent pool