About Turner & Townsend
Turner & Townsend is an independent professional services company specializing in program management, project management, cost and commercial management and consulting across the real estate, infrastructure and natural resources sectors. From a single-entity quantity surveying partnership founded in the UK in 1946, Turner & Townsend has grown to 112 offices in 45 countries with more than 6,000 employees.
Employees seeking more mentorship and development
Kiabi Carson, Head of Human Resources, North America for Turner & Townsend oversees the full scope of HR functions across the rapidly expanding North America region, which has grown from approximately 175 employees to almost 1,000 in just eight years.
In 2016 she received feedback that employees were seeking out more mentorship and development opportunities. “We are a professional services firm,” says Carson, “We are constantly working and delivering for our clients, so that can make it difficult to find capacity for ourselves.”
Turner & Townsend needed to find a way to deliver mentoring and development to employees at scale.
Employee mentorship at scale with an integrated platform
When a former Vice President brought the idea of providing mentors through Torch to Carson, the scalability Torch provided resonated.
“With Torch I can impact a larger employee base than we could do on our own,” says Carson. “Additionally, Torch meets the needs of our employees for their personal development and creates a safe space for employees to be transparent about their challenges.”
Having access to Torch’s 6,000+ strong mentor community not only increased capacity for Turner & Townsend, but cultivated ongoing one-on-one relationships between employees and mentors who are real business leaders. As Carson says, “I love that Torch’s mentors are part of the business community and they just have more experience underneath their belt to help someone else. It makes their advice more real that they are business leaders who have lived through it and can share their experiences and learnings.”
From a budget perspective, Carson said Torch was much more cost-effective than any executive coaching program she’d seen before. “Most coaching programs are very expensive, which makes it hard to scale. You can only have a select group of employees participate because it becomes cost prohibitive. With Torch, we could have more people participate which was important,” says Kiabi.
Carson knew that a pilot would help prove the impact of Torch mentoring at scale. As she explains, “I take the view of testing it. Let’s pilot it, let’s see how it works, and that helps us show impact in our organization.”
A successful pilot leads to ongoing mentorship and development success
Turner & Townsend’s first cohort consisted of 18 employees, including the former VP who had brought the idea of mentoring through Torch to leadership. To create a more representative group, Carson sourced additional top talent who were open to further development opportunities.
When reflecting on how the individuals were chosen, Carson says she intentionally selected participants who contributed holistically to the organization, not only those in revenue-generating or management roles.
Throughout the first cohort’s engagement, Carson and her team received feedback via platform surveys on how satisfied participants were with the program overall and with their mentors. In addition to this quantitative feedback, Carson found that qualitative feedback in comments could be even more impactful. “I received many comments that gave me real life examples of what was working and its impact. I would take those comments, anonymized, to my board meetings and say, ‘Here’s what people are saying.’ When you can share people’s raw experiences and tell a story, it’s more impactful than what any set of data can do alone.”
Since their first cohort was a success, Turner & Townsend has been launching cohorts regularly since 2016.
Carson, with support from Torch, quickly implemented a landing page for employees to show interest in receiving mentoring. “The landing page made a huge difference,” says Carson. By asking people to self select into the program, they were afforded the choice to opt-in based on capacity. From this one change, Turner & Townsend ended up with more engaged cohorts who understood the commitment of being in a mentoring relationship.
Now, cohorts are composed of talented individuals that Turner & Townsend wants to differentially invest in. “Our employees feel that the company cares and we’re investing in them which is hugely impactful. We’re not just saying, ‘Let’s talk about your development solely in the context of Turner & Townsend and what it means for the company.’ We’re saying, ‘I want to invest in you because I think you’re worth it.’
The goal for Turner & Townsend is to continue offering new mentorship cohorts, ideally twice a year in sync with their promotion and compensation review cycle.
Interested in seeing what Torch can do for your company?