Winning Ways

The Haskell Company takes the top spot on the 2024 Training APEX Awards, cementing its second consecutive #1 ranking.

Architecture, engineering, and construction firm The Haskell Company followed its blueprint for organizational growth and success straight to the top of the 2024 Training APEX Awards list for the second consecutive year, making it eligible for induction into the Training Hall of Fame in 2025 after four Top 10 rankings in a row.

Haskell went through an organizational structure shift to an enterprise model in 2023, helping teams to closer align to their functions and better support the markets Haskell serves. “We believe in serving our clients with excellence and delivering best-in-class customer experiences that emanate from their point of view,” according to The Haskell Company Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President jim O’Leary.

“Aligning to Haskell 2025—our strategic vision through the end of 2025—and focusing on our core values of Team, Excellence, Service, and Trust has served as a guiding star, fostered consistency, and allowed for a clear trajectory for success,” notes Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer David Thaeler. “By staying true to our roadmap, we’ve allowed our teams to focus their efforts, allocate resources effectively, and build coherent business plans.”

To help achieve that goal, Haskell continued to double down on its investment in the development of its team members. Training staff increased 21 percent and the training budget expanded by 10 percent in 2023, says Brooke jones-Chinetti, vice president of Learning, Development & Engagement (LD&E), who recently was promoted and is now an officer of the company. This investment is blended between leadership development and honing team members’ technical skills in their fields.


Haskell’s Quality Performance Training Program was created to improve quality in real time throughout the construction lifecycle and raise overall discipline around quality processes to help strengthen client satisfaction.

The company utilizes an industry-first quality control software to identify construction processes that fall short of quality targets established with the client and automatically assign remediating content in Haskell University, followed by leader reviews to monitor outcomes. Used throughout all construction phases, the program aims to improve scores for two critical performance indicators: Quality Implementation Plan (QIP), which reflects how well Haskell delivered on its quality commitments to a client, and Quality Performance Rating (QPR), an overall client report card. In addition, it is designed to raise overall quality process consistency, such as regular QIP reviews and on-time monthly quality report close-outs.

The training is two-fold. In part one, which is required, team members learn to use the software and how it tracks their project’s quality metrics in real time. Asynchronous, 30-minute sessions are delivered via the learner’s choice of microlearning, virtual instructor- led training (vILT), or screencast (the video+audio equivalent of a screenshot). These sessions demonstrate quality review processes such as correcting quality task deficiencies and closing out projects, and explain how performance algorithms calculate QIP and overall QPR scoring based on process execution.

Part two happens only if QIP or QPR scoring misses a target benchmark. The software then automatically assigns the relevant training to the entire team, drawing on a growing content library of more than 25 mobile-friendly, 5- to 15-minute how-to videos approved by field leadership and available worldwide. “This training innovation enables real-time skills remediation and course correction on topics such as Grouting, Tilt Panel Installation, and Single-Ply Roofing Installation,” says Michael McLauchlan, director of Field Technical Training.

HASKELL’S Learning, Development & Engagement Team
HASKELL’S Learning, Development & Engagement Team

Since implementation, team members across 10 of Haskell’s 12 business units have completed more than 1,400 courses. Jones-Chinetti says this tech+training approach has contributed to an increase of 150 percent in QIP reviews completed vs. a target of 100 percent, and a reduction of overdue monthly close-out reports to just four, meeting the goal of fewer than five. Enterprise QIP average scores of 8.76 (on a 10-point scale) exceeded the target by 3 percent, and overall QPR average scores of 83.47 (on a 100-point scale) were 4 percent over the target.


In response to employees’ request for more soft skills training offerings, Haskell’s LD&E team went on a listening tour with its leaders. The Intangibles Series, for example, is a response to a challenge from Haskell’s head of Business Development and Marketing to close gaps in four skills this leader deemed critical to successful client pitches: credibility, situational awareness, grit, and influence. Each module in this four-part, instructor-led series is a quick, 30-minute burst of learning via Zoom, with two modules offered each month on a rotating basis.

“Based on research from Ivy League professors and psychology experts such as Angela Duckworth, Robert Cialdini, and Chris Voss, the modules are meant to help team members learn to read their audience, use tactical vulnerability, and utilize empathy and other emotional intelligence tools to build trust and improve their executive presence,”Jones-Chinetti says.

Each of the four interactive sessions aims to generate learning through discussion:

1. Credibility: This session reviews multiple avenues to establishing credibility with team members, as well as with clients and potential clients, especially in sales situations.

2. Situational Awareness: This session is essentially “reading the room on steroids,” covering a mix of logical reasoning, tacit knowledge, and social prowess that can be honed over time. It provides tools on assessing potential risks, understanding emotions, and cultivating more self-awareness.

3. Grit: Learners unpack how to develop grit through self-awareness, habit-building, and changing one’s system of follow-through, and how to apply these skills at Haskell.

4. Influence: Learners gain skills in influence through productive inquiry, getting to the root of a problem by anticipating outcomes.

Although initially designed for the Business Development team, Jones-Chinetti says the learning proved so beneficial that the program was made available to all team members and quickly became one of Haskell’s best-attended collection of courses.


Requests for new and more training content continue to pour in from Haskell’s employees. In response, the team created LD&E Lightning Rounds. Offered three times monthly, these approximately 20-minute Zoom sessions cover popular training subjects and hot business topics aligned to Haskell competencies. A companion podcast, The Haskell Experience, is available on demand on Spotify and further explores each topic.

“Topics include ‘Making the Most of Your 1:1s,’ ‘Give Thanks! Tools for Meaningful Recognition,’ and ‘Imposter Syndrome,’” Jones-Chinetti says. “Sometimes the Lightning Rounds work in reverse: For example, positive feedback on a session called ‘Energy Mapping’ led to a new course, Energy & Attention: Methods for Success.”


Critical insights garnered from Haskell’s 2022 Engagement Survey led the company to develop the Haskell Supervisor Experience. While overall engagement scores remained high, the scores for people leads (managers: 49 percent engaged; directors: 59 percent engaged) revealed room for improvement, Jones-Chinetti says. Delving deeper, Haskell found managers scored lowest on understanding their expectations at work, emphasizing the necessity for clarity and support during their transition from individual contributors to new people leaders.

Extensive research and collaboration with senior leaders drove the creation of Supervisor Expectations—a set of clear directives aligned with Haskell’s values and strategic roadmap. These expectations formed the foundation for Haskell’s new Supervisor Experience, which includes:

  • The New Supervisor Connection: This 45minute self-guided training (co-created by Haskell’s executive team) is designed to help supervisors understand what is expected of them. This is done within 30 days of arrival at the company or promotion.
  • Supervisor Series: Some 13.5 hours of instruction are completed over the course of a year; they cover both managerial and leadership development and are facilitated by Haskell’s leadership development team.
  • The New Supervisor Check-Ins: These checkins are done by the leadership team throughout the first year as a supervisor at Haskell.

The LD&E team centralized all leadership development resources into the Haskell Leadership Hub, providing a one-stop destination for supervisors seeking guidance and tools for their moment of need and developmental opportunities for their growth.

The outcomes were substantial, Jones-Chinetti says, manifesting in increased manager engagement rates (52 percent), maintained low disengagement levels (4 percent), and a notable decrease in manager and above turnover (13 percent).


Like many organizations today, Haskell is cautiously exploring the use of artificial intelligence (AI), both for training and within the business. Haskell’s training teams are beginning to use AI to scan videos and provide a summary for quizzing and study note development; employ AI-generated voiceovers for training videos; utilize generative AI to remove gaps in videos and improve the viewing experience; and use ChatGPT to assist with outline creation in the instructional design process.

“Across Haskell, leaders are assessing where and how our teams can use AI, whether that be in our design and consulting practice or how we can use it across construction and project delivery,” Jones-Chinetti says. “Throughout planning last year, AI was top of mind as leaders worked through strategy for maintaining confidentiality of company and customer information, as well as maintaining the right balance with the human decision-maker in the process.”

Moving forward, Jones-Chinetti says, Haskell’s development professionals and leaders will need to work together to enhance skills for effective collaboration with Al. “Continued identification of those skills will come from assessing the tasks needed to be done to implement our industry-specific Al. From there, we can map our current competencies and skills to those tasks before developing new skills needed to bridge these gaps.”


Personalized learning paths and development frameworks are a focus for Haskell in 2024, Jones-Chinetti says. “We’ve spent the last few years working on being ‘brilliant with the basics’ to get us there.”

In the next year, under the moniker, “myDevelopment,” Haskell will build its development framework and customized individual learning paths that will spring from clear foundational and functional competencies and a subsequent skill matrix. “These paths will incorporate assessments on skill levels to make recommended development suggestions that will be incorporated in individual development plans,” says Janet True, director of Learning Standards & Practices.

Jones-Chinetti believes companies need to take a hard look at their current approach to development and ask themselves if they have done the laborious work to ensure they’ll be able to adapt to the technologies that will be made available. “Detailed competency and skill identification and alignment needs to be clear and consistent,” she adds. “If this isn’t ready, none of the technology will matter.”

On the technology front, Jones-Chinetti predicts usage of learning experience platforms (LXPs) will continue to increase in the next three to five years. “These platforms can offer comprehensive learning ecosystems that integrate various types of content, social learning features, and robust analytics,” she says. “As they continue to build out, these platforms can facilitate the holistic learning experience that team members and leaders crave: personalized content, collaboration with peers and leaders, and clear progress tracking. With training no longer linear, employees will want to work for a company that provides agile access to personal and professional development.”

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.