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ATD Dallas AXIS Awards recognize innovative organizations that achieve results in workplace learning and talent development. The AXIS Awards are open to small and large private, public and not-for-profit organizations from the DFW area.

Congratulations to the 2018 AXIS Awards Winners!

2018 AXIS Awards Winners:

Best in Show

Children's Health System of Texas

Change Management

1st Place - HMS Holdings

To fuel growth, HMS knew it needed to engage its workforce in the execution of a new strategy. They used a horizon-model strategy to ensure they gave equal weight to mature products that are driving growth today, as well as fueling a smart diversification strategy to sow the seeds of tomorrow's growth. To successfully accomplish this strategy change, it was critical that HMS invite the entire workforce to engage in a powerful way unlike anything they had done before.

The team selected an external partner, Kotter, to drive strategic transformation from the inside out, and to do it faster than initially believed possible. As the strategic approach solidified, HMS turned their attention to the needs of the workforce. They assessed those needs through analysis of business and people performance metrics, including business performance, retention and turnover statistics, employee engagement data and overall cultural performance.

The initiative has been successful by every measure considered. Business results are sharply up over the past several quarters. Turnover dropped from 17.03% in 2016 to 13.4% in 2017 and continues to decrease in 2018. In 2015, HMS retained 89.8% of their valued talent; in 2017, that number increased to 91.62%. Measures of cultural performance, focused on engagement, performance enablement and manager effectiveness are all dramatically up, well above the norm, and proof that this initiative is having a positive impact on the HMS culture.

2nd Place - Conifer Health

Conifer Health is a service company to hospitals, physician practices and other healthcare organizations. The front-line patient services team members greet patients, and collect vital demographic and insurance information, that helps ensure clients can effectively deliver care, and are paid for their services.

Owing in part to financial and regulatory pressures in healthcare over the last several years, team members in the patient services role have had increased administrative and technical responsibilities placed on them, limiting their ability to create a great patient experience – a key measure, competitive differentiator, and revenue driver for their healthcare clients.

A further complication for Conifer Health has been that operating procedures across different hospitals often vary, and over time, this variation has led to the need to maintain multiple variations of instructor-led and e-learning courses, making it difficult to deliver both effective and cost-efficient training.

To ensure the best client experience, Conifer knew it would need to transform and elevate training for 7,000+ patient services team members and leaders, including its onboarding, technical and leadership programs.  The new approach required the incorporation of a new service model to help elevate their game. The new service model was branded “Serve for Better” and became the basis for a change initiative to redesign of the entire training curriculum.

The curriculum which is currently being deployed through instructor-led, eLearning, leader-teach and self-paced modalities, has not only marked a return to both effective and cost-efficient training for patient services, but it has also inspired a transformation in how they market, sell and deliver our Patient Access services.


1st Place - Marketplace Chaplains

Historically, Marketplace Chaplains relied on chaplains across the United States, Canada, and Mexico to determine their preferred coaching approach, techniques and time frame, all without formal coach training. This method proved inefficient, with no consistent format, structured time parameters or measurable results.

As a result, the Academy (Training Department) designed a new coaching program, “Coaching for MPact", to create consistency throughout the 40+ divisions, providing formal training, a Coaching for MPact Toolkit, structured time parameters, measurable results, and blended learning modalities. The Chaplain Coaches are now vetted, have advanced level coaching experience, are formally trained and evaluated.

New hires are coached to ensure they adjust to the social and performance aspects of their jobs, and quickly and smoothly transition from training to providing care to their employees and their immediate family members. Chaplains are also coached due to the sizable impact they can have on the lives of the employees and families they care for.

At the end of each month, the Academy verifies top key metrics on chaplain care activities - Confidential Discussions and Chaplain Engagements. Based on the results received, within a 6-month period, the number of Confidential Discussions and Chaplain Engagements increased. As the number of Confidential Discussions and Chaplain Engagements increased, the number of employees engaged increased. These increases have had a direct impact on the employee and their family, building deeper relationships that lead to additional care opportunities.

Design and Delivery

1st Place - Children's Health System of Texas

With the dramatic increase in suicide rates among children in recent years, Children’s Health identified the need to refine their process for identifying and caring for patients who may be at risk for suicide or self-harm, resulting in the implementation of suicide and self-harm screenings in their inpatient units and emergency department.

The Children’s Health Learning Institute team designed a blended learning approach which included spaced learning, online micro-learning modules / videos and quick reference tools to ensure all physicians, clinical staff and ancillary staff were prepared to execute the new screenings. In addition, the Learning & Development team partnered with Organization Development consultants to implement a robust change process to support the required behavior change.

At the outset, the Learning and Development team identified key metrics to track behavior change and partnered with their Data Intelligence group to establish a dashboard to report how teams were performing. Results have not only indicated a 29-percentage point increase in the confidence level of employees to implement the new process, but also an overwhelming 96 percent compliance with the new screenings in Impatient units.

2nd Place - Toyota Motor North America

Facing the daunting task of onboarding over 1500 new employees and 2000 relocating team members across a range of positions and levels in less than 18 months, it was imperative that Toyota develop a fresh onboarding program that would quickly infuse the company culture and DNA into each and every team member.

The Learning and Development team conducted an extensive needs assessment and mapped out the desired outcomes of a holistic and impactful new hire program that addressed the first 90 days of a new hire’s journey. The resulting program blended many components critical to a new hire’s success including a new hire ambassador program to provide a warm welcome, informal lunches to facilitate unscripted culture conversations, and timely completion of onboarding paperwork. The team partnered with over 25 groups across the organization to develop and facilitate department-level content programs.

Toyota’s main priority was to create a “culture of inspiration.” Feedback was collected continuously to determine how well the program was generating excited employees who understood the cultural norms, priorities and values and were ready to contribute their best to the organization. As they’ve continued to refine their program, they have achieved ‘inspiration scores’ of 9 (out of 10), have reduced new hire administrative errors, the time required to provision new equipment for employees and have reduced turn-over by approximately 6 percent, leading to a 94 percent retention rate.

Diversity and Inclusion

1st Place - Texas Capital Bank

The latest diversity research, states, “We know that diverse teams and companies perform better. Are more creative. Are better at solving problems.”

Based on interviews and focus groups with senior leaders and surveys of managers across the organization, the qualitative and quantitative data proved that Texas Capital Bank teams struggled in three areas: working together, conflict management, and employee differences.

To address internal research, the Talent Development, Diversity and Inclusion Team developed the Better Together: BEST Profile initiative to create a more collaborative and inclusive environment. This course is for employees to build self-awareness about personality/communication style and their potential style biases, while raising awareness and appreciation for the personality/communication styles of others. The concept is that we, with all of our dimensions of diversity including personality preferences, are better together.

To build a culture of inclusion and a common language for addressing style differences, each employee in the company completes this initiative. The core program includes an online personality assessment and a three-hour instructor-led training course. The program is delivered to, to intact teams because the collaboration must start within the team.

The instructor-led session addresses the connection between our preferences and potential unconscious bias. Through activities and reflection, participants speak to their own style’s effective and ineffective behaviors. The overall purpose of the course is for teams to to create more inclusive environments where colleagues are open to provide different perspectives, and those differences are appreciated and valued.

2nd Place - Parkland Health & Hospital System

With 70 percent of staff members and 85 percent of patients self-identifying as minorities, the Diversity, Inclusion & Health Equity department at Parkland Health & Hospital System is committed to building individual and institutional capacity to achieve excellence, cultural competency, foster innovation, advance inclusiveness, and further health equity in our county and region by valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and healthcare disparities.

In 2018, Parkland Health & Hospital System conducted a cancer data analysis to determine whether a specific population bears a larger burden as it relates to cancer. Analysis showed that African American and Hispanic patients in two Dallas County ZIP Codes received their cancer diagnoses at more advanced stages i.e. stage III or IV, than whites. These findings coupled with the fact that these two ZIP Codes have a higher percentage of individuals living below poverty level, as well as a higher percentage of African Americans or Hispanics than Dallas County, emphasized the urgency to deploy a Global Health Equity strategy in these two ZIP Codes.

In collaboration with learning and development and employee surveys the Diversity, Inclusion & Health Equity Learning and Development series was developed and implemented. Held once a month, these instructor-led, 90-minute interactive programs offer coaching on culturally sensitive practices and education on the national healthcare standards for serving diverse patient groups.

Evaluating Learning Impact

1st Place - HCSC

HCSC has been actively collecting and analyzing data since 2014 to measure and improve the effectiveness of its “Speak Up” campaign promoting an ethical culture and encouraging contacts to the Ethics and Compliance Department.

Given the challenge of measuring behavior change and business impact in the compliance industry, HCSC needed to blend traditional evaluation methods with organizational and behavioral science. They began by evaluating the changes in knowledge, skills and attitudes which enabled behavior change and then correlated that to measures of ‘likelihood to perform’ and ‘ethical culture’ to determine the effectiveness of training and communication for the Speak Up campaign. Through this evaluation, the team discovered that even if an employee knew how to make a report and had the attitude or interest to do so, there were other influential factors at play as to whether they would do so.

From there, the team began exploring the four root causes of performance: motivation, environment, incentive and knowledge, skills and attitudes and used employee performance ratings and engagement survey results to represent the root causes of contacts to the Ethics and Compliance Department. This thorough analysis helped the team narrow their focus on the factors that make the biggest impact on speaking up so they could enhance their training and communication and increase the success of their program.

Knowledge Management

1st Place - Texas Capital Bank

Texas Capital Bank started to update its documentation processes to fix a centralized process that wasn’t working. Due to the growth of Texas Capital Bank, the pace of regulatory changes, and use of outdated technology, the Documentation team could not make changes and additions at the required pace. Doubling staff and replacing software still would not have enabled Texas Capital Bank to keep pace. These processes placed the business at serious risk.

The original project began as a way to solve a software challenge, but by asking fundamental questions, mapping out the documentation workflow, and working closely with stakeholders, the team quickly realized the project was much larger than anticipated.

The team quickly reacted to this new information and determined the solution was to flip the process. Instead of centralized authoring, the team enabled the business to perform its own authoring. Instead of a centrally managed library, the new solution created a centrally located library with distributed authoring. The use of security groups provided access for named and trained authors to publish documents at will insuring that only authorized personnel could publish to a particular library.

Texas Capital Bank completed all of the documentation updates in 5 months, 86% under expected budget, and they incurred no IT Support requests at launch. The Training and Development Team is doing for more strategic work for more business units than ever before. They have begun building credibility across the organization as the team that truly solves the problem.

2nd Place - Sendero

Sendero’s staffing model, where employees work alongside clients at their organization’s offices, creates challenges with keeping employees engaged in company-wide knowledge-sharing. For many years, Sendero has offered Brown Bag sessions, where employees share their project and industry experiences over lunch. However, employee feedback showed that the program lacked structure and topic variety and suffered from inconsistent scheduling and attendance.

After receiving this feedback, the Learning & Development and Organizational Development teams updated the Brown Bag structure to allow topics to be employee-driven and fall in one of the following categories: Leadership Development, Thought-Provoking, Project Insights, and Peoples’ Passion. These Brown Bags also were scheduled ahead of time and held on Fridays during lunch.

Brown Bag materials are housed within Sendero’s learning tool, Degreed, where employees can reference materials again or take the course virtually if they were unable to attend. Employees can recommend Brown Bag content to peers and comment on colleagues’ materials.

Since the change, nearly 30 percent of employees consistently attend Brown Bags each week. As a result, employee engagement and self-directed learning have increased. Brown Bags offer the opportunity for employees to connect, while learning something new. This supports Sendero’s “Best People, Best Delivery” business strategy by enhancing employees’ skills, abilities, and fostering connections with others in the organization.

Leadership Development

1st Place - Parkland Health & Hospital System

In 2016 Parkland identified that there was no structured program for leadership development, especially among high performers who had recently been promoted into leadership roles. Moreover, the lack of formal development was in some cases contributing to HR and performance issues. The Learning & Development team designed a leadership development program to support the organization’s strategic plan and address gaps in the employee engagement survey, all in alignment with the organization’s behavioral competencies. In fact, they implemented 3 levels of leadership development for current leaders and an Emerging Leader program for frontline employees.

Knowing the organization could not sustain a traditional leadership program format that required multiple days away from the job, the Learning & Development team designed an approach that included blended learning, peer-to-peer learning and coaching. A self-paced version of the program was also created for individual contributors who expressed an interest in joining the leadership ranks.

Success of the program has been measured in several ways, including Level 1 evaluations which have indicated overwhelming satisfaction with the quality of the program, a downward trend in employee relations issues, and an increase in promotions for participants who’ve completed the program.

2nd Place - RealPage Inc.

The Learning & Development team at Real Page identified an opportunity to build their talent pipeline by investing in the development of 640 global frontline leaders who play a critical role in employee retention and engagement.

Although RealPage had an existing leadership program, they needed to meet the demands of a rapidly growing technology business. The team conducted a needs assessment to determine how that program could be standardized to support their global business and ensure alignment with current business strategy, North Star initiatives and essential leadership needs. The resulting “Lead to Exceed” program is a robust, year-long, cohort-styled leadership development program that includes instructor-led training, online learning, webinars, lunch events, group coaching, and a team capstone project. The program is running in the US, India and the Philippines and will launch in Spain next year.

While the program is relatively new, the organization is already starting to see the positive impact of its investment. Several recent participants have been promoted into new roles, and informal feedback is indicating the tools learned in the program are being used effectively, participants are getting the support needed from their manager to apply the learning on the job, and participants find value in the ongoing networking and peer connections made in the program.

Learning Technology

1st Place - Children's Health System of Texas

Warm and friendly service interactions help to ease anxieties for parents of sick children. Customer Service College is a 12-module eLearning program that teaches good customer service skills. The program is designed for team members who are customer-facing with primary responsibilities for telephone interactions in the organization. It is intended to standardize the organization’s way of communicating with their customers and with each other.

Each module is 12 minutes or less and is designed interdependently. Some team members are required to take all twelve modules, while others have flexibility to choose the modules they believe will benefit them. While telephone interaction is the primary focus of the program, select modules also address communication with customers in face-to-face and email interactions.

The core program content comes from The Telephone Doctor video series, purchased by the organization. The instructional designer brought the organization’s culture, values, and job-specific examples to the vendor supplied content to make it a truly customized training solution that meets the organization’s needs. To make the content more relevant to their industry and more current, they chopped up the videos and used them in an interactive way. The micro-learning approach plus the unique meshing of a vendor solution with homemade content represents a unique use of multiple technologies to accomplish a specific training goal. The solution provides training to diverse patient-facing staff in all of the Children’s Health facilities in a manner that reflects quality customer service standards, as well as operational and cultural norms.

2nd Place - Sendero

Sendero is a management consulting firm providing expertise in a variety of industries and projects. Because employees assume unique job roles as they are staffed on different consulting projects, the organization’s talent initiatives must meet employees’ evolving needs. In 2017, the Learning & Development team defined a new learning strategy and approach to replace the existing learning management system.

In the beginning of 2018, the company’s Learning & Development team rolled out a new learning tool called Degreed which is a learning platform that allows users to curate content from various sources in order to personalize learning that meets each employee’s individual needs. The system captures both informal and formal learning and allows employees to learn on the job during their day-to-day client work.

Within Degreed, the learning team collaborated with senior leadership to develop and curate learning pathways targeted to all job levels within the firm. These pathways added structure to the company’s learning initiatives and solidified the expectations of their employees. Degreed hosts onboarding content, curated content specified for all job levels and departments, project and industry-specific materials, and company-wide initiative resources. The new learning technology has been successful in driving a continuous learning culture and has been beneficial to Sendero’s “Best People, Best Delivery” business strategy by ensuring employees continue to grow personally and professionally.

Performance Improvement

1st Place - BSN Sports

Founded in 1972 as a factory-direct equipment company, BSN Sports is the largest distributor of team sports apparel and equipment in the United States. They are the ultimate teamwear outfitter of Nike, Under Armour and other national brands. BSN Sales Professionals remove the hassles related to purchasing uniforms, equipment and spirit wear and anything else athletic programs need, giving coaches more time to impact lives on and off the field.

BSN learned they could only save time for coaches to impact the lives of young people if they give time back to their sellers. In the past, BSN equipped their sales pros with traditional training deployed through a Learning Management System (LMS). However, they realized that field sales pros who were constantly on the road had significant time and travel constraints that limited their ability to sit in front of a computer, log in and consume lengthy eLearning courses. Additionally, sales training ran the risk of becoming irrelevant given the quick-moving, everchanging, nature of the business. Training field sales pros had to become nimble and agile, dynamic, easily and quickly consumed, and accessible in any environment.

Therefore, the company adopted a next generation LMS that has the following key features:

  • Is optimized for mobile and integrated with the desktop
  • Focuses on just-in-time microlearning
  • Allows for push and pull consumption
  • Prioritizes learning content based on an algorithm that predicts the learning community’s needs while balancing the company’s sales priorities
  • Comes with an advanced, fast search capability
  • Has an intuitive and easy-to-use content creation system – allowing for the creation and updating of microlearning content in minutes (instead of hours)

2nd Place - Toyota Motor North America

After almost 2 years of manually adding new hire information to a spreadsheet, our Onboarding Team leveraged technology to automate roster management for attendees scheduled to appear at our New Hire Orientation sessions.

We used the SalesForce platform to build an application called a Session Manager. This application automatically populates a roster of scheduled new hires, based on their start date. It also contains details of each orientation session: from the agenda, to catering details, to subject matter expert (SME) and guest speaker information, and more.

The application also allows us to track audience metrics, such as number of new hires in the past quarter, new hires starting in the Accounting department, and summary counts of new hires by month (to capture trends). It has opened the door on many new ways to report and display performance data. The number of "one-off" Telephone calls and emails have dropped. In our parallel phase, where managing the roster using the manual spreadsheet method took 17 hours of work for a month; the Session Manager app has reduced that work down to 5 HOURS.

Strategic Planning

1st Place - Parkland Health & Hospital System

In 2017 Parkland Health and Hospital System had a new strategic plan but was unclear on how to effectively implement it. The Learning & Development team partnered with the organization’s chief executives to design an implementation strategy to ensure the new plan was aligned across each priority's purpose, stakeholders, success criteria and deliverables.

To prepare leaders to successfully implement their plans, the Learning & Development team introduced the use of an Aims grid and facilitated sessions to help teams document purpose, define and prioritize projects, and identify stakeholders, success criteria and solutions. They also worked with leaders to develop communication plans that would help embed the plan into development, learning, engagement, culture and onboarding initiatives.

The initiative was such a success at the senior level, that other departments began introducing a similar process to ensure successful execution of their strategic plans and the organization has received recognition from external regulating bodies for the success of their work. As a result, the Learning Team has positioned itself as true strategic partner for the organization.

2nd Place - Marriott International

With the war for talent ramping up, Marriot International needed to rethink its recruiting and onboarding strategy to attract the next generation of talent necessary to build customer loyalty. Recruiting and hiring associates had previously been the role the General Manager in each market; however, the company quickly determined that was not the most efficient way to hire and train new employees.

The Dallas Market Human Resources Manager began by identifying and piloting strategies that would appeal to a younger generation of workers, including the opportunity for flexible part-time roles and the implementation of text communication with potential candidates. In addition, the HR Manager began connecting with more local community-based organizations to recruit local workers, provided additional training support on the organization’s recruiting platform and launched a new hire onboarding process.

After 3 months of implementing the new strategy, Marriot International doubled the number of candidates hired over the same time period last year. The company is now able to fill positions faster and free up local General Managers to focus on running their individual properties instead of filling positions. The program has been so successful, that it is now being rolled out in 5 additional markets.

Talent Assessment / Succession Planning

1st Place - Parkland Health & Hospital System

Prior to 2017, Parkland had never executed a succession planning process. As a response to regulatory requirements, and the implementation of a strategic plan that focuses on growing talents and careers, the Human Resources team implemented a comprehensive succession planning and talent review process for over 1000 leaders from supervisors to the C-suite.

To ensure the launch of a process that would work well in the Parkland culture, the Learning & Development team conducted thorough research of best practices, developed a communication campaign to educate leaders and gain their buy-in, designed the process, timelines and templates, conducted two pilots to test and refine the process, gathered feedback and provided training for participants.

The Learning & Development team has gathered anecdotal evidence indicating the succession planning process is meeting its objectives. Several vacated positions have been successfully filled internally by associates identified through the process. In other cases, talent slates have led to new stretch assignments, leadership development and promotions.

2nd Place - GameStop

Over the past year, GameStop recognized the need to create structured leadership competencies and a sophisticated, actionable assessment methodology to identify and develop leaders suitable for promotional opportunities within the organization.

A big part of this initiative was the development of a promotion-focused talent assessment process for senior levels of leadership, based on a desire to be transparent, rigorous, and competency-focused for all promotional decisions. The assessment was designed in response to needs identified collaboratively by leaders at all levels of the organization. The outcome was a multi-day, executive-sponsored, assessment that selects and evaluates participants quantitatively and qualitatively, culminating with a calibrated, senior executive assessment discussion and a customized development plan for each participant. The program includes a 360 assessment, a couple of individual activities to assess business and financial acumen, several team activities requiring collaboration to solve a complex business problem and finally, a structured interview conducted by the most senior leaders of the organization.

GameStop’s investment in a robust talent assessment process has allowed the organization to promote more internal leaders into senior level roles, which has resulted in reduced enterprise-level operating costs, role redundancies, and talent sourcing costs and higher retention rates for leaders sourced through the process.

Talent Mobility

1st Place - Parkland Health & Hospital System

Statistics indicate that less than 5% of the current Dallas Independent School District (DISD) ninth grade students will earn a college degree by their mid-20s. In 2015, Parkland initiated The Rise to Success program to create a pipeline of future health care professionals among high school graduates from low income areas through a structured development path leading to a health care career.

Participants complete 10 weeks of clinical training to earn a Patient Care Assistant (PCA) certificate before transitioning into a part time-position. Participants then enroll in a two-year health care focused program at DCCCD. The Parkland team mentors and develops these future employees through on-site instructive and experiential education including an individualized development plan which includes projects, rotations, intensive reading, discussion and collaboration with experienced leaders.

The program has demonstrated some significant results including: an increase in retention of PCAs by almost 200%, which has dramatically reduced the number of job vacancies and allowed the team to focus on sustainably growing to meet the region’s future healthcare needs. Moreover, the practices originally designed for PCAs have extended to other high-demand roles with widening talent gaps. Finally, the success of the program has allowed for a direct partnership with DISD to shift the curriculum into high schools, so some students graduate with basic credentials for the PCA role and has laid the foundation for job-readiness programs in other industries.

Volunteer Awards

Volunteer Awards Name 
Dee Dick Lifetime Achievement Award Susan Brookshire
Programs Joanne Hix
Professional Development Julie Mitchell
Marketing & Communications Fanchon Henneberger
Membership Sally Luttrell
Southwest Learning Summit Stephanie Allison
AXIS Awards Cynthia Toro


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Phone: 972-233-9107 ex. 224

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