Great, you identified a training solution that best meets your team’s needs. Everything is set up and ready to go for your users. But your work isn’t done, yet.
Fostering an environment that encourages training and recognizes success is key to getting the most out of your investment. Here are five steps that can help to create a strong training culture, sooner rather than later.
1. Transform management’s attitude
One of the first items up on the IT budget chopping block is usually training. So, you’re already in a great place to have received approval for a training system. The relationship between management and training is usually along the lines of, “If we train staff, they’ll update their resumes and leave.”
That said, if you’re an IT manager, you can’t afford not to keep your team sharp because the IT industry is constantly changing and growing.
An employee who feels invested in, cared about, and is given the opportunities to learn is more likely to stay. Approving those big training purchases are one thing, and working to shift the mindset of managers from “training will give them a reason to leave” to “training will encourage them to stay” is just as important. Per Kevin Griffin, CIO at GE Capital, “Learning cannot be an afterthought — it must be a core focus of any strong organization.”
2. Eliminate Mental Barriers
Starting a training program is one thing, making it easy to access is another. Let’s face it — if something is even slightly inconvenient, we’re less likely to get it done. You’ve probably already experienced this in your day-to-day IT work. Implementing a new application or security measure? Better go the extra mile to make it as easy a transition as possible, or expect a line of complaining users at your door.
Approach training the same way. Set up super easy access to whatever your learning resource is, be it files on the team’s shared folder, a wiki, or a team subscription for CBT Nuggets that everyone has access to.
Does your team prefer attending conferences, in-person classes, or boot camps? Make sure they feel like reasonable requests will always be approved. Remember, training provides an individual a means to improve their skills, accomplish more at work, and be happier in the workplace. If there is too much red tape, they might feel like giving up before starting and that it’s not a battle worth fighting.
3. Reward Training Excellence
Did a team member earn a certification or the entire team complete assigned training? Make sure their hard work is recognized! Don’t forget that everyone handles praise differently so it’s important to recognize your team members accordingly. This could be anything from a monetary bonus, team happy hour, or a handwritten card recognizing specific accomplishments. You know your team best, so do what fits.
4. Provide Training Time at Work
Anyone in IT knows there is never enough time to finish everything. The result? Lower priority tasks always get bumped down (or off) the priority list. And training will likely be one of the first to drop off your users’ schedules. So make sure, as a manager, that you give them the means to carve out time on their schedules during the workday to train and then protect that time for them.
At the same time, be careful with implementing mandatory scheduled sessions, as those may take on the drudgery of regular meetings. You know your team, you know the demands on their time, allow them to carve out what they need and be flexible — or training won’t happen, at least regularly.
5. The Accountability Factor
This is the trickiest consideration. No one wants to be nagged, “Did you get through all your training last month? No? Better get it done this month.” You are setting benchmarks for advancement, not a strict to-do list.
- An engineer must finish their VCA certification exam studies before she moves up to the virtualization team.
- The green helpdesk guy should earn his A+ and Net+ certifications within so many months of hire. And, further, secure the MSCA before taking on a server admin role.
Trust us, no IT professional worth their salt will ignore what’s required in order to move up to a cooler role.
Certifications and their associated training provide objective milestones. These examples show a way of using them as a required base level of knowledge before being put into a new role, though there are other ways to assess competency.
Training is one thing; getting everyone to embrace it and use it is another matter. By establishing expectations, making training convenient, and rewarding good habits, you can create a training culture that pays off big for your employees and the organization at large.
You can contact me directly if you have any questions about how to build a training program, and how CBT Nuggets could be the right training solution for you at firstname.lastname@example.org.