It is always an uphill battle to keep yourself and your staff up-to-date with recent technologies and new features in products/services you deliver. On one side you need to make sure you are out making money and on the other hand you need to make sure your staff can deliver on latest changes.
It’s worthwhile noting that many of your clients are most likely fully tuned into the newest technologies and would be expecting to get these implemented or updated next time you visit or engage them. It looks somewhat inefficient and creates poor reputation, if your staff is not fully up-to-speed on the latest HP Server hardware features or Microsoft applications.
Training is good, but it does come at a price. Also, the level of training you provide to your staff needs to be considered.
The following topics attempts to cover some of the considerations you should make before approving training requirements or at least consider these as part of your training strategy.
Online v Classroom
The debate regarding online v classroom is still something that needs to be engaged within the organisation. Why? Well, often online training is significantly cheaper and can be done at the participants pace. However, it does still require a level of self-discipline to complete these courses and you (the sponsor) still need to monitor progress of courses.
So, some of the benefits to be considered are the fact that you save money and your staff could potentially do the training when they are less busy, allowing you full access to the resource for projects / engagements.
Classroom allows the participant to network with other classroom participants, and allows for a healthy technical discussion during the various exercises. It might even allow your staff to promote the organisation and increase some revenue, which is a free PR exercise. On the downside, you need to accept higher cost and also that your staff can represent you positively and negatively – make sure your staff understands this responsibility.
Do you really need a certificate?
Some certificates are a simple printout and has no relevance to the actual course. The company providing the course merely gives the participant a certificate that they attended.
On the other hand, certification can be very valuable when engaging a client on specific projects. It gives the client a level of comfort that the consultant has the appropriate knowledge about the product, ensuring that the solution is deployed using best practice.
Certificates required an exam to be completed and passed, which tests the participants in their knowledge and comprehension. So it will give a good indication of whether the employee engaged in the course, understood the content and actually participated in the course.
One important aspect to consider, no matter how painful it might be, is that employees often use training courses and certificates to improve their CV. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your staff is leaving, but it does mean that he/she might become more attractive in the market and may leave.
Whether you allow online or classroom training, I would still suggest that you have some sort of training contract for your employee. Why?
Well, it gives you some bargaining power if you employee decide to leave. If you have an agreement in place that states that employees have to repay e.g. 75% of training cost if they leave within 12 months, then employees might reconsider jumping ship. Depending on the cost and duration of training course, you might consider extending the agreement to cover year 2 and year 3, each reducing the percentage the employee has to pay back.
Role Specific Training
One question I always ask is whether the training is relevant to the person’s role. If it’s relevant and will enhance the team’s effectiveness, then I’ll approve it. If this is just a training course to satisfy a personal desire to get better with e.g. programming, and has nothing to do with the person’s role, then I would reject it.
In reality, all organisations have to consider the cost for every training is part of the budget. Sending staff on training whenever they want is no longer an option and should be used an incentive to perform and provide the organisation with an improved skill-set to engage new and more clients.
It’s very important to keep staff up-to-date and motivated, but it all has to be done with the budget in mind.