Posted by: TechTalker
You’ve heard the old saying, failure is not an option … it’s a feature of the system; well sadly this is true in many organizations where training and education are not taken seriously as evidenced by ever shrinking training budgets and less time being made available for technology professionals to advance their knowledge. This organizational failure is shortsighted and counterproductive, but quite easy to fix.
Confronted with the challenge of how to train and educate technology professionals on shoe-string budget, here are five ideas that have proven successful that I would like to share with you –
1) Knowledge Exchanges
Everyone is good at something, including you. Share your expertise with others by hosting a knowledge exchange session. Pick a topic, invite others to hear you speak, and share your knowledge. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many people show up, and before you know it others will want to share their knowledge too. I’ve even had people come up to me and offer to host their own knowledge exchange after attending one of mine.
2) Lunch ‘N Learn
Video tutorials abound on the Internet. Schedule monthly Lunch ‘N Learn gatherings where attendees bring their own lunch and you set up a laptop and projector, then watch video tutorials together and share the experience of learning. Many people get more out of watching video tutorials as a group because the opportunity to discuss and clarify helps them learn.
3) Mentor/Mentee Program
Perform a skill set assessment of your team by polling your team for a list of required skills that individuals and the team need to be successful, determine the number of years experience per individual for each skill, identify who has had formal training/certification in a specific skill, and determine the level of interest each person has in advancing their knowledge in a specific area.
Use the skill set assessment to establish a formal mentor/mentee program where each person on your team, with advanced skills in a particular area, is a mentor for another team member who has less experience or has interest in learning a new area. This program should allow one hour per week for the mentee to schedule time with their mentor, then step back and watch the learning in action.
4) Cross Training/Backup Coverage
Similar to the Mentor/Mentee Program, cross training team members to be backup coverage for others is paramount to operational success as it builds team depth, but there are other benefits too. The person who is doing the cross training reinforces their knowledge while teaching others. The person preparing to be backup coverage learns new skills. And the organization as a whole becomes better balanced and able to withstand planned/unplanned staff time off.
5) Study Groups
Start by identifying a subject area that you and your team want to learn more about, all agree to purchase the same book and read one chapter per week, then meet once per week for approximately an hour to discuss the chapter that everyone read. The study group approach to learning promotes reading a chapter each week and the weekly gathering reinforces the learning as each person gets a chance to share their perspective on the material.
Technical professionals must be provided the opportunity to continually improve their knowledge and supporting this cause starts with you. Don’t let reduced, or no, training budgets stop you and your team from learning. Try some of the ideas shared here and share some of yours.
Join the conversation.