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Stephen IbarakiIndustry AnalystFCIPS, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, DFNPA, CNP, FGITCA, MVP
When you receive your budget and it's less than last year, what is the first thing you do?
You cut 'something' out. You measure and weigh, spend hours agonizing over your decision, and if you are like most IT Managers, you finally decide that your staff really don't require training; after all they've been using computers every day for the last several years of their working life - right?
When workers do the same job day after day, on the same computer they develop habits. You may have received training on how to use the computer when you got Windows 95 several years ago, but how much of that training do you remember? How many of those features do your users actually use? How many features have changed from version to version and is your staff using their computer systems efficiently?
Let's face it, when we get into habits, we tend to lose skills that we could be making use of. Our worker productivity could be greatly improved when companies invest in ongoing employee skills upgrading and training.
As a trainer, I know that the first thing cut in any budget is funding for training. This is something that I would like to see turn around - and soon. With the new operating systems, office productivity packages and collaboration tools due out from Microsoft some time in the next year, I see a great opportunity for employers to increase the productivity of their workers by offering up to date customized training.
Many professional associations require continuing education to maintain your membership status. If an insurance professional is not keeping current with changes and trends, or regulations in the insurance industry, how can they offer the best they can to their clients? That same principle applies to your employees. If you aren't investing in them to make them the most productive and provide them with the most relevant tools, how can you expect your employees to be giving you their best?
It seems the younger generation was born with computers and gadgets attached to their hips while the aging workforce still requires education to keep up to date with the latest features of the office productivity or other software they are required to use on the job.
As an example, I recently completed training for a Canadian oil company. I have never been so well received as I was at this training session. It was the first time in over five years that productivity, Microsoft Office, internet and project management training had been offered to the staff. Every person attending was thankful to be there and to have the opportunity to learn something new and to do their job better.
One attendee told me, "Everything I learned I learned by doing myself, plundering my way through, or watching over someone else's shoulder. And really that was just no good."
Every day we increase demands on our employees to offer better service, to sell more, to retain more customers, to process more paper....and on and on...We push the newest gadgets like handheld devices, PDA's, and Smart Phones that do everything but clean the kitchen sink; meanwhile, we fail to provide more than just the basics on how to get the most out of the tools we provide.
As an IT Manager, 2006 may be the year to change that. If your company likes to stay on the leading edge of technology and embraces new hardware and software, or sees technology as necessary to its very existence, then investing a little time and money into training for your employees to make use of the new features is going to be more than worth the return on investment you make.
New hardware, new and improved Windows, new Microsoft Office Suite, new collaboration (MSN Messenger, LiveMail) and internet and computer searching tools are just the tip of the ever changing IT world.
Why not give your employees the opportunity to move forward with the "right" foot? Provide training to allow your staff to meet and even exceed the expectations you have place on them.