December is a great time in the year for many reasons, but as a manager, this is the time when you work with your team to come up with their personal development plans, and in particular, training plans for the upcoming year.

The question is, how do you, as a manager, proactively work with your team members to execute on the plan? I’ve worked with managers over the years. Many of them had taken the time to create plans with their teams, then then left them with each team member, placing the responsibility entirely on the team member to make the plan happen. However, what they didn’t realize is that even the most disciplined of team members will find it difficult to execute on their training plans if their schedules don’t allow them to make the necessary time available. Who manages the schedule? You do.

You can help ensure that your team members are able to take the training they need simply by ensuring that their schedule allows the time for it. I’ve seen various different methods of doing so:

  • Allowing team members to take a few hours to half a day every week for virtual training, hands-on labs, reading, etc.
  • Allowing team members to take a full day of virtual or classroom training once a month or every other month
  • Bringing courses on-premise and weaving work between modules so that both get done at the same time

At the end of the day, you will know what will work best in your environment; however, the key here allowing the time for training – making sure that work loads are adjusted to incorporate training rather than expecting that training be done in addition to the work. How do you justify doing so? Simple. An investment in your team’s personal development programs can improve their productivity, creativity, and innovation – all of which come back as an reinvestment in the organization. If you start thinking about training this way, you’ll soon realize that the more you invest in your people, the more they will reinvest back in you and the organization. At least that is my personal belief and rarely have I see this not be the case.

In a nutshell, help your team help themselves, which will ultimately, help you and your organization.

Virtual Training

The push these days seems to be virtual training, as it is much easier to integrate into work schedules. Here are some great starting points that you can highlight to your team:

  • Microsoft Virtual Academy – Courses on a variety of technologies organized into 20 minute modules that are easy to consume.
  • TechDays Online – Starting in mid to late December, sessions from TechDays 2011 will be available to view/download with new released-to-TechDays-Online only sessions coming every week starting in January. In addition to the sessions, over 50 hands on labs will be available to get your team actually working with the technologies.

These are just two, however, there are online seminars, webcasts, camps, etc. for Developers/IT Pros that would be of benefit to you and your teams that are not featured in the above. We highlight most of these in the AlignIT newsletter that you may already be receiving, but to ensure that your developers and IT pros are connected to the most up to date information on what’s coming up and when, have them check the Canadian Developer Connection and Canadian IT Pro Connection respectively.

On the Next AlignIT Manager Tech Talk

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On the next AlignIT Manager Tech Talk, Ruth and I will be talking all about the importance of training as part of personal development. Join us for the discussion. We’d also love to hear what you’re doing in your organization to proactively help your team with training. If you have any tips and/or tricks for other managers, we’d love to hear those as well.

December 8, 2011 – 12:00 PM - 12:30 PM ET.
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If you need any help

As you work through training plans for your team, if you would like to discuss training options feel free to connect with myself (LinkedIn, email) or Ruth (LinkedIn, email) any time.