clip_image004The following post is contributed by Peter Egerton, System Center Consultant at Inframon and WMUG Community Leader.

Training – “The action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behaviour”

To put this into the context of IT, I think most organisations can disregard the animal training, although I have known a few businesses with office pets but we’ll assume they don’t use a Surface Pro. So back to the title, how indeed do you convince management that training is key?

Let’s look at it from your side.
As an IT Pro it’s pretty much expected that you should know your way around the systems you use day to day, but is that really true? I know from experience that this isn’t always the case and often in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king or to put it in IT pro terms, if you know a little about something – that makes you the resident expert. The trouble with this is getting that chance to actually become the expert, once you’re labelled as such why would management allow you training? It costs the business cold hard cash, right? So the onus is now on you to convince management why you need training and what the benefits are both for you and the business.

Now let’s look at it from the management side.
Having discussed this with a few IT managers, it seems to sometimes come down to budget, or in other words money. Often though, management need a little persuasion to get them to part with that money but then that’s the fundamental idea of a business right? Spend less than you take.

The challenge really is simple - to come up with some justification that ticks boxes for both you and your boss.

First things first, what if training was free? That shoots down any cost any argument straight away. Some people may think that if training is free then it can’t be any good – not so. Microsoft Virtual Academy is produced by technical experts in their respective fields. The IT community is also an awesome place to get skills. MVP’s and IT communities are forever publishing how-to’s and best practice guides, there’s a plethora of stuff out there. The only expense to the business is your time and I know time is money, but at least you get it at cost price.

Secondly, what if you could skill up and open up another revenue channel for your business or even reduce costs? That would surely get management attention wouldn’t it? Now we’re talking in terms that management can understand. What if you could enable staff to work efficiently from anywhere and reduce employee travel expenses? Maybe you could make your company website process transactions quicker or more efficiently, get a hold on those unmanaged devices, prevent data leakage, virtualise those old inefficient physical servers or even make the jump to the cloud. There’s a famous saying “if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur” this alone should be justification to a manager to get their staff trained up.

So why not become the expert? Whether you are already labelled as such or you would like to be, then training is undoubtedly the key. Whether that’s hand on with product evaluations in your own hyper-v lab, through the Technet Virtual Labs or classroom style learning with videos from the Microsoft Virtual Academy or the Microsoft Official Courseware the content is there and if you didn’t already know, a lot of it is free? That’s a tick for you and a tick for management right there.

clip_image002Maybe you’re starting out as an IT pro. It can be difficult to get your boss to invest in you as you are likely to have peers to learn from. However I’ve often found you can pick up the bad habits of others or worse still if they never convinced their boss to get them trained, you could be getting half the story. In this situation I’ve always found it helps to make the first move, show some enthusiasm and learn something yourself without prompting and then tell the boss what you did. Better still get certified, if you prove you can and want to learn then the boss is quite likely to put you first in the line for future training opportunities. If you are in this situation you could make yourself an MVA Heroand turn up on dress down day with your MVA Hero league t-shirt, that’s sure to get people talking.

Maybe you’re reading this an experienced IT Pro and your boss thinks you don’t need to be trained as you’ve been around the virtual block a few times and can pick things up easily. You are the one that can add real value to the proposition, you are the one that through your experience can save the company money and make the company money. Look for something than can be improved, you know it can be done better and there’s your angle. Tell them “train me in cloud and I’ll take you to Azure”,you’re the one that can bring change to an organisation and drive costs down.

Finally, let’s not forget that warm cosy feeling you get inside when someone does something nice for you. Maybe you could remind the boss that happy employees tend to show more interest in their work and if you’re interested in your work you generally do a better job of it and more often than not, stick around.

So in summary, in order to convince management that training is key:

  • Buy some time – good training doesn’t have to cost a penny.
  • Talk their language - make a business proposition out of it and show what’s in it for them.
  • Follow it through - If you do get training then make it worthwhile by delivering the results and you’re more likely to get future investment.
  • Make the first move – show your enthusiasm and potential to learn and you could get something back.
  • Give virtual hugs – Appreciate the investment in your skills and make the most of it.

If all of the above fails for you then you can always keep an eye out for the next Microsoft Career evening hosted by the UK TechNet team, we’d be happy to see you there!

Author BIO:
I’m a Microsoft System Center Consultant for Inframon Ltd. I travel the UK designing, implementing, supporting and training on the Microsoft System Center product range. I’ve been an IT Pro for 14 years and in my spare time am a Community Leader for the Windows Management User Group (WMUG).

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