Don't put training on the backburner

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This article appeared in the March 2015 issue of CRN magazine.

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Don't put training on the backburner

I recently went through airport security for the umpteenth time.

It almost becomes second nature now. Remove the notebook from my computer case. Drop it in a tray. Remove my wallet and phone from my pockets. Put them on a tray. Smile nicely. Walk through.

Maybe I have a look about me as I then seem to be stopped for the explosives check more often than not.

This time was different though. Rather than a nod and a quick swipe with a wand the security officer asked me in a polite manner to move over next to him. He then told me that I had been randomly selected for an explosives check and went through a thorough and comprehensive process to swipe a range of surfaces over my clothing and inside my computer case.

I also noticed another security officer standing nearby with a clipboard. Feeling very game, I dared to have a conversation and joke with the officer screening me for explosives.

“Last day of training?” I asked. His look back at me suggested it was not meant to be obvious. I told him I had never been screened for explosives as thoroughly as this. and said it seemed obvious that he was being judged on his performance and jokingly suggested that when I come through in a week he will be the same as all of the other officers – a quick swipe with a cloth and on you go. He assured me he would be different.

I doubt it.

Staff training and then utilisation of that training by your staff is one of the great bugbears of all business owners. In the incredibly fast-moving world of IT, effective training is even more essential. Many business owners tell me that one of their biggest fears is spending money on staff training as they will take good, young, inexperienced staff members, train them, and then they leave for better positions elsewhere.

I actually have the opposite fear. I worry that if we don’t train our good, young, inexperienced staff members, they might stay and then I have a team of unskilled and unknowledgeable staff!

I can’t stress enough the importance of staff training – and some in the channel are realising its value.

Daniel Campbell, channel manager of Fujitsu, recently noted the importance of training in attracting new partners. All of their training programs are free as they recognise there is a cost to the partner of taking one of their engineers out of the field to attend training sessions.

It is this sort of attitude to sharing the training burden that will see some vendors attract more partners – and others fall behind.

Not only have I been a huge fan of training throughout my business career – but of also validating that training with certifications. If a staff member returns from a training course with a certificate of attendance, have they absorbed all the knowledge that was on offer or did they spend the day finding funny photos on Facebook? A certification is a different matter.

I noticed recently that Amazon have added a new certification to their AWS platform. Many other vendors have established certification programs as well – Microsoft; Cisco and CompTIA and others have had internationally recognised certifications that allow a progressive reseller to show to their clients that they really have the expertise to back up their marketing.

Refreshingly, Tristan Warner, CTO for eNerds, prefers vendors to offer training rather than junkets. Some may say this is going a little too far but if you take the big picture view, if you receive the right training from your partners, and you increase your business, you will make enough money to take yourself on better junkets than the vendors supply!

If you still aren’t convinced on the value of extensive training, take a quick look at the new head of Telstra. Andrew Penn dropped out of high school at the age of 15 – and after a lifetime of training is now about to head up Australia’s largest IT organisation. Maybe this training idea isn’t such a bad thing.

Tell me if you prefer training or junkets at md@smallbusinessrules.com

Matthew Dickerson is a technology professional who has started a total of six small businesses.

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