Your trainers are grousing about long hours, short preparation times, and winging it on material they really don’t understand.
The obvious answer: Hire another trainer.
Your problem: There’s no new head in your budget until next year.
No matter where you work, headcount is a serious management issue. Payroll is always at the top of any company’s expenses, and that’s particularly true in the training industry. So going to your boss or business manager in August and saying that you need yet another staff member is no laughing matter.
Make yourself perfectly clear
How do you make the case for a new staff slot to be added to the budget? In dollar signs, of course. Here are five tried-and-true litmus tests for justifying an additional hire. If you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, you should have no problem convincing your boss that a new hire is good for the business—not just good for your own schedule.
- Is the company losing money by not having this hire? If the answer is “yes,” then most of your work is done. Companies like money—nothing speaks louder than the sound of lost bookings due to staffing shortfalls. If you sense that you’re headed for a staffing pinch, keep copious notes on every job you’ve had to turn down because you just didn’t have anyone to teach it. Remember, along with a little marketing push, having a new hire means you can greatly increase the volume of business your company takes on.
If you work in a corporate training department, call the user support or help desk manager to see if insufficient training is forcing their teams to handle an inordinate number of calls on a particular piece of software or toolkit. Again, translate those wasted hours into dollars; help desk staff typically make at least $30 an hour, and that adds up to a single trainer in a big hurry.
- Is the company missing out on potential revenues by not having this hire? This one isn’t quite as clear-cut as #1, but if you can effectively identify and prove a revenue opportunity, you not only get your new hire, you look pretty smart in the process. What hot new software releases are driving training demand that your company didn’t foresee eight months ago? Do you need to add a staff member to prepare for a Windows 2000 crunch in Q1 of next year? Will Adobe’s next “Quark-killer” have graphic artists clamoring for two-day sessions? Check out your competitors’ Web sites to see what they are up to—finance planners are paranoid about falling behind the competition, so the need to have a presence in the same space as your chief rivals is a strong argument.
In the corporate training space, check with line-of-business managers to see if there’s some project they wish they could tackle, if only they had enough staff hours to devote. The math is simple: Two hours a week gained by improved performance X 20 users=Your new trainer
- Will the new hire help you make better use of existing resources? Do you have a certified VBA specialist teaching entry-level Word classes just because you can’t find anybody else to do it? That kind of waste drives budget-jockeys nuts—particularly considering that you probably had to shell out several thousand dollars to acquire that specialized skill set. Promoting the common-sense mantra of “the right tool for the right job” will prove that you’re thinking about your company’s interests. As an added sales pitch, go into that meeting with your boss with some concrete ideas of what you should be doing with that VBA specialist.
- Is the quality of the company’s product suffering without this additional hire? OK, everybody at one time or another privately questions upper management’s dedication to product quality. But you can bet that once customers start complaining, they’ll listen. Come armed with student evaluations that complain of a lack of expertise or comfort on the part of the trainer. In the corporate setting, compile student skill assessment figures that illustrate that employees aren’t getting the full benefit of the training that just cost the company 400 staff hours. And most importantly, be ready to passionately advocate the need for quality in your department—upper management respects and appreciates employees who take their jobs seriously, provided they take the time to present a few irrefutable facts.
- Is staff morale suffering without this hire? Granted, this is a pretty touchy-feely criterion, but when combined with other quantifiable arguments, it’s surprisingly effective. In today’s economy, almost all companies are gravely concerned with staff turnover, and that phenomenon is perhaps most acute in the technology industry. Bottom line, a hacked-off C trainer can go get another job, and your company loses its investment in recruiting and training that employee, in addition to the costs associated with finding another trainer. That adds up to big bucks. Don’t feel timid about reminding your boss of this.
And the answer is…
So what happens if you answered “yes” to only one or two of these questions? Maybe you need to re-evaluate your own belief in the need to hire a new trainer. Every good businessperson knows that the numbers don’t lie. By reserving your push for more resources until you can prove that you need them, you’ll build credibility with your boss—and you’ll probably get what you want.
Ken Hardin is a freelance writer and business analyst with more than two decades in technology media and product development. Before founding his own consultancy, Clarity Answers LLC, Ken was a member of the start-up team and an executive with TechRepublic.com and ITBusinessEdge.com.