Education

Make your next job "manager of internal IT training"

Is your career in an IT-style rut? In this View from Ground Zero, find out why the time is ripe for selling internal IT training.

Honk if you’re in an IT rut. You’re a network guru who’s tired of doing nothing but babysitting hardware, building laptops, and answering pages. You’re a developer who’s burned out on long hours and constant deadlines. You don’t want to leave IT, but you’re ready for a change.

Can you teach? Then apply for the job of internal IT training manager. If your company doesn’t have such a position, then make the case for creating it. I’m predicting that IT departments everywhere soon will be making the “internal IT trainer” a permanent part of their department rosters. If you like the “teaching thing,” here’s how to position yourself to get in on the ground floor of this trend.

Make your pitch with hard numbers from Gartner
Common sense tells us that end users who are trained are much more efficient than users who aren’t. And companies with well-trained, competent computer users are bound to be more productive and successful than companies that don’t provide end-user training, right?

But IT departments traditionally don’t provide training. They’re too darn busy maintaining networks and troubleshooting hardware and software problems. You hear IT managers say, “We provide the computers, and it’s up to the department managers to get their people trained.” The problem is, most line-of-business managers aren’t technical, and they feel lucky if they can hire someone who knows anything about using any application. Every day, countless hours are frittered away by end users who do things “the long way” because they don’t know any better.

And when some upstart IT manager does make the pitch for “getting someone in here to do some training,” senior management usually dismisses the idea because they don’t see the value of training; all they see is the cost of training that comes off the bottom line.

As IT manager Jim Hesson said in his recent TechRepublic Featured Member Profile, “We've got to show that an untrained user makes the company less money than a trained user."

Here’s your pitch: For each dollar you invest in training, I'll give you back five. Do you know any businesses that wouldn't take that deal?

According to a report originally published by Gartner on July 10, 2000, “Every hour of needed end-user and IT professional training is worth an average of at least five hours to the enterprise.” When the senior management in your company balks at committing to hiring a full-time internal trainer, show them the statistical evidence of the value of training by referring them to this Gartner Research Note, “Justifying IT training: Finding the numbers that link productivity and training.”

Sell yourself as “da man” or “da woman” for the job
After you convince senior management that training is needed and justified, you have to sell them on why you’re the best person to manage the internal training processes. Many large companies already have in-house training departments, I realize. But with all due respect to those trainers—people who claim that they “can teach anything”—if they don’t have technical backgrounds, they have no business providing internal IT training.

And don’t even get me started on off-site training companies. I’m not a big fan of sending employees off-premises for IT training. Even if you find a reputable, high-quality training vendor (easier said than done), you still must deal with the issue of having your employees out of the office for hours or days at a time.

In my opinion, the best IT training is provided in-house, and the manager of internal IT training should be an experienced IT person. If you want to stay in IT but you’re tired of the same old grind, you must sell yourself as someone who:
  • Has the desire and the ability to teach.
  • Gets along well with people.
  • Understands technology issues and IT’s role in the enterprise.
  • Is dedicated to providing the right kind of training.

In next week’s View from Ground Zero, I’ll tell you how to identify and deliver the training your company needs. In the meantime, I’d like to hear your opinions on whether and when a company should dedicate at least one full-time employee to the task of providing enterprise-wide IT training. Please post your comments below or follow this link to drop me a note.
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