Training is essential to the quality of service support techs can provide. A constant effort must be made to maintain and upgrade technical proficiencies and customer service skills. This endeavor requires a significant commitment from both IT management and frontline support staff. Successful training takes time and money. It has been my experience, however, that effective training depends more on time than on money. An adequate amount of time must be allotted or students will not be able to give the training their full attention and will have wasted the opportunity to learn. The following are five tips that can help you make time for training.
- Job share
- Hire part-time help
- Use on-the-job training
- Offer training lunches
- Reschedule/postpone unnecessary meetings
Everyone I know has too much to do and not enough time to do it in; however, training is such an important component of a successful support organization that some sacrifices must be made. Ask (or have your manager ask) coworkers to perform specific functions that you would normally handle. Try to spread the work out among several people. Don’t just ask one person to do it all. Odds are, they won’t be able to get it all done or they will be so overworked, they’ll resent both you and your manager. And don’t think that no one else can do your job. Very few people are irreplaceable. Someone just may not be readily available.
Hire part-time help
If you’re going to be training for an extended period of time, think about hiring a temp. While temps are not appropriate in every situation or for every job, they can almost always prove to be useful if utilized properly. A temp may not be able to do a network administrator’s job, but he or she might be able to fill a coworker’s position for a few days, freeing that person to handle some of the network administrator’s duties.
Use on-the-job training
Try to incorporate training into daily job functions or special projects. If you’re going to be installing a new piece of equipment or upgrading software, schedule a little training time into the rollout process. Also, use your experienced techs as a training resource. Have more experienced technicians walk newer support personnel through solving difficult problems. This interaction provides training while performing normal work responsibilities.
Offer training lunches
While no techs want to give up all their lunches, they would probably be willing to give one up for some valuable training, especially if the organization provides the meal. One of my previous employers would offer everyone on the help desk a training lunch about once a month. We would have someone from either outside the enterprise or from another department come and speak with us while we ate on the company’s tab.
Reschedule/postpone unnecessary meetings
Raise your hand if you’ve been to unnecessary meetings. Okay, everyone put your hands down. Let’s face it; some meetings just don’t need to happen, and training is a perfect motive for rescheduling or canceling them. Ask yourself if it would be better to sit around for an hour talking about what happened last week or learning how the company’s new business suite works.
Now, before you go out and schedule that weeklong A+ or MCSE prep course, let me remind you to use caution. You must tailor these suggestions to your own unique situation. The week before an operating system upgrade may not be the best time for wireless network training. Use your best judgment when scheduling any training event.
Do you have a great training tip? What do you think of these five suggestions? Tell us what training arrangement works best for you. Please post a comment below or send us a note.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.