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Why is regular training and skills development so essential?

Let’s start by being clear about what this thing called training is:

Training is the activity of learning or teaching the skills and knowledge needed for a particular job or activity.’  – Cambridge Dictionary

To be able to do a job well you need to be shown how to do it correctly, whether you are, for example, a service desk analyst or a senior manager.

No-one is born knowing how to undertake the roles they end up in. Everything we do, at every level has to be learnt, understood, and further refined and developed until we become excellent at what we do.

Top flight tennis players are not born possessing the full range of shots and the consistent degree of accuracy with which they play – they have had and continue to receive, extensive training and development.

Nurses undergo extensive and ongoing training and development to ensure they are able to perform consistently at the highest level, no matter the circumstances in which they are working.

Excellent, high-calibre service desk analysts and managers didn’t get all that knowledge overnight as if by magic – they received (and continue to receive) ongoing and relevant training and development.

All these people have managers, or people at a higher level of authority, who understand the importance of ongoing, regular, and relevant training for their staff/employees/team.

In the world of IT Service Management, as elsewhere in business – training courses should be seen as both a reward and statement of belief in the individuals.  Any training course should produce motivated staff. They should return from a course fired-up and enthusiastic.

It is then the manager’s responsibility to ensure they foster that motivation and enthusiasm. Motivation and enthusiasm make it much easier for us to perform our roles really well.

What happens when managers are reluctant to spend on training and education for their teams?

No training or inadequate training means that people are not properly equipped to their job well. This is a classic cause of stress. Stress frequently leads to sickness – which results in people being absent from the workplace. Ill. This creates additional pressure on the remainder of the team which in turn causes them stress. And what does stress lead to? Sickness. Absences.

Insufficient staff in the team to perform to the required level in accordance with the SLAs, etc. – creating even more stress.  It’s a hiding to nowhere really, isn’t it? And then we find that staff start looking for another job. It’s a vicious circle.

I have heard, too often, a manager boast about how they managed to ‘save’ on their annual training budget by not spending it all. Oh dear. Mistake. They have almost certainly just got caught out by the ‘use it or lose it’ principle:

Manager: “I saved $12,000 on training this year.”

Senior manager: “Great – you clearly don’t need it so we’ll allocate you $12K less on next year’s training budget.”

How can you know what training is most suitable for your team?

Every manager should be able to answer the following questions – as should all of their team members:

  1. What training do my team need to enable the team to succeed now?
  2. What training do my team need to enable them to support future developments in service and support?
  3. What training will also contribute to their individual personal development?
  4. What are their career aspirations?

Managers who understand the importance of using their training budget wisely and well regularly do the following:

  • Identify training needs for their team and for the individuals.
  • Map training to business requirements – looking at what is needed now and what will be needed in the future.
  • Listen to their staff and take note of what they hear
  • Look for training that delivers what their team members need personally and professionally.

So what is the typical outcome of this practical, mindful approach to training and development?

  • Staff feel recognised, appreciated, and rewarded
  • They feel motivated, cheerful and enthusiastic
  • They know how to perform their roles properly
  • They work even harder – willingly

Some more persuasive arguments for training and skills development

Firstly – training is a recognition and a reward and should be ‘sold’ as such to the team, NOT seen as a punishment for poor performance.

 ‘All our staff hold SDI Qualifications – this is a good sales point and looks great on the team or company CV/resume.

Well-trained staff = competent and knowledgeable staff.

All SDI products have a strong focus on customer service and support, in line with best practice.

Customers notice the positive impact of training – they can feel, hear, and see the enthusiasm and motivation in the team.

The Service Desk Manager (SDM) course and the Service Desk Certification program have excellent management content and can be used very effectively for non-IT managers. Trust me. I’ve taught SDM to managers from different parts of an organization.

They love the management content. I’ve also taught the Analyst course to non-IT employees and they invariably tell me they have benefited immensely from the customer service content.

SDI curriculum has been described as ‘the practical application of theory’ – in my opinion, it is.

Everyone who undergoes SDI training gets a far better sense of direction and clarity of purpose as far as their role and responsibilities go – they understand what they are supposed to be doing, and how to do it.

High-quality, well-structured, effective SDI courses are undoubtedly good value for money –resulting in slicker, smoother, more professional service delivery and support.

And finally (but not exclusively) : Training to the required level of expertise and knowledge for Analysts and Managers will make your path to valuable SDI Certification SO much simpler

The final part of this blog is concerned with your approach to persuading your manager to invest in you by sending you on SDI courses. What you say and how you say it are both very important – especially the ‘how’.

A demanding, strident, overly-assertive approach will probably not work and is far more likely to annoy your manager, causing them to dig their heels in and keep on saying ‘no’.

Factual, polite, enthusiastic reasoning will get you further. As will staying calm and reasonable.

Sometimes there is genuinely no money in the pot for training – and this is when a manager needs to have a good business plan ready for the next round of finance.

People in charge of the money simply do not accept non-factual arguments. And they love to see a good business plan with value, Return On Investment, and expected benefits clearly set out. And that’s fair enough, it’s the professional approach.  The little picture below provides some good points to remember:


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