In a world where we are always connected, staying up to date with technology is the key to being successful. However, most in the IT industry would say they often have an hour or two at best of free time on a given weekday. Large projects with tight deadlines seem to swallow carefully planned schedules, precluding the learning necessary to stay current in the field. The problem needs to be addressed by both managers and employees. Managers who only look out for their own interests, at the expense of those they employ, will soon find themselves directing a group of behind the curve busy-bodies. Employees who don’t take it upon themselves to learn after hours will soon be outclassed by their colleagues. By guarding against this on both fronts, a business will have many advantages over their competitors.
While it may seem beneficial to have employees overhaul their schedules to drive product development and meet constant deadlines, the negative long-term effects of doing so may counterbalance many positive ones. An employee who desires to be a leader in his industry, but cannot achieve his goal because of burdensome commitments with no adequate time to grow with training, may eventually choose to go elsewhere. An employee who only sees the value of their craft on a piece of paper every pay period will be content to trade longer hours for larger paychecks, at the expense of skill development and may find themselves extinct in terms of technology in a short period of time. Managers need to carefully contemplate which type of employee they would like to have contributing to their team down the road.
Some positions are repetitive in nature and do not require extensive skill development to perform well. Although IT jobs do not fall into this category, they may appear to over short periods of time. It is easy for an employee to lull himself into a state of complacency when they have mastered all the skills required to navigate their work day. If you or others in your organization do not value training as something high on your list, you should reconsider. I have worked with every range of engineers from entry level developers directly out of boot camp to principal consultants and architects who have worked on multi-million dollar projects. But the one common thing I have noticed among those who have rose through the ranks and achieved elevated levels of success with their teams, is their desire to learn and adapt as technology changes by training outside their normal schedule of meeting the objectives of producing useful software.
Both managers and employees need to consider the value of training. Managers need to realize that employees who are overloaded with tasks to complete may not be able to adequately grow with training and long-term performance will suffer. Employees need to keep long-term goals in mind as well, because success is hard to achieve if you have not trained and prepared for it. With regular focused training, you gain valuable exposure to what is out there and what is do-able with different technologies. Again … “You don’t know what you don’t know”. Don’t let the pattern of undervaluing training hold you and your team back. It is important to become good at time management and make training a vital part of your schedule.
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