In every profession, individuals who have more training, skills, knowledge, and abilities will produce far greater results than someone who is just average or a brand new apprentice in a given field.
If you are conducting a high value military raid, would you rather send in SEAL Team 6 or a group of brand new recruits just out of Basic Training? Naturally, you are going to send in your best. The new recruits need a lot more seasoning, training and experience.
And this is also very true within any field, including the technology industry. At the same time, you have to get this experience by actually doing some aspects of the job and learning. And this requires an investment on the part of any organization. The alternative, is that you have to go out and hire talent that already has these skills, knowledge and abilities that you require, this however, can be very time consuming and expensive.
So, you are always having to strike a balance between what your budget can afford and training and developing more junior staff. In this blog article we will cover some of the most common techniques on how to continuously develop your teams and build them into a high performing organization.
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” Socrates
Developing any skill or talent is a lifelong pursuit, and this is especially true within the technology field, where things change every year. Whether that is what version of a database we are using, which programming language, how our Cloud / virtualized environments are operating, what design methods are we using, etc. As leaders we need to encourage all of our staff to learn and develop new skills and talents as well as encouraging the most senior members on your team(s) to mentor and develop the younger and more junior team members.
Which techniques you decide to use and implement will in large part depend upon the following:
All of us “joke” about someone being hit by the bus, and then the organization has to scramble quickly to figure out what to do and how to keep everything working correctly. For me this happened when I had just started as a VP of software development at Universal Technical Institute. Our Sr. Director of network engineering and most of his team took a few days off and took a bus trip to go skiing in Utah. On the way back the driver was going too fast for the road conditions and ended up flipping the charter bus.
Fortunately, none of our team were killed, but all of them were seriously injured in the crash. While one team organized a rescue party to transport them once they were stabilized to hospitals in the Phoenix area; the rest of us started pitching in and helping the remaining staff as best as we could. Anyone within IT who knew anything about networks and servers was recruited to help out.
Also fortunately, our Sr. Director had documented all of the critical and high priority items along with instructions, so while it was challenging - we were still able to operate the business, while he and his team recovered in the hospital. This just shows that you must be prepared for these possibilities.
Pizza is cheap, this is a minor blip on your budget and you’re doing it during lunch.
Costs of the conference badge, travel costs, etc.
Sending staff to an education facility or bringing the trainer to you.
Can be done individually or as a small group.
This can be as simple as running a leadership reaction course to a full blown aircraft simulator or something in between - like Practicing disaster recovery or an application failure.
The bottom line is that if you want to have an “A-Team” that is high performing, you have to practice and develop your team members constantly. Introducing them to new techniques and concepts, as well as providing an environment where they can try out new things or come up with their own solutions to a problem. This is an investment in your team, both as a whole and on an individual basis.
The alternative, which sometimes you have to do, is hire the talent who already have these skills and abilities. However, this can be very expensive. But even if you hire a technical rock-star, they still need to learn your internal processes and procedures.
Organizations that treat continuing education as just a standard process or thing that must be done, will be rewarded tremendously in the long term; as your team will become more productive, produce higher quality output, come up with more innovative solutions and be able to better react in a crisis situation.
We hope you enjoyed this article,
Thank you, David Annis.