The Importance of Training

Post by Matt

One of my roles on the CAI-U team is as a trainer of Managed Maintenance and Tracer, two of Computer Aid, Inc’s offerings. Through this role of trainer I’ve learned quickly the importance of organizations putting time into training, and how much time they can save down the line by investing in education rather than having folks try to figure something out on their own.

With the economy being the way it is, companies are cutting down costs wherever they can, and understandably so. More often than not, the training department of a company is the first to feel the strain, followed immediately by anyone seeking out training within a company. It seems like a substantial expense to pay for training on an application or process, especially when a user could, in theory, muddle through and eventually get to a point where they can manage the item.

In my experience, training is always worth it, and always results in better results.

A lot is happening in training that most people really don’t think about when deciding to invest the time and expense. Of course there is the instruction on the application, process, or item itself. This is something that a student could probably work out (unless it’s a very complex application or process). Most times people will stop at this point, but learning the process or item is just the beginning of what training does.

What surprised me the most in training was how much of it was simply directing and monitoring conversation within groups. Inevitably I’d say something that would generate a statement or question, and POW: lively group discussion. The majority of the time the questions and discussion centered on how the team would be using this idea, or how it could be implemented, or how it solved a problem they had. The team as a group is becoming more comfortable about how this item is going to be used, how they are going to use it on their own, and what to expect.

Secondly, training allows people to make mistakes on purpose and without penalty. As a trainer (and I think most trainers hold this position) you want students to make mistakes. It’s a good learning opportunity for the whole class and will give them the ammunition to handle another such mistake whenever they go live and don’t have you peeking over their shoulder. Furthermore, by knowing how something breaks, people can gain a better understanding how something works. This saves a huge amount of time when a team is actually using the item or application because they’ll have some idea of what buttons will cause problems on what screens, or how to fix a small problem without making it worse.

My final case for training is this: training saves money. No, seriously. If a company spends money to train  people on how to use program B, let’s say, they will significantly reduce help desk calls, program B errors, water cooler training (training that occurs intermittently whenever a person encounters something they aren’t familiar with), and mistakes. Furthermore, everyone has a base level of knowledge, which helps a manager know at least the base level of knowledge on program B that his team members possess.

What do you think? Is training something that does require a formal classroom or better left for folks to figure out on their own? Let me know, I’d be interested in your opinion.

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