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Building Better Training Opportunities

By Steve Jones,

Recently I wrote a piece about some advice on quitting over training budgets, or the lack thereof. It had some interesting comments, but one stood out to me because it's something I've heard and seen before. One of the readers noted that their company had bought a subscription for employees to learn new skills, but few of them had taken advantage of the courses.

I'm not surprised. Many people are tired at the end of the day. Many people are fairly satisfied with their jobs. They're not great, but not horrible, and we enjoy solving problems most days. Most of us would like to continue working where we are, in a stable situation. Not all of us, but many of us want to go to work and get paid for doing so, without a lot of motivation to do more.

That's fine, and I understand the pressures and stresses from the rest of life that weigh you down. I do understand that there are times that most of us would like to get away from work when we can and enjoy time with family, hobbies, faith, and more. My advice is that those things are important, but so is your career. Make some time to improve and grow your career and skills, even if you plan to stick with your current job. You never know when things will change.

With that in mind, I think buying a subscription to Pluralsight or some other training option without providing any motivation or incentive is a poor plan. There needs to be some goals or expectations, and hopefully some sharing of the learning experience.

If you need motivation, or you want to motivate co-workers, what about a competition? Challenge each other to complete a module of a course and write some code. Whether that's to script installs with Chef, create a CI pipeline, count words with Python, or write faster T-SQL, if you have a goal, you'll do better. I've had companies where we scheduled group watching of training, and with a small competition at the end, we found more people to be engaged and active in their learning.

You could even make this a part of the review process, though please don't just make this a checkbox. Ensure that if you want employees to learn something, you ask that they complete a class and contribute something back. Teach others, build something useful, or benefit the organization in some way. 

When there is a little more motivation, there's a little more effort, and that can go a long way towards improving the skills of your workforce.

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