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I Want Stupid Employees

By Steve Jones,

It seems that the vast majority of people that I talk to in the technology field have trouble getting training funded. It doesn't matter if it's a conference or a class, it seems that companies don't want to spend money training people. I find that many companies use one of two excuses. Either they say employees should already know how to do their jobs, or they worry that training will empower employees to go find other jobs.

Or in other words: I Like My IT Budget Tight and My Developers Stupid.

That's the title of an article and it's a good question for managers that don't want to pay for training. The article talks about the choice between being "concerned that if people know what they're doing, they'll leave. And if they don't know what they're doing, they'll stay". It's actually not a bad argument to make with your boss, though I might reword it in a different way.

There are a certain percentage of people that will not be happy at your company. Perhaps the job is not a good cultural fit, the employees might be ambitious and looking for new challenges, or maybe they are always looking for someone to pay them more. There's nothing you can do about those people, and withholding training isn't going to keep them around.

There are also a percentage of people that are unmotivated, uninterested in their jobs, maybe marking time, or just wanting to get through each day and go on with the rest of their lives. Training can be wasted on this group as they aren't likely to use the skills they've learned at work. It's possible they might not even learn any skills, just sitting in class as an excuse to get out of work. You can't do anything about this group either.

However I think that both of those groups are the minorities at most jobs. I believe most technology people are interested in what they do, like to learn new skills, and more importantly, like to solve problems. They will take advantage of training and look to use their new skills, especially if you challenge them to do so. And most of these people aren't looking to leave your company. They might stay forever, but the vast majority of people want to keep their jobs and accomplish something.

And if most people don't want to stay, perhaps you ought to examine your company's culture. Maybe it's the problem. Withholding training isn't the answer, and you can't expect people to know, or learn, everything they may need on their own. That's a recipe to ensure your company isn't as competitive as it could be.

Steve Jones


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