If you sat down and force ranked your top 5 business priorities, what would that list include? Maintaining a customer pipeline? Responding to clients? Building a marketable brand? Let’s be real: employee training is not typically in the top five.
Training and development have an intuitive value associated with it. Wherever you are in your career, the knowledge and skills you have are a direct result of learning. Being able to communicate on a wide variety of technical topics, solve complex technical issues, and negotiate with clients all hinge on the skills and knowledge you have accumulated.
It’s so simple: staying up-to-date on information and knowledge pays dividends…somehow. But there’s the rub: the value of time spent learning is abstract. Reading a trade journal seems like a smart investment but when you crack it open, what do you hope to gain? Pursuing learning for learning’s sake is beautiful, but if you weigh that against closing a deal with a prospective lead then the sale always wins. It’s a seductive path to the dark side: keep your nose to the grindstone and learning will happen someday.
Instead of paying lip service to learning, invest some of your most precious resources to it, but be smart; we’re talking about time here, folks. Being intentional with how you spend time will determine how effectively you reap benefits. There are two ways you can go about it: little bits over a long time or a lot of time in a short spurt. Let’s go with the better option first.
Five minutes a week of intentional learning over a year will give you four hours and 40 minutes of high-quality training. That’s one cup-of-coffee’s worth of time. From a development standpoint, the human brain can more effectively store and recall information when it’s spread out, rather than received in a giant info dump. By integrating a five-minute habit at 11 am on a Monday to read an article or two, take an eLearning, or watch a lecture on YouTube, you will be giving yourself almost five hours of high-quality training over a year.
The downside to this little-bits-over-a-long-time strategy is that if the little bits don’t build on each other, you will not have five hours of deep training on a topic but five minutes of shallow training on 52 different topics. This means that the planning and design for this training habit need to be organized at the start. Identifying a core topic area, a discrete skill, or a domain of knowledge is a crucial step from the beginning. Being intentional takes time and discipline to execute, which is a major deterrent to this strategy.
The other option avoids the planning-and-discipline issue by consolidating the training into a short time period. This is like cramming for a college exam: four to forty hours spread over a week will make it much easier to focus on a skill or knowledge area. This could happen in a three-day training session offered by a vendor, blocking an afternoon to complete a large number of eLearnings, or trying to pass a certification.
This is tempting but less effective. The human brain can only synthesize a certain amount of information at one time and if the information is not referenced or tested on a regular basis then it can be lost. If you want your learning time to be effective, it’s much better to break it up and spread it out over time.
Datto’s learning resources can help you in both these categories depending on what you prefer. The Technical Specialist I and Technical Specialist II learning plans tend to be completed in large chunks. The Training Team sees people blow through most or all of these learning plans in a few sessions. On the other hand, we have metrics that indicate that learners complete the Advanced Sales Tactics learning plans Going Up Market and Identifying More Opportunities in more sessions with less time per session. You do you, but we recommend breaking up the time you spend into small chunks.Once you have consumed all of Datto’s learning resources, take a half hour and figure out an ongoing learning strategy:
- Is there a competence or certification you want?
- Is your business missing a certain skillset?
- Do you have a strategic plan you want to execute more effectively?
Figure out the topic, figure out what you want to be able to do, and set a SMART goal. Allocate some time. Get excited to learn.
If Datto Training can help you get there, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.