Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why You Need to Grab for Training Opportunities at Work

You may be so busy at work that you're lucky to hit the bathroom once a day and find time to grab a sandwich to eat at your desk. When your boss offers you more training, your immediate response may be to decline. More training? Who has the time?

But in this story I did for Gannett/USAToday, you'll see that it's to your advantage never to turn down a chance to learn something new....

One of the more frustrating messages in this poor economy has been employers' contention that they have job openings but the skilled labor needed to fill them isn't available.

Now, instead of complaining, more companies are beginning to train employees for the skills they need. Some are even working with high schools and colleges to develop students who will be ready to take on those jobs when they graduate.

Chief Executive Marc Blumenthal of Intelladon, which provides talent-management solutions to employers, says some employers now are designing very specific career development paths for workers, arming them with the skills needed now and in the future.

Among the most popular skills employers want are communication, writing, finance and customer service, he says.

Still, an employer won't target all of it's current workers for development. If you're not on the list, your company might not consider you worth the effort and your future there could be limited. Also, missing out on a company-paid training opportunities or education can put you at a disadvantage if you have to look for another job and lack critical skills.

So how do you position yourself to be selected for more on-the-job training?

Many companies have employee-development plans clearly outlined in their performance guidelines, so Blumenthal suggests first making sure you're following those steps to the letter. This can include getting certain certifications before being eligible for the next step.

If your company's career guidelines aren't spelled out clearly, you still can make yourself stand out as someone worth the investment, he says. Watch employees in your company whose work is being recognized already.

"You want to model them and make them your mentors," Blumenthal says.

Another key: Be known as someone who treats customers like gold, he says.

"These days, it's all about service," Blumenthal says. "Everyone has to be focused on keeping the customers happy."

Deborah Shane, a career brand strategist, says you want to show an employer that you're a disciplined and focused worker, but one who also is eager to embrace new opportunities.

"Go into management and tell them that you have an idea on how to streamline a process or improve something. Show that you want to be a part of the process," she says.

Blumenthal says it's important to be seen as someone who can offer solutions or jump in to help with a problem. One way to do that these days is through an online wiki or intranet that companies use for employees to collaborate and seek solutions.

"Employees who are massive contributors (to online boards) and answer the most questions and provide the most solutions are more likely" to be considered for additional opportunities within the company, such as training or education, he says.

Shane agrees, noting that employers favor those who are "go to" people and willing to be a resource to help other team members. Most employers want to see employees with she calls an "entrepreneurial mindset."

"It's having the attitude that you may work for an employer, but you act like it's your business," she says. "Employers want to see you bring your very best, just like you would if you owned the company."

Even if your employer doesn't have a formal training program, Blumenthal says you should pursue improving your skills. For example, you can ask your boss if she will pay for you to take a computer training class because it will help you use new technology and be more productive. Many training programs now are available online, making it even more convenient.

"Always relate it to how your job can be done better," he says.

In addition, federal money targeted for job training means that you may be able to find local programs that will pay for some or all of your training, he says.

"Most companies do want to invest in their people," Blumenthal says. "You can help them see that it doesn't have to be expensive."



terri said...

Great article! And on top of all the more tangible benefits, training tends to give the employee added confidence so she gets an exponential benefit from the new skills.

Susan said...

So true. Employees shouldn't have to wait for company-sponsored training opportunities, and instead choose to seek out training and workshops on their own. If not to improve their value at work, then to at least improve themselves.

Abraham T Mathew said...

Susan says one has to go for training to improve the self. True but can be applied only to employees who can avail leave and they will go for it only if the training fetches jumps in the career. If company is valuing the employee and his skill, company shall be arranging training invariably. More Training More Better shall be the Human Resource. Abraham T Mathew