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Talk to me, listen to me, lead me!

Visiting clients to help the sales people within the business I work is one of the most enjoyable activities I do each week. Much of my job is spent at a desk, but each week I make one or two customers visits to understand their challenges and how we can help.

Each client has a a similar set of challenges with varying degrees of severity in them. For instance, this week I visited a client that wanted to discuss how we could help them with their internal support desk teams. The team who help staff with PC or application problems.

The brief was to discuss how we could help them with reducing the amount of complaints they were getting from the staff about how quickly and efficiently people’s support requests were being dealt with each week.

After seeing how the group was structured, it became clear that there were some points of weakness in the support team which needed addressing.

The first one was leadership. The team managers were technically capable people but they were not leading and managing their teams effectively. They were too involved in taking support calls themselves to be able to provide any guidance or direction to their subordinates.

Secondly, the support team members were also technically capable to varying degrees but their ability to communicate effectively with other staff was poor. Also, the support team had no structured way in which to deal with support requests which led to confusion about who had helped who and what had been done about it.

Finally, there was no formal way in which individuals in that that group could see how their career in that organisation could progress.

This type of situation is ‘bread and butter’ for a training company. Technical ability among the managers is often the reason why they get the managers job, and not their leadership and management skills. If more attention was paid to leadership in an organisation rather than just technical ability, then life in many organisations would become a lot more tolerable and enjoyable.

Also, the ability to be able to communicate effectively is often overlooked in IT departments. The ability not to just understand the technical problem that people are having but also to empathise with them would increase their IT departments standing in the organisation no end.

Finally, if organisations would spend a little more time training their staff how to use all of that great capability on their desktops, then they would save themselves a lot of time, money and bad feeling. But I would say that!

More time to learn new skills – Part 1

In the IT training world, everything is based around fitting as much content into five days as possible to make the most of the instructor time. Traditional training companies are based upon this principle for their business models. There is nothing particularly wrong with that because it is good for making the business viable and good for giving the course delegates a concentrated burst of information and skills.

The problem comes when the course subject may in fact be too long to fit into five days. Some vendors try to fit six or eight days of content into five days. The result is that the course is rushed and the delegates may not really learn because they have no time to practice the new skills about which they are learning. Or sometimes, vendors fit five says of content into three days of training.

Of course, it’s all about time. The time suits the people buying the training course. It suits the training company and the skills are supposed to be learned in that allocated time.

However, the human brain just cannot take in the amount of information that is conveyed in courses which are ‘crammed’ like this. There is simply not enough time for the learners to practice what they have learned in the classroom. Therefore, most of what gets taught in the classroom is forgotten.

So what can be done?

I will explain a new way in Part 2 of this article.