Well Trained Staff

I’ve had the opportunity in the last month to do a couple of different consulting visits, one private and one through my employer, Redgate. The goals of each of the visits was different, but I received an impression at each that I want to share.

We couldn’t be talking about two more different organizations. One is a large, global concern, headquartered in the US (named with permission, Channel Advisor, go here to get a job after you read about them). The other was a more mid-sized (although with quite a few more servers, as in hundreds more) concern focused in a single European country.

I can’t share more detail about the organizations than that. Sorry.

Teaching Educated People

Going into these, I expected to have to lay a lot of groundwork and do a lot of introductory stuff. Why? Because I usually do. It’s not uncommon, at all, to go into places that aren’t very comfortable with SQL Server at all, let alone the intricacies of data management, DR, tuning, etc.

Yet, at Channel Advisor, instead of me teaching them, I was taking notes and learning things from start of the engagement.

At the second place, while I didn’t receive an education, I had to be completely up on my toes because these were engaged, informed, smart and educated people.

Ultimately, I took away a common lesson from both places.

It is possible to have a well trained staff. Both places had unique challenges, but you could see how the staff worked together to support each other. There wasn’t a sense of “Person X” over here is the super-star that all the work flows through and everyone else are bit players. No. These were teams, in every sense of the word, and they were firing in sequence as a good team engine will.

Why?

I’ve worked at places that seemed to be filled with smart people who worked well together and I’ve worked places that felt like a war zone. I’ve been a part of the team and I’ve been a part of the problem. Why were these two teams so wildly different than most places I go?

My biggest impression was that the organization and the managers involved cared. Were these jobs? Yes. Was there doubtless silly or stupid stuff going on with the occasional politics thrown in for fun? I’m positive there was. Human beings are involved after all.

However, both organizations cared enough about their people to bring someone in who might be able to add to the knowledge and skills of their team. Both organizations scheduled time away from the day-to-day tasks for their people. Both are clearly the kind of place most of us, I assume, would like to work.

It was just great to see this in action and I thought I’d share it with you. There really are high performing teams out there.

Recommendation

Get your boss on board with the idea that training and education are a fundamental part of the job. You’re responsible for your own career, that’s a fact. However, you can work as a team with your employer to get this kind of thing done. There are quite a few people out there who can fly in to your organization and put on a day or a week of training. You’ll all still be local and accountable, but you can all still learn things too.

Yeah, they shouldn’t be afraid to send you off to PASS Summit (NEXT WEEK OMG!), but even if they can’t do that, get them to bring in people. You’ll be better for it. They’ll be better for it. Your organization will benefit.

UPDATE: Channel Advisor requested that I mention them by name and I’m more than happy to oblige. You guys are doing great work as technologists and as an organization. Please, keep going.

2 thoughts on “Well Trained Staff

  • Bryant McClellan

    Back in 2008, the then-VP of IT at my employer realized he could no longer afford to send IT staff to conferences. Techapalooza was born and the conferences are here. No, we don’t have PASS, or That Conference or SxSW on site. But we have 1 week in March every year that is dedicated to Tech. The entire company is invited, not just the digit-heads. We do a lot of internal presentations. We’ve also had NASA, Microsoft, Gartner, the FBI, R2D2. We had an A10 pilot from our local Air Guard unit. We even landed Scott Hanselman very recently.

    We invite a number of local companies to participate. It is not an easy invite to get and those who do continue to return and contribute. We have a student competition each year that results in scholarship contributions. Some of those student presenters even became employees.

    Today Techapalooza is still going strong, All presenters are impressed with The Band (yes, we have our own)…and some say they will require a band to open for them when they go to other conferences. And today we have people going to the other conferences I mentioned, and then some. I guess you could say I landed at an employer who embodies what you describe. Truthfully, without everything you described, no company would be willing to make those kinds of investments.

    I consider myself very fortunate to be where I am, among hugely intelligent people who also care about each other.

    • That sounds amazing. It is the kind of thing that an organization that really wants to stand out has to do. Sure, maybe sending people off to cross-pollinate at an external event has some winning to it, but at least getting the pollination going internally is a must. Well done.

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