Friday, December 7, 2007

I haven't been trained on that yet

I've heard from various co-workers over the years - "I can't do that, I haven't been trained yet".

Typically they're referring to formal training. This can be through online courses, actual training sessions or professional coursework. Having a user's manual just doesn't cut it.

Sometimes this is just another way of protesting that they don't want additional responsibility.

Sometimes it is a genuine fear of change.

But it seems to me that often in IT - the time or resources to formally train someone are not there.

Perhaps I just pick things up quickly, but there are lots of aspects of my job that I was never trained on. I've just figured it out. I may have made mistakes - but for the most part, things have worked out.

Maybe it was my liberal arts education.

Part of working in this fairly new field - you need to be adaptable. Quickly. You need to experiment with new and different tools and formats. What was on the cutting edge fifteen years ago is old hat now (can you say pong?).

As a manager (which I'm not), I would be more interested in promoting someone who was willing to look at new technology - to try new things. For example, if someone wasn't willing to use a microsoft product - I might be a little concerned.

I'm not talking about someone who doesn't like using Microsoft and prefers open source code.

I'm talking about someone who is unwilling to work with a product like Microsoft Excel or Access - simply because they have never used it before. Microsoft is notoriously user friendly - part of the reason it was so dominent in the first place. There are always help type screens or files.

Maybe the intention is to sell to management that our jobs are complex and the person off of the street wouldn't be able to understand.

There are lots of things in life that we didn't have formal training for. I didn't have training to be a parent. We attended a birthing class. And I did babysit a great deal as a teenager - as well as take care of my younger siblings.

For the most part - I'm just winging it. Doing what I think works best for me and my kids - while keeping advice and research in the back of my mind.

I'm not saying that training doesn't have its place. I wouldn't want someone to operate on me without formal medical certification. Or to be driving a car without a license.

But it doesn't make sense (in this IT/business climate) to dwell on the lack of training. With some business critical pieces of software, it might. But for something like MS Access - the people who have gotten ahead (that I've seen) are the ones who figure things out on their own.


laura said...

A librarian I know wrote something very similar about librarianship a few months ago. I guess it's not necessarily tied to a given profession or industry.

Aerin said...

Thanks Laura for that link. It is very appropriate.

I think what's also hard (what I didn't write in the post) is the tension between "management" and the employees.

Employees want to know that they can receive training and grow in their careers. Management would prefer not to pay for that training. (AND - with that said, I have been to some training that was basically useless in relationship to my actual job).

I think it has to be taken on a case by case basis - it also depends on the place where you work and their culture.

Freckle Face Girl said...

I agree! I am one to just jump into a project and figure it out as I go along. I think the good thing about that is that management tends to micro-manage people who aren't like that. I can still add things to my resume, but without an official date of being trained.

Aerin said...

Thanks FFG - I'm amazed that you're up and putting comments on blogs! Good for you! Congrats on your new little one, btw. Glad to hear everyone is doing well.