Saturday, January 23, 2016


On the heels of my Skills Dilemma blog post, I wanted to share some thoughts on training.  Throughout my career, I've been on both sides of that the military and in private sector consulting, I've received, as well as developed and conducted training at various levels.  I've attended presentations, and developed and conducted presentations, at a number of levels and at a variety of venues.

Corey's also had some pretty interesting thoughts with respect to training in his blog.

There are a lot of great training options out there.  When you're looking at the various options, are you looking to use up training funds, or are you looking for specific skills development?  What is the purpose of the training?  What's your intent in either attending the training, or sending someone, a staff member, to that training?

If you're just looking to use up training funds so that you'll get that money included in your budget next year, well, pretty much anything will do.  However, if you're looking for specific skills development, whether it's basic or advanced skills, you may want to look closely at what's being taught in the course.

What would really help with this is a Yelp-like system for reviewing training courses.  Wait...what?  You think someone should actually evaluate the services they pay for and receive?  What are you, out of your mind?

So, here's my a manager, you sit down with one of your staff and develop performance indicators and goals for the coming year, as well as a plan for achieving those goals.  The two of you decide that in order to meet those goals, one step is to attend a specific training course.  Your staff member attends, and then you both write a review.  You both write a review of the course based on what you agreed you wanted to achieve by attending the course; the staff member based on attending the course, and you (as the manager) based on your observation of your staff member's use of their new skills.

I'll say it again...there are a lot of great training options out there, but in my experience, what's missing is accountability for that training.  What I mean by that is, if you're a manager and you send someone off to training (whether they obtain a certification or not), do you hold them accountable for that training once they return?

Here's an example...when I was on active duty and was stationed overseas, there was an NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) response course being conducted, and being the junior guy, I was sent.  After I'd passed the course and received my certificate, I returned to my unit, and did absolutely NOTHING with respect to NBC.  Basically, I was simply away for a week.  I was sent off to the training for no other reason than I was the low guy on the totem pole, and when I returned, I was neither asked about, nor required to use or implement that training in any way.  There was no accountability.

Later in my tenure in the military, I found an opening for some advanced training for a Sgt who worked for me.  I felt strongly that this Sgt should be promoted and advance in his career, and one way to shore up his chances was to ensure that he advanced in his military occupational specialty.  I got him a seat in the training course, got his travel set up, and while he was gone, I found a position in another unit where he would put his new-found skills to good use.  When he returned, I informed him of his transfer (which had other benefits for him, as well).  His new role required him to teach junior Marines about the device he'd been trained on, as well as train the new officers attending the Basic Communication Officers Course on how to use and deploy the device, as well.  He was held accountable for the training he'd received.

How often do we do this?  Be honest.  I've seen an analyst that had attended some pretty extensive training, only to return and within the next couple of weeks, not know how to determine if a file had been time stomped or not.  I know that the basics of how to conduct that type of analysis were covered in the training they'd attended.

Generalist vs. Specialist
What kind of training are you interested in?  Basic skills development, or advanced training in a very specific skill set?  What specific skills are you looking for?  Are they skills specific to your environment?

There's a lot of good generalist training out there, training that provides a broad range of skills.  You may want to start there, and then develop an in-house training program ("brown bag" lunch presentations, half- or full-day training, mentoring, etc.) that reinforces and extends those basic skills into something that's specific to your environment.


Robert Thomson said...

"file had been time stomped or not" Assume stomped = stamped.

Mind you it still works.

Nice article to by the way.

Harlan Carvey said...


No, I meant stomped...all files have time stamps, not all files are time stomped.


drea london said...

Excellent points here.

Harlan Carvey said...


Anything in particular stand out?

drea london said...

Being held accountable. So often I see folks get excited and motivated after taking a class in something they are interested in. But without the opportunity to use the skills or motivation to keep the skill tuned, they are forgotten. Even if you are accountable at a minimum to share course materials and feedback of the content to other members of the team, thats better than nothing.

Harlan Carvey said...

Agreed. That's why managers need to be selective in the training that their analysts attend.

There is a great opportunity for continued training, if the attendee then uses what they learned to provide training and mentoring to other analysts.