By Zane Schweer, Global Knowledge
People. Process. Technology.
Of course, “people” don’t always come first. Organizations have a tendency to approach this backwards because who needs training when you have this cool shiny technology?
You can’t maximize your return on technology without process and you can’t have technology or process without people. People are appreciating assets, but when not nurtured, their skills depreciate and the organization suffers because people leave. So if you’re an individual who knows the power of investing in people and needs help, this guide on how to convince your manager of the benefits of IT training will become a key resource.
After reading this article, whether you’re requesting training for yourself or your team, you will be better prepared to build and state your case for the business-delivering value of training.
Four things NOT to do when requesting IT training from your manager
- Bring up anything salary related—this is not about you. He or she doesn’t want to hear it. While you may earn a salary increase in time, this is not the time to bring it up. Show your worth, don’t state your worth.
- Shine a light on the fact that over 69% of unsatisfied employees are very likely to be pursuing new opportunities and looking to leave their job.1 This is a subtle threat and you don’t want your boss thinking you’re looking to leave. You’ll be leaving sooner than you’d like and not on your terms.
- Act and feel entitled that the company should pay for your training.
- Become negative if the training is not approved.
- You don’t know what else is going on within the organization.
- Don’t hold it against your boss. Most managers don’t wake up saying, “I can’t wait to say no to training requests today! I don’t want my team to be better.” It simply might be out of their hands.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to business.
How to convince your manager there’s a training need
Individual contributors, team managers and everyone above all have different tasks to accomplish, but they have the same North Star—deliver results.
That’s why your chances of success increase when you’re able to position and show training as having a tangible business return.
Make it about the business. Not about you.
Build your business case
Again, it’s not about you. Know your audience. It’s about what you deliver for the business.
Put training on your manager’s radar
He or she might be under the impression everything is good. It’s important to highlight that the landscape is changing and you need to improve your skills.
Make the need for training time sensitive
Let him/her know about the constant technology changes you're experiencing daily in regards to your job. For example, since AWS launched its cloud computing services, it has annually introduced an average of 200 new features and services.2
Establish how this training will drive results the business cares about
- Highlight what you will do after training—your impact.
- You need to do your homework about what matters to the business if it’s something you’re not currently aware of.
- IBM found that skills linked to a business value yield a 10% increase in productivity.3
- By evolving your skillsets, an IT pro like yourself can do more in less time. Global Knowledge students reported saving an average of 3.04 hours per week, or 143 hours per year (based on 47 work weeks).5 The result is an overall increase in productivity.
Anticipate objections and the underlying reasons
Be prepared for objections like:
- “How do you know if this training provider is any good?” Learn the six must-haves of an excellent IT training provider.
- “It costs too much.” Research the course so you can highlight everything that comes with it AND highlight how the course will pay for itself. E.g., you’ll be able to do "X" faster which will save "$X,XXX" over a period of time.
- “We don’t have the budget.” Your job is to show how much not doing anything will cost them and the business more.
- “We need you here, working.” First, see the response to “We don’t have the budget.” Second, a classroom isn't your only option. There are numerous ways aka"delivery formats" to choose from: Instructor-led in-person classroom, instructor-led virtual / online, on-demand, and private group training (where the trainer comes to you). So you don't even have to leave the office.
- “If you need training or don’t have the skills, maybe this job isn’t for you.” This is a tough one to reply to and maybe this organization doesn’t deserve you. If you continue to pursue your training request, here are some questions an Inc. article suggests you can ask to help paint a picture:4
- Would you rather have an employee who:
- Does their job without understanding the big picture, or one who sees how their individual efforts contribute to as a whole?
- Never ventures outside their department, or one who spends time shadowing other areas to gain insight they can use?
- Has always done something a certain way, or one who's interested in improving processes?
- Would you rather have an employee who:
Reinforce loyalty to the team and business
State and/or reconfirm your commitment to the organization. Reduce fears that you’re not just taking training and leaving. You want to continue to grow your career with them. If you don’t feel this way, don’t lie. It’ll come back to bite you eventually. Karma takes no prisoners.
Highlight the caliber and credentials of the training organization
Quality training companies are authorized by technology providers to deliver training specific to their technologies and teach from the latest course content.
At Global Knowledge, you’re learning from the best. Our subject matter experts have an average of:
- 27 years of IT experience
- 19 years of teaching experience
- 16 years of consulting experience
On top of that, 70% of our instructors are active consultants who supplement course content with the latest best practices and real-world scenarios.5
What’s your post-training plan?
- Become a higher producing and productive employee (aka better at your job).
- Become a resource and trainer for co-workers.
- Lead a “Lunch n’ Learn” training session once you’ve had some time using your new skills.
- Contribute new ideas and perspectives learned from the course when the team is discussing future plans or tackling issues.
- The top three IT training benefits students report:
- 94% improved quality of work
- 84% more engagement
- 80% faster job performance.5
- Guess what—93% of GK students apply learned skills to job-related tasks in four weeks or less.5
Ready to convince your manager to let you train? Check out our template to help request training.
For managers requesting training for your team
Follow the same steps we’ve outlined, but since you’re a manager, there’s additional work. Your job is to deliver on what’s asked of you and your team. Managers are positioned to be more strategic in thinking and planning, and less tactical. But it doesn’t always work that way.
An increase in questions and errors
If you’ve noticed an increase in the number of questions you’re being asked and the frequency of errors seems out of the norm, there’s something going on. There’s no debate that this is a manager’s job to address, but when it’s not a competence or capability limitation of your team, there’s a skill gap. If you need to get granular in what it's costing, track the number and type of questions you’re being asked, how long they’re taking to answer and then tie it to your and your team member’s salaries. Literally, assign a dollar value to it. Once you’ve identified the cause and can determine it’s a training issue, build and state your case. The more knowledgeable and capable your team is, the more empowered they are going to be to get things done, resulting in you being more strategic and focused on your larger duties.
Dollar value of IT certifications
For 2018, 54% of IT decision-makers say the estimated annual economic benefit certified employees bring to the organization is over $10,000.1
Share your team vision
- Team can do more (faster, more productive, less mistakes, etc.).
- Viewed as a leading and proactive team.
- What environment are you trying to build for your team
- Strong leaders and managers surround themselves with the best people possible.
- Don’t want a team that “just Googles it.” There's a lot of wrong information on the internet.
- Learn from credentialed and experienced professionals.
A well-trained team delivers on business milestones
Research organization IDC published a report that surveyed over 1,000 IT leaders worldwide focused on cloud migrations and what they found around the skills impact was eye-opening.
- Well-trained cloud migration teams meet nearly 90% of their business and project milestones compared with less than 50% of milestones met by cloud migration teams at only "average" skill level.6
- Four-fifths, or 80%, of the organizations with sufficient skills to deploy automation and orchestration tools prior to beginning the migration report being satisfied or very satisfied with the business impact of the move to cloud. Only 20% of the organizations without sufficient skills report being satisfied with the impact of cloud.6
- Nearly all (90%) of the organizations with well-trained teams are satisfied or very satisfied with their ability to monitor, forecast, and optimize server, storage, and network resources. Less than 10% of the organizations with insufficient skills report being satisfied with their ability to optimize resources dynamically.6
Another IDC study, which was highlighted in IBM's "The Value of Training" report, found that outperforming organizations train their people and found positive project success rates.
Our own survey identified the top five training benefits for teams and organizations are:
- 86% increased customer satisfaction
- 84% improved employee productivity
- 84% increased employee engagement
- Reduced errors
- Lowered costs5
What are the costs and negative effects of not training your people—especially in technology
If you’ve heard, “We’ll just hire ourselves out of this situation,” you’re not alone. A perspective like this that treats employees as purchasable (and expendable) resources is near-sighted. Here’s why:
- 40% of IT decision-makers say the reason behind a skills gap is because “It’s difficult to attract candidates with the skills we need to our industry,” which is up from 36% in 2017.1
- 31% of IT decision-makers state they can’t pay what candidates demand.1
Let’s not forget the on-going “fear” about employees leaving after receiving training. Tim Williams, a business and pricing strategist, says "One of the frequent arguments against investing in professional development is 'What happens if I train my people and they leave?' A better question is 'What happens if you don’t train them and they stay?” His thoughts about why worrying about employees training and leaving is the least of your worries makes you think about reevaluating your perspective.
Employees don’t bail after training—training increases company loyalty
When you’re treated well, it’s harder to want to leave your job.
- 57% of Global Knowledge students who oversee teams indicated that training increased employee retention.5
- 94% indicated that the quality of work improved at this existing job.5
- New employees are 42% more likely to stay when receiving training they need to do their job properly.3
We need to start calling out how often “training and bailing” is an excuse used to hide other issues within the organization. In one tweet, Sir Richard Branson calls out organizations who default to this excuse.
Employees want to feel valued. But how they feel valued is ever-changing. The big paycheck isn’t the dominant incentive it once was. With the growing millennial presence in the workforce, “younger folks are motivated by growth, career opportunity, and meaning.”7
Prevent the learning curve plateau
When a person feels they’ve plateaued, they begin to look for their next challenge. Keep their next challenge within your organization because you’ll both be better for it.
This Harvard Business Review podcast titled "Use Learning to Engage Your Team" interviewed Whitney Johnson, an executive coach who discusses how continuous learning keeps people motivated, why you need to be cognizant that people on your team are at different points in their learning curves and what to do about it. "When managers understand that, and understand where the people they manage are on their individual learning curve — the low end, the sweet spot, or the high end — employees are engaged, productive, and innovative."
Idle minds are leaking…stop the “knowledge leak”
According to IBM’s “The Value of Training,” most research on retention suggests “nearly a 30% loss of skill annually for skills that are not routinely reinforced, though significantly less when skills are routinely (and correctly) performed. The starting skill of an organization can range anywhere from nearly 100% after extensive organizational training to as little as 50% or 60% after several years of little investment in training and normal turnover in the IT environment.” Our own research shows that 80.2% of IT decision-makers and staff cite “Build new skills” as their number one reason for taking training. This is up 5.2% from 2017.1
How likely is an unsatisfied employee looking for a new job compared to a satisfied employee?
Our global IT skills and salary report found that: Almost 69% of “not satisfied” employees are very likely to pursue a new position. Over 30% of “somewhat satisfied” are very likely to pursue a new position. And just under 14% of “satisfied” employees are very likely to pursue a new position.
A CNBC and Qualtrics survey asked the question to 1,500 millennials, “What’s the number one thing you want in a new job and boss?” The answer? To be sufficiently trained.
Cost of Training vs. Cost of Replacing an Employee
Taking a look at some of the direct and indirect costs of training compared to not training, and subsequently losing people when they feel they’ve plateaued, will have you shaking your head.
Cost of Training
- Cost of course
- Time out of work
- Co-workers covering person’s job (if necessary) while out
- Travel / food (if applicable)
Cost of Not Training
- Employee doesn't feel the company is invested in them
- No one is proactively learning better ways of working
- “Google it” becomes the answer, but it’s way easier to find incorrect information or not authorized on the web today. What happens if you don't have an internet connection—it happens.
- The organization misses out on new approaches to existing and/or not prepared to handle future problems more efficiently
Cost of Replacing an Employee
- Loss of organizational tribal knowledge
- Managers and team members are stretched thin covering the employee’s workload
- Morale decline
- HR exit interviews and payroll work
- Writing and/or updating the job description
- Posting the job listing
- Hiring a new employee (average time is 28.1 days)8
- Interviewing candidates
- Negotiating salary, benefits, start date, etc.
- 47% of candidates decline a job offer because they accepted another9
- You can’t pay what they want
- 90% of the market is candidate driven9
- On-board employee (takes 1-2 years to fully acclimate)
- Requires resources from:
- Direct manager
- Direct team
These are just some of the costs and resources dragged into managing an open position and the resources required to invest in new employees.
Conclusion: Replacing employees, compared to training, is expensive in more ways than one.
Believe in the potential of your existing talent. Give them the chance to succeed.
How much does replacing an employee cost? It starts at 21% of their salary.
The Center for American Progress calculated the costs to replace employees that leave. In its “There are Significant Business Costs to Replacing Employees” report, it costs roughly 21% of a worker’s salary to replace them.
Using this research, if the average non-manager IT staff salary is $55,275, it’s going to cost over $11,500 to replace them. The average IT manager salary is $107,483, so it would cost roughly $22,500 to replace. That makes an investment in training a cost-saver.
A report by the Society for Human Resource Management via Peoplekeep.com predicts that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs six to nine months’ salary on average.10
But analysis by Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte, a research and advisory firm focused on management, leadership and human resources, came out swinging in his article calling attention to why employee retention is a bigger issue than ever. He draws on multiple studies and makes the statement that the total cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5-2X annual salary.7 He also addresses the longer-term effects of employee value. His chart below shows the economic value of employees over time.
In closing, don’t lose sight of why training matters. People are first in "People. Process. Technology."
To quote the renowned engineer, statistician and management consultant W. Edwards Deming, “If you don't understand how to run an efficient operation, new machinery will just give you new problems of operation and maintenance. The sure way to increase productivity is to better administrate man and machine.”
Technology is only as powerful as the people trained to use it. And that’s why we want to help develop you and your team into technology powerhouses.
Sources and additional resources to help convince your manager training helps the organization:
- 2018 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report (Release in June 2018)
- Architecting on AWS
- The Value of Training – IBM Training building skills for a smarter planet
- Why Your Training Methods Aren't Working (Even If You Think They Are)
- How Workplace Training Drives Success White Paper
- IDC Cloud-Based Enterprise Application Performance Survey
- Employee Retention Now a Big Issue: Why the Tide has Turned
- 2017 50 HR and Recruiting Stats - Glassdoor
- 2016 50 HR and Recruiting Stats - Glassdoor
- Employee Recruiting and Retention Stats for 2017
- What Millennials Want Most of All When They Start a New Job
- Employee Retention – The Real Cost of Losing an Employee
- 2017 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report
- Employee Retention: The True Cost of Losing Your Best Talent
- How to Address IT Skills Gaps
- How to Understand the ROI of Investing in People