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Allen White

Personnel Development (aka Training)

This is probably not the best time to discuss personnel development, given the current economic conditions, but then again, maybe it is.

How much does your company budget for training?

I was very fortunate when I was with Advanstar Communications for the last five years because my boss, Rich McCourt, believed strongly in training, both technical and soft skills. It was largely because of that that I got involved in PASS, my local SQL Server users group, blogging here, etc. Each year we were all expected to take two weeks of training, and some times I even had more than that.

Having, and using, a training budget accomplishes at least two things for employees - it gives them technical (or non-technical, in the case of soft skills) knowledge that they can use to make the systems they work on better, or improve their relationship with their user communities. It also tells them that they are valued employees and that their personal improvement is as much a priority to the company as the bottom line is. This value generally is returned back to the company at a far higher return than the cost of the training given.

Many companies send their people to classes just when they need to take on a new technology and come up to speed quickly. This is good, but sending people to classes when things aren't changing can help them get a broader perspective on the technology and maybe introduce some new ideas to make the technology work better.

There are a lot of sources for training, as many companies offer classes on specific technologies, some from Microsoft Learning and many others developed by experts in-house. Local colleges offer a wide array of courses that cover specific technical areas.

What I found most value in was technical conferences, like Tech Ed, and most appropriately, PASS. The wide variety of subjects covered, combined with the opportunity to network with others who did the same kind of work I did (since I was the only SQL Server DBA in my shop) proved invaluable.

Budgets are tight, that's a given, but investing a small amount in training can reap benefits significantly greater than the cost of that training.


Published Thursday, October 23, 2008 10:49 AM by AllenMWhite
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jerryhung said:

Sometimes even a simple book budget will go a long way

I have attended $1500 Microsoft trainings that I realized I already learned 80% of it from the books (from Microsoft Press)

Beyond the books, next step is the Certification

MCTS, then MCITP:SQL 70-431/432 and etc...

October 23, 2008 10:24 AM

AllenMWhite said:

Jerry, while it's true you can learn most of the material from books, what you don't get is the opportunity to meet other people who are trying to solve (or have solved) the same problems you have.  Be it a class or a conference, having other people to bounce ideas off of is your best source for learning and growing.

October 23, 2008 11:09 AM

a.m. said:

Everyone has their own way of learning.  Some people react better to classroom training, others to books, still others to "on the job training" (i.e., real life situations that force you to learn).  Personally I like books and real life; I tend to zone out when I'm sitting in a classroom for more than a couple of hours.

October 23, 2008 11:10 AM

jerryhung said:

True true, I have zoned out a few times in my 3 day training

I am a social bug though, but if I don't get a chance to go to conferences, it's hard to meet hot chicks (any out there??) :P

Now my wish is for the company to send me to even just Toronto conferences...

October 23, 2008 3:54 PM
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About AllenMWhite

Allen White is a consultant and mentor for Upsearch Technology Services in Northeast Ohio. He has worked as a Database Administrator, Architect and Developer for over 30 years, supporting both the Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server platforms over that period.

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