How important is it to ensure that your skills are up to date? Assuming that you received your certification or degree several years ago, has the technology you are supporting changed? Are the teams you are managing still using the same tools and resources they used to in the past?
The one thing that is constant in this world of ours is that change is inevitable and universal. This very much means that what you knew last week and last year is now obsolete. Just as it is important to ensure that your team is appropriately trained to support your customers and products, it is also essential that you are trained on the latest and greatest.
Think about it like this – in school a syllabus would change from year to year. Regardless of the subject being taught, neearch and knowledge constantly advanced and grew and what the next batch of students were taught differed in a lesser or greater degree. Now, it was fine in school as you were with your peers and everyone was being tested against the same standard – however in the real world, this just doesn’t work. Your peers are also your competition and whether they are inside your company or part of another company it is crucial that you maintain a current and relevant base of knowledge with regards to your companies products and services and how to best support them. There is a constant need to get yourself trained and to upgrade your skills irrespective of your position in the company.
What most employees tend to forget is that while Senior Management are key instruments in providing direction and support to the entire company, they have not forgotten the importance of ongoing training and learning and this lesson needs to be realized at the middle Management level also. The transition from an average Manager to a top tier Manager is gradual, but knowing the latest trends and information definitely play a factor in this. This is obviously NOT just a matter of being able to spout the latest and greatest “buzz word” that is currently in vogue. The only way to truly advance is to actually understand what you are talking about and to believe in its value and potential. Being ISO certified is easy – understanding that ISO is NOT just paper-pushing which is the common misconception is something else altogether.
Someone just starting out on the Management track however needs to focus on soft skills. Things like Team Work, Leadership, Dealing with Change, Time Management are all crucial skills that are useful for the young Manager and also show a demonstrable return for the company. Once this base is in place additional training which is focused on industry and technology trends should be looked at and into with the focus being on advancing the Manager and department that he is responsible for.
As you gradually work your way up the ladder, this training becomes more theoretical in basis, however it will have an increased value to the organization as the scope of your responsibilities continue to increase.
A Manager at any level is well advised to keep abreast of the latest trends and information affecting his industry through the use of technical journals, trade publications, networking and even the Internet as a whole. By speaking to customers and other managers in the industry further training and planning can be determined and while Managers today have less time then yesterday, the training if structured correctly can be useful and relevant and should be able to show an immediate impact to the organization.
It is key to remember to that training cannot be a single event and should be considered a constant – just like change – as that is the only way to stay in the running.