When a turtle becomes frightened, its head and four legs immediately retract into its shell until the danger passes. Once it perceives the threat is gone, its head will slowly emerge, followed by the legs, and then off it goes. This may take some time, but a little coaxing with food may get it going again.
In a sense, with what everyone has been through with the pandemic, the same phenomenon is occurring with people. We’ve withdrawn from many activities that we would have jumped at in the past, one of those being opportunities for training. Working remotely has made it harder for us to get out of our comfort zone (what could be more comfortable than working from home?) and our professional education could be lagging behind.
In most parts of the globe, the imminent threat of COVID has passed and it’s time to leave our comfort zone for the training zone again. Don’t worry, the process can be gradual, like the turtle’s reemergence, but it’s something you’ll want to start doing sooner rather than later.
Why Is It So Hard to Take Training?
First, why is it so much easier to put training off? Consider the following reasons:
- It Takes Time - Many professionals state that training eats up too much time. Work weeks are overbooked. Family and other responsibilities consume the little bit of time left in the week. Who can afford to spend a half day, let alone days or weeks on training?
- It’s Uncomfortable - The very nature of training is admitting that you don’t know everything or that you could be better at something, even though you have been doing it for some time. The humility and awareness required to admit this is significant. Then, there are the logistical challenges of training. Going to a new place with new people in a new situation are all reasons why many will dismiss new opportunities. It’s just more comfortable to keep doing what we’re doing, in the same way we’ve always done it.
- It Breaks Our Routine - Most of us are creatures of habit. We like going to bed and getting up at the same time, following our same morning routine, working with the same people, and doing the same thing. Taking training throws that routine out the window for days or weeks at a time.
If you have plenty of time, don’t mind being uncomfortable, and aren’t married to a routine, then you shouldn’t have a problem with training. But, most people aren’t in that situation. The following suggestions will help the transition back into the training game.
7 Ways to Ease Back into Training
Training comes in many shapes and sizes, ranging from free and fast to expensive and heavy on time. The following ideas are numbered, beginning with lowest in terms of investment of time and money, to highest.
- Podcasts and Audiobooks - There are fantastic podcasts, audio books, and other courses that can be listened to when you commute into the office, exercise, or even just relax. We recommend starting with The PMO Squad’s Office Hours and The PMO Leaders Great Practices podcasts. Free.
- Corporate Training - It may take some digging, but you may be surprised at what your company offers in the way of training. Contact your equivalent of the Learning and Development department and see what they can provide. Generally free.
- Annual Subscriptions - Very affordable subscription-based training companies such as O’Reilly and PluralSight and community sites such as The PMO Leader offer a wealth of training resources. Books, videos, webinars, and lectures are all included. Content is regularly updated and it centers around the newest in technologies and methodologies. Low cost.
- Live Virtual Webinars - Learning from home or the office while interacting with a live instructor and other people is the best of both worlds. One of the good things to come out of the pandemic is that many companies figured out how to make virtual courses not only interesting but also engaging. Medium Cost.
- In-Person Group Training - Go back to the old school way training used to be done prior to 2020. Get a bunch of people together from different companies and backgrounds in a hotel conference center or training facility and spend a couple of days going over new material. Not to be overlooked in this type of training are the great networking opportunities that occur. Higher cost.
- Coaching/Mentoring - Coaching and mentoring sessions are custom made for you. When you are looking to develop a new skill, change a mindset, or need a pathway to excel in your career, you hire a coach or mentor for assessment, guidance and direction. Not sure of the difference? Read Elevate Your Project Manager Game for a helpful table. Coaches have moderate cost and mentors may be free.
- Certification Programs - This is specific and focused training that takes weeks and months to complete but qualifies you to use post-nominal credentials. Those designations (CAPM, PMP, PgMP, etc.) indicate a deep understanding of a particular discipline, methodology, or process. Expensive.
Develop your training plan utilizing some or all the suggestions above, and you’ll start easing back into the training world.
Help Your Team Come out of Their Shells Too
Members of your team could be struggling with the same problems of time and are reluctant to leave their comfort zones or routines. They may need a bit of coaxing from you to get out of their shell and start moving again. Try these four suggestions to help them:
- Review the List - Go over the list above and come up with a training plan for the upcoming year. Find out what your employees’ goals are and couple them with the goals of the company.
- Be Prescriptive - If left to their own devices, many people struggle with what they need to improve. They may not be sure of the best provider, courses or even format. Start with a crystal clear path for them to follow.
- Include Training in Goals - Set quarterly goals that require training milestones to be met. There’s truth to the adage, “that which gets measured gets managed.”
- Make Time and/or Pay for the Training - Provide coverage for your teammates while they are in training, and have the company pay for it if possible. It’s frustrating to think you’re going to be able to focus on training for a couple of days, but the calls and texts don’t stop coming from you and other team members.
You may even be able to coax them out of their shells with a bit of food by hosting (and paying for) Lunch n’ Learns!
But, My Company Won’t Pay for Training
Most companies will pay for and encourage training, but some won’t. Does that mean you stay in your shell and never come out? Of course not. Who paid for your training / education prior to getting this job? You probably did. You invested the time and money in yourself to learn what you needed to get into this profession. Keep investing in yourself, even if it’s just an annual training subscription. It will pay for itself in no time as you continue your search for a company that will pay for training.
When it comes to training, slow and steady wins the race. Invest in training today for you and your team members and reap big dividends in the future!
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