As companies continue to scrutinize their budget, funding for IT talent programs such as training is usually the first thing to go and the last thing to come back. The paradox is that training is a top priority for many of your staff members, or at least one of the top priorities. So, how can you build a training program for your staff that is both economical and appreciated? First, you have to standardize your job descriptions so that you have a foundation to build the training program.
STANDARDIZE JOB DESCRIPTIONS Before you can even think about building a training program, you need to consider standardizing job descriptions within technology functions, such as infrastructure, development, and business analysis. For the
purposes of this blog, let’s distinguish a “job” description as being generic in a sense that many employees can hold the same type of job.
However, the term “position” is considered to be unique and only one person can hold a specific position in the company. Soft Skills You will find that many soft skills are shared across the functions (e.g., drive for results, dealing with conflict), so add these requirements across each job description. The more senior the role, the more progressive the language around the requirements: participate, actively participate, lead, etc.
After you have standardized the soft skills, determine which functional skills are required for each job role with each function. These functional skills are typically specific to each area, but there is usually some overlap. What is important is that everyone in a function (e.g., business analysis) shares the same basic job requirements. For instance, a business systems analyst in the IT sales area should have the basic requirements as a similar role in IT purchasing area (e.g., relationship management, requirement gathering, testing, project
Don’t Get Geeky A best practice when developing standardized job descriptions is that they should be technically agnostic. Meaning, the descriptions should be free of any reference to a specific technology, such as SAP, Citrix, Java, etc. Remember, these are “job” descriptions, not “position” descriptions. I suggest you have a separate document, or appendix, that clearly describes each “position” in your department.
Position descriptions as more specific and are often used in the postings for the positions when recruiting for a position.
Qualifications and Other Elements
Of course, you will need to consider the obligatory references to experience and education. Job descriptions also contain information on working conditions, travel requirements, and other elements that are important to your organization.
Side by Side Comparisons
Employees like to understand not only what is required of them in their current role, but what is expected of them in the next rung on the proverbial ladder. For that reason, a good practice is to build a job matrix that clearly lays out each job across the page and the requirements (e.g., soft skills, functional skills, etc.) down the page.
Once you spell out the requirements for each job in the matrix, employees will clearly understand the career path and what it takes to maximize their contributions in their current role, and the skills they need to develop to get promoted.
BUILD A TRAINING CURRICULUM Once you have standardized your job descriptions across the department, it’s time to develop a comprehensive training curriculum. Stay tuned for my next blog where I will describe the best practices for developing and implementing an inexpensive, but comprehensive training program for your staff.