I’ve been a trainer in corporate workflow software for 13 of my nearly 15 years at Halliburton. It’s been tough and rewarding, but I thank God that He has placed me in my position.
My customers, people who use the software that the IT department writes, face an interesting dilemma when it comes to learning the latest and greatest. Sometimes trial-and-error by people familiar with the current version is unacceptable when learning the new version. Trainers must be employed, but the dilemma is when?
Markets have cycles of good and bad times, therefore businesses have cycles of good and bad times. John Maynard Keynes knew this and even tried to stop it, but all that did was push debt on to future generations. Our company has good times, generally right after the price of oil and gas come up, and poor times, such as when oil was $9/bbl in 1999. The size of our company expands and contracts with the amount of work that people want to do at a certain oil price.
When times are bad and revenues are down, nobody wants to pay for training. Companies are in a bare-bones survival mode, weathering the storm until things come back up again. Understandable.When times are awesome, nobody wants to pull people from the field. Catch the next job, make the money before the end of the cycle hits. I don’t blame them. It’s perfectly justifiable behavior, until you give back money to the customer because you performed poorly. Guess we needed that training, after all.
Training between the market peaks and valleys would seem logical, but nobody has the crystal ball to time those correctly. After a market peak, companies are flush with cash and will upgrade equipment and train personnel in anticipation of an even higher market, only to not need them when the market dries up. After a market valley, companies are hiring people who need to be trained, but cash is low.
The training budget for the manager is a seductive golden goose. It’s easy to kill, but the golden eggs it produces: higher service quality, better documentation that you did your job right, better forecasting so you can beat your competitor into the market, more than pay for the trainer.
A bad job on a well can cost millions. That pays for at least a couple of me, even in bad times. Training all the time is a good thing.