Remember training budgets?
by Darren Caveney
If you don't they worked like this...
Your team had a budget for training, or your HR colleagues did.
During your annual appraisal you would raise your training needs with your line manager and, very often, go on to attend one (or more) £400 or £500 per day training courses.
I do. And I did.
I attended some brilliant ones (my favourite being a creative thinking day) and some really duff ones.
I remember with particular pain - a four-day project management course. I mean, how many hours do you want to spend talking gantt charts and prince 2?
My head was spinning at the end of it. Heaven knows what it cost but I didn't subsequently use any of it in my day job, and I don't believe my project management ever suffered as a result.
The truth is that we maybe weren't as careful with those budgets then as we certainly are now.
The world of training and development has changed
Most teams and organisations I work with either have a small pot for skills and development or no pot at all. Some of them even sold the pot.
But that doesn't mean that we can't carry on learning and developing.
And this absolutely must not be an excuse or barrier to our learning. These are our careers and we all need to take charge of them and manage them because chances are no one else will do this for us.
Learning takes many forms…
I was talking to a HR professional last week who kick-starts most working days by watching a short Ted Talk. How brilliant is that?
Spending some time with people who you respect in the industry is a very productive and easy way of developing knowledge and skills. I decided to do this back in the day, when I felt like I had been locked in my building for about two years. I hit the road and visited people and teams from Norfolk to Newcastle. It was brilliant, inspiring and incredibly helpful to benchmark against others.
It also contributed to my thoughts about creating the learning platform comms2point0.co.uk. A place to share the learning (which, by the way, now has well over 1k posts and case studies for you to mooch through)
None of us knows everything...
But if you look hard enough and ask nicely someone somewhere will help you.
Ask the @comms2point0 Twitter community a question – or ask me to ask – and you’ll be amazed how helpful people are.
Or get some peer support, advice, and hands-on sharing from a group like the Comms Leads group I run on Slack. The help people are giving to one another here fills my heart with joy (contact me if you would like an invitation)
Ask a great creative agency if you can shadow them for a day. You’ll learn tonnes I promise you.
Reach out to a private sector marketing team and see if you can visit them to learn about how they work and how they plan and deliver their comms and pr.
Many organisations, such as Granicus and SocialSignIn fun free webinars to help fill our knowledge gaps. A short, focussed 20 minutes at lunchtime can boost learning simply and quickly.
Maybe work experience or a secondment is an option for you?
Or check out volunteering to gain experience in an area you think is holding you back, recommends Phil Jewitt.
Has your learning journey hit the buffers?
You’re not alone, that’s for sure.
It's one of the reason why, through comms2point0, I am committed to still delivering £free learning opportunities for our community and industry.
For example, I am very proud of the UnAwards Winners Masterclasses created off the back of the annual UnAwards. I'm a tad biased, of course, but I think they are the best free learning events for comms, pr and marketing people around. The chance to see first-hand award winning work, warts and all, and ask the killer questions of those who delivered it is something you’ll be charged handsomely for elsewhere. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but most people I speak with can no longer pay for this type of learning.
This year almost 200 colleagues from across the sectors are attending these masterclasses. (This can only happen through working with great partners and sponsors, by the way, and I am truly grateful of their support)
But it doesn't have to end there...
What skills and knowledge are you keen to gain and what type of events - and locations - would you like to see being offered? If there is enough consensus I will try to make them happen.
So shout if you have ideas for topics, venues and sponsorship and I'll add them to the to do list.
But don't ever feel like you can't learn because your training budget disappeared 5 years ago. It mustn't be a barrier.
We get one shot at a fulfilling career so let's not let budget cuts hold them back.
Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and owner of creative communicators ltd
image via Adrian Tombu