Training: Close the gap between current and required skills

Close the gap between current and required skills By Brandon Battles Experienced managers cope with many of the same problems that new managers do. Obtaining the necessary skills to become an effective manager is an ongoing process that never...

Complete continuing education
My accounting profession demands this type of training. It allows me to explore subjects that I was or am not familiar with that are applicable to our company. Courses have included budgeting, software training, corporation taxation, and Internet software training. Continuing education may not be applicable to your current position, but when given the opportunity take it.

Attend seminars
Rather than risk offending any of the industry's associations by not mentioning them by name, let's just say that the associations I am most familiar with offer excellent seminars on a variety of subjects.
Seminars of interest can also occur outside of our industry. For example, our company is wrestling with the subject of employee benefits. Rather than have a knee jerk reaction, we decided to learn as much about the subject in general so we would make an informed decision. A one-day seminar did not answer all of our questions, but it did answer many of them and pointed us in the right direction. Additionally it kept our time commitment to a minimum while allowing us to focus on our company's primary objectives.
One of the best seminars I ever attended did not seem to have a direct benefit to my job. Sponsored by a trade association for its committee chairmen, the seminar focused on how people receive, process, and communicate information differently. I use what I learned from that seminar every day as I work with people both within our company and those in the industry.

Attend trade show forums
If you're lucky enough to attend trade shows, the exhibit hall is not the only source of information. Normally seminars are taking place at the same time. For a small investment of time, you can gain a great deal of information. And if you review the schedules carefully enough, you will notice interesting subjects that cover more than just technical issues.

Visit other organizations
Visit organizations in and out of aviation. Chances are you are not the first person that has encountered your problems. Networking is extremely important. Learn how your peers have handled certain situations and issues. Because you work in the industry it may be difficult to get the chance to visit a competitor and for good reason, but you may have the opportunity to visit operators that are peripheral to our industry or are completely different.
Visiting maintenance facilities has been one of the greatest sources of knowledge as it relates to my career.

Visit other managers
The courses that I teach are a great networking forum for managers. While course content is important, the interaction between attendees is just as important. Maintenance managers gain a great deal from visiting with their peers. If you can't visit you can certainly pick up the phone and talk about various issues.

Food for thought
Use these ideas as they are intended, as food for thought as you consider your next training session. Remember this about training: It can come in a variety of formats and it should occur frequently. It is applicable to the new manager as well as the experienced one. It is necessary because it helps you help your organization cope with an ever-changing environment and to apply its limited resources efficiently and effectively. Enjoy that next opportunity; you will probably learn something interesting!

Brandon Battles is a partner with Conklin & de Decker. He has spent more than 15 years in aviation working with maintenance organizations in areas of cost collection and analysis, systems review, inventory analysis, and management training.

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