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Training - A Company or a Worker's Responsibility? 709

Posted by Cliff
from the extra-work-for-extra-responsibility dept.
r0wan asks: "I'm currently working as a Microsoft Systems Administrator. Through a series of bungled management decisions, have found myself responsible for a Windows Server 2003 Active Directory network, that I know nothing about (the person who was sent for training was: not the Microsoft point person, as I was; and left the company, soon after the domain upgrade). It doesn't look as though training will be forthcoming, and I've just been moved from the lab, where I was training myself while simultaneously handling the domain. I've got the MCSA/MCSE Training Kit, but recently I've found numerous errors, so many that I was sent a free Press Kit book, for submitting all of the errors I had found. Between management's reluctance to shell out for training, and being moved from the lab, I'm getting the distinct sense that training is something I'm expected to take care of, on my own time. Is this the de-facto standard within IT, and for all jobs within IT? If so, how do you Slashdot readers keep up with your continuing education, while still maintaining a personal life? Is it naive to try to leave my work at work?"
"I'm especially interested in hearing from the Slashdot readers of the female persuasion, as I have a husband, a dog, and a household to keep up with (no kids by choice, but I wouldn't have the time to take care of them, even if I wanted to). I also have the added responsibility of being the primary breadwinner. My free time is valuable in that it allows me to take care of that which I can't during the day (grocery shopping, dog responsibilities, cleaning, etc), and decompress/de-stress in order to prepare for the next day's work. I like tinkering with computers and learning new stuff, but I fear that if I'm expected train myself, outside of work, I may need to consider a different career.

Thanks in advance for the input."
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Training - A Company or a Worker's Responsibility?

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  • by Easy2RememberNick (179395) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:14PM (#14554078)
    I'm lucky if they tell me what day it is.
    • by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:20PM (#14554122)
      Ok, uhm, that's great. We're going to need your stapler, thanks. Didn't you get the memo?
    • by Black Parrot (19622) * on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:22PM (#14554138)
      > I'm lucky if they tell me what day it is.

      Why does a mushroom need to know what day it is?
    • by crovira (10242) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:29AM (#14554510) Homepage
      I just love the way the stars in their eyes fade to be replaced by the circles and bags under where the glow was.

      Congratulations. You're beginning to wake the fuck up.

      Rule 1: Companies need to generate profits. Cash flows from the customers pockets to the stock holders pockets. In order to maximize profits, there must be as little spent on things that are known in accounting circles as expenses.

      There is no rule 2, only legal complience issues.

      Training is an expense. Training is expendable.

      Hell, you are an expense. If you weren't being paid so much, or at all, the stock holders would be delighted.

      Hint: When ever you hear somebody say "Our employees are our greatest asset" they're lying, or they don't understand basic accounting, or they're slavers and illegal after-market organ transplanters.

      If management doesn't seem interested, its because they aren't. All the arguments about it being counter-productive and costing more in the end don't matter.

      See rule 1.
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) <<akaimbatman> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:48AM (#14554615) Homepage Journal
      I'm lucky if they tell me what day it is.

      That's right. Because you're expected to do your job. If you need information, go find it. It doesn't matter how many people you have to push your way past. Find what you need, and act on it. You may annoy several folks along the way (do try to be somewhat cordial about it), but you'll become invaluable simply because you're the one who gets the job done.

      Here's my advice for the submitter:

      1. Make a plan. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Just identify the problem and find the solution that you think will best solve it. If it's training, then make that your plan. If it's simply some reference materials, then make that your plan.

      2. Sit down with your boss when you get a chance and say, "Hey, we've got this hole in our operations. It's a big problem for the company as a whole as we're not able to respond as well as we should be. Here's the plan I'd like to execute."

      3. If you've got a good boss, your plan will actually be increased seven fold just to ensure that it gets done right. If you've got a mediocre boss, you'll get what you asked for. If you've got a REALLY bad boss, you won't get anything other than a "make due". Since you're already "making due", you're not going to lose anything. Plus you have some ammo in case your boss's boss ever happens to question the operations of your department.

      4. ???

      5. Profit!!! (Just to be complete.) ;-)

      I know that coporate life seems like a bottomless pit sometimes. But no one else is going to change it, so you might as well make your own best effort. As long as you make something of an effort not to tick off every higher-up you meet, you should gain at least some leverage. Good luck! :-)
      • by jd (1658)
        Time is money. The more time that is spent looking things up, the more money is being spent, so the more it costs to get whatever it is done. Ergo, the most profitable way to get things done is to have maximum information to hand, because then the least time is used in learning how to be productive, rather than being productive.

        Companies are there to make money. You are there to make a pay check. The pay check is pre-determined by whatever you signed onto, the profit of the company is determined solely by r

  • by DoraLives (622001) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:14PM (#14554082)
    rely on seeing the rest the smelly thing in there with you sooner instead of later. Resist ALL attempts to cause you to spend your OWN time and money on things that benefit your bosses and/or the owners of the company instead of yourself.
    • But does it benefit the company more, or does it benefit the employee more? If she gets training, she'll be better able to demand a higher salary from the company he's working for now, or a higher salary in his next job.

      I also think it should be the company's responsibility (in general, and in this case) to provide work-related training. However, I don't agree with your assertion that it only benefits the company involved.
      • But does it benefit the company more, or does it benefit the employee more? If she gets training, she'll be better able to demand a higher salary from the company he's working for now, or a higher salary in his next job.

        while this may be true, keep in mind that not everyone is interested in simply positioning themselves for that next promotion or job. Some people, like the submitter, actually place a higher value on thier personal time than anything the company can offer, besides leaving them alone duri

      • Got halfway through correcting it and got distracted. My bad :)
      • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:28PM (#14554187)
        But does it benefit the company more, or does it benefit the employee more? If she gets training, she'll be better able to demand a higher salary from the company he's working for now, or a higher salary in his next job.

        In this case, neither, but it benefits the employee the least. The company is being shortsighted by forcing an (admittedly) underqualified employee to manage something beyond training. They're also forcing said employee to "train" during free time from manuals and such instead of investing in real training.

        It would be fair for the company to send the employee to real training, which would benefit both. If the company's not willing to invest in the employee, they shouldn't expect the employee to give up a ton of free time.

      • by NitsujTPU (19263) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:39PM (#14554251)
        It's not that I don't agree with the sentiment, but the company sent someone off to training who later returned the favor by jumping ship.

        I've seen some training bungles in my time... like hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to train software engineers to use a proprietary software library... engineers who weren't even with the company that was doing the development.

        However, if the company felt it important enough to send the one person off to... why not the other?

        On one side, the company probably has a training budget. Did the original poster already have all the training budgeted to her that year? Well, no room to complain. Is the company trying to fleece the original poster? Well, that's a reason to complain.

        Then there are a couple other points to that. If you're getting something out of your job that's more than a paycheck, it doesn't hurt to chip in a bit of personal expense to sharpen your skills. If the company treats you poorly otherwise, and you really don't get much out of your job, they probably at least owe you the training and equipment to do what they ask.
        • It's not that I don't agree with the sentiment, but the company sent someone off to training who later returned the favor by jumping ship.

          Part of any such deal is that you are investing your time and talents into learning this, and you should be worth more to the companylater - which means they should also be paying youmore. It they think that they own you, and that you "owe" them loyalty for being trained, they should have made that clear by signing a contract to that effect before the training. At whi

      • Yes, I think if it clearly benefits the company more, such as supporting a legacy system or learning to support a short lived or highly specialized system, then clearly the company should be picking up the bill for any training. Otherwise, if it isn't really required training, but more of an "enriching" nature or will further the person's career, then it seems reasonable that a company would not want to pay or would want to have the employee pick up a portion of the expense. Most companies have limited ab
    • by loteck (533317) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:23PM (#14554142) Homepage
      And this goes double for IT. Especially if the location you are responsible for is open during hours that you aren't at work. However, the above poster's response isn't always possible.

      Many IT professionals simply end up negotiating higher salaries based on the amount of personal time they are going to be giving up to be on call or to be in constant training. I realize this option isn't attractive to the submitter, but, especially if you're charged with mission-critical support for high availability networks, it seems to be the nature of the beast.

    • by WhyCause (179039) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:38PM (#14554249)
      One thing I would suggest, keeping in line with this, would be to 'spin' it such that it is to the company's great benefit to ensure that you are properly trained. For example, you don't want to spend hours trying to solve a problem that a properly trained domain admin might spend 5 minutes fixing (think of the downtime!). This is the polite way of batting the camel on the nose (as it were) to make it back out of the tent.

      If necessary, keep records of the time you spend on figuring out problems, and present this (in accumulated form) to your manager, insisting that training will reduce this. Present this in paper memo form, making sure to cc: to file (yours, paper, of course), and make certain that your manager's secretary stamps each memo you deliver to him or her with one of those "Received On" stamps (they still use those, right?). If your manager still refuses training, your ass is covered when the shit hits the fan (and it will).

      I've never been in an IT position like this. It doesn't matter, though, because just about every manager with a lean training budget will act the same. Once you prove to your manager that this training is worth the investment, you'll generally get the support you need. On the other hand, you might see (currently) intangible benefits by training yourself. You're a go-getter with initiative. A straight-shooter with upper management written all over you.
      • by klparrot (549422) <klparrot@noSpAm.hotmail.com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:01AM (#14554365)
        If necessary, keep records of the time you spend on figuring out problems, and present this (in accumulated form) to your manager, insisting that training will reduce this.

        You might want to be careful, though, that your manager doesn't just decide that laying you off and hiring someone with the training is cheaper.

        • Unfair Dismissal (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Raedwald (567500)
          You might want to be careful, though, that your manager doesn't just decide that laying you off and hiring someone with the training is cheaper.

          In England, firing someone for being unable to do a job to which they have been moved without training might (IANAL) count as unfair dismissal. You could take your ex-employer to an Employment Tribunal.

      • On the other hand, you might see (currently) intangible benefits by training yourself. You're a go-getter with initiative. A straight-shooter with upper management written all over you.

        Oh god no. If the company isn't willing to shell out for proper training, they are more than willing to take advantage of your hard work. If you need no incentive to work as hard as you can, they will give you no incentive to work as hard as you can.

        Yes, there are companies that don't act this way, but in my experience, they
    • Absolutely. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 0m3gaMan (745008)
      Many companies hire whomever is trained in what the company needs. The problem is that once the company needs a worker who knows X--and you don't--you'll find yourself laid off.

      The company sees it as easier and less expensive to hire workers, burn them out, refuse to pay for new education, and hire those who have paid for their own training.

      Disgusting, but true. The bright side of this phenomenon is that word tends to get around, and after 2-3 years, finds itself tacitly 'blacklisted' among IT workers in th
    • Resist ALL attempts to cause you to spend your OWN time and money on things that benefit your bosses and/or the owners of the company instead of yourself.

      Along these same lines, I only do self-funded training that will benefit my next employer. Invest in yourself, not in your boss.

  • Some advice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aliscool (597862) * on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:15PM (#14554092)
    Hey,

    Get your company to front for some M$ premier support. When something comes up you are not sure of or are having a hell of a time resolving, call in the experts at M$.

    Except for one or two "M$ Alliance partners" I have always had good luck with M$ premier support. And we have had some major fiascos to unscrew over the years.

    And best of all you can consider it free on the job training, don't let the M$ Engineer hang up until you completely understand what was wrong and how to fix it in the future.

    Also, document everything you do! Two years from now you will be fighting the same or similar fires you are fighting today. Have a reference to fall back on and help remember what steps you took before that fixed something.

    Sounds like you are a lone gun, but a 800 Premier support help number and some documentation may help greatly.

    Best of luck with the new responsibilities.
    • Get your company to front for some M$ premier support.

      I dont get the idea from her description that her company is ready to tackle that nut. I think she is better off picking up a book like Minasi's on W2K3 and spending a few late nights getting comfortable with her servers.

  • In a word... (Score:2, Informative)

    by gkuz (706134)
    Is this the de-facto standard within IT, and for all jobs within IT?

    No.

  • Training (Score:5, Informative)

    by flosofl (626809) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:17PM (#14554100) Homepage
    I have eight guys in my specific dept (a section of security). As it stands right now, we are averaging about 10,000 USD per person for training this year. It will probably double before the end.

    Every company I've worked for (small, large, huge) have either paid for or reimbursed employees for relevant training.
  • by lamasquerade (172547) * on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:19PM (#14554112)
    Not at all! Sounds to me like your company is being miserly. Most IT companies, I believe, see the value of continuing education in our field and provide it. At my company, where I have been for two years, I have been on three training courses so far (one of three days, two of a week each). They have been for ITIL [itil.co.uk] foundations, which is required for all employees, even non technical, and two HP Administration courses for products we support and deploy. In all cases I was paid while training as though I was at work, and in two cases I was flown to other cities in Australia, with the expenses taken care of - as is the norm I believe.

    In fact this Sunday I'll be off to Melbourne for another course of a week, the second admin course for HPOV Performance Insight [hp.com]. Without the training I can't imaigine being able to deploy and support this quite complex (and not overly intuitive) product, it would in fact be negligent to have me do so.

    I'd reccommend taking your need for education to your managemnt quite firmly, and if they won't budge look elsewhere - not just because of this particular issue, but because such behaviour is indicative of a lack of management vision IMO. If they can't outlay some cash now to train for the future it doesn't sound like they'll have much of a future to worry about - at least not a very interesting high growth one.

    • by Andr0s (824479) <dunkelzahn@rocketmail.com> on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:23PM (#14554144)
      I cannot say if it's the norm for the industry... but I just saw the loose ends of my department's budget for last year wrapped up, (I'm Remote Site Admin in a sizeable corporation's IT) and I was shocked at how much money was in it for IT staff training, unused. After chatting with some other friends in the industry, I discovered that often companies don't refuse to pay for training... but do expect employees to go through training without dropping any of their tasks. And since so many of IT people work 60+ hour weeks, we can all see how frequently that kind of training is a feasible scenario.
      • by lamasquerade (172547) * on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:30PM (#14554199)
        I hope 20 or so of those hours are paid overtime. I can't stand seeing some of my friends (grad lawyers and engineers) doing unpaid overtime because it's 'standard' in the industry or necessary to 'get ahead'. I'm out of here the second the clock strikes five (actually, usually 5 to 5 to get the good bus:) unless there's a project that needs to be worked on to meet deadline and I've got some pre-approved paid overtime (or some agrreed time off in lieu). Happily this is the norm at my company and it is the first job I had out of Uni, and I know it's harder to quit such a job if the culture in your workplace is all about unpaid overtime, but once you start submitting to that bullshit you can wave bye to your life IMO. If I didn't have a good five hours after work to relax and do other things I think I'd go quite mad...
    • by Pollux (102520) <speter.tedata@net@eg> on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:43PM (#14554270) Journal
      This isn't the norm. Any company who understands that downtime = $$$ down the crapper knows that investing money in human resource training pays for itself down the road.

      You didn't give any detail about how large of a domain is in your hands, and I don't know exactly how much you so far understand or don't understand about Win2K3 administration, but I'll leave that for someone else to post on.

      Following this thread, there are three things that you must do in order to succeed in a precarious position such as this:

      1) Take a crash course in Win2K3 server, because that's what you're responsible for. Someone might want to start up a thread with recommendations about where to begin.

      2) Open up lines of communication between you and the managers. The computer network has become the modern spinal cord of the business workforce, and communication leads to familiarity leads to confidence. In times of storm (i.e. network downtime), your company will have to put their trust in you that they'll make it through.

      3) Explain the situation to your managers in a language they understand: the almighty dollar. Tell them the truth. They threw their money in a garbage bin when they trained the wrong person. Failure to invest in proper training for IT staff leads to increased downtime leads to loss of commerce leads to loss of money. Tell them that they will lose money because their investments (e-commerce) right now are not proected (properly trained personnel). It's all about money.

      And if nobody listens, I would be very cautious. Find another job that will better support you as you become a better admin, rather than be put in one where, when something serious goes down, you get all the blame. Better to be led away from the fire than to lead someone into it.
      • many employers are under the impression that if you can't learn on your or if you can't know everything about anything then you need to fire that person and replace them with someone who is.

        Training today means incompetance to lots of folks in IT who consider us janitors that Indians do for $5k-10k a year. With salaries like that we get no respect and we are viewed as a cost center only.
  • CYA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) * on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:20PM (#14554119)
    I suppose if the company's managers want its infrastructure maintained by amateurs, that's their business. (No pun intended!)

    However, you'll probably get the blame if something goes wrong. You might consider looking for another job.
  • by Jere H (220274) <slashdot@jerem y h i p p . com> on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:20PM (#14554120) Homepage
    I moved from being an Excel junkie to being a network administrator with 5 servers. I had not used Active Directory or Windows Server 2003 before this point, so it was all new to me. My boss knows less than I do, and the people who installed the equipment basically showed us how to set up a new user when it was necessary.
    Nobody told us how to map home folders, shared network drives, printers, set file permissions, or anything else. Everything I know was learned on my own, however, it was all researched on company time.
    They've been pleased with the system so far. It's not too hard to learn.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Wow, your company is on the road to screwsville.

      Without qualified administration you are going to do things that you will regret later on. No offense to you, but I've seen this situation played out a million times. Some person with slightly higher than average computer skills gets elected into an admin role, and makes a royal mess that has to be cleaned up later when your company finally breaks down and hires someone competant.
  • Training (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:20PM (#14554121) Homepage
    At my company, we each get budgeted a certain amount of money (generous) for training. (We also get an allowance for professional organizations.) We also get paid for the time we are off site at traing events.
    We have to get approval before taking a class we want to take, but they are very open to our ideas.
    No matter what anyone says, a great strength of a company is its employees. The more we know, and the better we are, the better the company will do. It also has other benefits, as it makes us all feel better about our employer
  • by douglips (513461) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:21PM (#14554128) Homepage Journal
    In a big company, the company will train you on their time and their dime. In a small company, they may not train you, but they should allow you the time to train yourself and/or learn by doing. Do NOT front any money for technical training like this. Maybe for a Masters degree, but not for some Microsoft certificate.

    You have to choose what kind of company to work for, essentially.

    Having done both, I liked the small company when I was young and had no kids, and now I like the big company.
  • by Council (514577) <rmunroe@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:22PM (#14554141) Homepage
    How do you Slashdot readers keep up with your continuing education, while still maintaining a personal life?

    Your question implies a misunderstanding.
  • In both the Microsoft and Linux world, there will always be new things to learn, however; as you gain more experience and understanding of the core concepts and technologies, the systems and software you work with will become more and more intuitive - thus requiring less time to digest apply.

    It sounds like you have a good opportunity to shine in the position you are in, and I'd stick it out if I were you... Good Luck!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I manage a technical staff of about 35, mostly developers. When hiring I always try and determine what they have taught themselves recently, and within the company it is not hard for me to tell you who pushes themselves to keep their skill sets current. Such people do better in the market place, both when looking for a job, and then advancing once they get a job. End of story. It is a competitive world out there. Regardless of the training your employer gives you, you should make sure to invest regular
  • Check your laws. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by B5_geek (638928) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:26PM (#14554171)
    This may be similar where you live, in Canada if a company requires that you keep your skill-set up-to-date then they are required to provide funding.

    But the easy way out for some companies is to state that it is not a job-requirement.

    3 points I want to make.

    a) get out of there. it sounds like a poison place to work if they pull that kind of shit on you.
    b) When you do go for your training, make sure you do ALL studying, preparing on WORK time, do not bring it home with you.
    c) To answer your question; No it is not part of the IT climate. Like I said; get out of there.

  • I work in a small company supporting many clients, my employer values my abilities & wants me to grow with the company as it expands so they can give me more responsibilities.

    They pay for my training books and my exams and I have worked out with them a number of hours a week where I can have study time, as well as putting in time out of hours too.

    I'm currently completing my MCSE & then aim to move onto CISCO & Citrix.

    Because we specialise in medicine, at the same time I am learing specialist sof
  • Is it naive to try to leave my work at work?

    Yes.
  • It really, really depends. A good employer will try to people with a strong capacity to learn, and good problem solving skills. Once hired the employees generally just pick things up as they go. It's kind of expected at top tech companies that you'll stay on top of your field, and learn everything you can. IF however your job requirements change drastically, a good employer usually sees it as in their best interest you train you (or give you the time to train yourself).

    What you have is really a company with
  • by lanner (107308) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:28PM (#14554183)
    You know the other guy who set up AD and left the company? Perhaps he jumped on the clue train and left for a better place. You might consider doing the same.

    First quarter of the year is a good time to be looking for work, and I know there are jobs out there. I'm looking for one myself. Two of my peers recently quit after finding better jobs. The IT department at the company I work for has awful management, and that's beyond my ability to fix -- you can't fix stupid. Best to just leave and work for someone who you can be productive for, instead of being fed self-induced problem after problem by witless, unsupportive, personnel managers.
  • And you leave work too? You're in the wrong business and you're definitely not a nerd.

  • Most employers believe it is a good investment to train their employees. If you work at one that doesn't agree, you might want to apply for some other jobs. Try to beg them to get you certified before you leave though :). Also, try to get into a company that uses *nix. I think you'll see that most companies that use *nix have more foresight than companies that use Microsoft. That has been my experience at least.
  • I personally believe that it's the individual's responsibility to stay up to date with developments in her area of expertise. However, it is crucial that employees who will be using or managing a system be properly trained in that task *before the system goes live*, and the most reliable means of ensuring that someone is properly trained is to put them through a course on the subject. Judgements about your employer aside, you should be able to make a very strong case for training, as your knowledge of thi

  • You should have never put that you were a woman in a Slashdot article. :)

    If the company is large enough, you may luck out and get all the training you'd need. I've known people who have worked for large companies, and they spent about 25% of the year out at one training or another. As for the rest of us, ya, we train ourselves.

    After years of working with Cisco equipment, I finally talked a boss-type person into paying my way to a Cisco class. Now I have my CCN
  • Training and on-going education are considered part and parcel as part of the job, and where I work, part of the requirements for continued employment. They are provided for, and if job related, paid for by the company.

    The next time something happens, let it sit, and say, gee, wish I'd gotten that training. Or better yet fix it, but take a long time doing it. Then, say it would have taken a lot less time, had I received the training I needed. Find local, or at least close, classes, possibly boot-camp st
  • There are a few factors which have influenced whether or not my employers have sought to provide training.

    1) Contractual obligations -- working for a service provider can lead to training because of contracts requiring a certain level of certification. HP hired me for a services position and trained me to the level required. They hired me because they knew I was good, and attaining the certification wouldn't be a problem.

    2) Managers vs. Bosses mentality -- managers look to enable you to get things done, b
  • You need to consider a different employer.

    Some companies are terrific at sending their people to training. I used to work for one of those (IT outsourcer here). When we met with the end-users, they loved us, because we knew what the heck we were doing, and it showed in our work. Alas, due to a tragedy at the highest level, the company founders decided to dismantle the company and sell out.

    My new employer is significantly more stingy with the training dollars.

    Due to other factors we nearly lost the contract (could lose it still). But - the company has had to shell out a ton of money in an attempt to save the contract, and somewhere the light bulb went on: it isn't worth all this money, if the staff can't out-perform the competition.

    So this year, they have paid for time and tuition for about eight people, where for the previous three years we got zilch. Heck - I got my CCNA, and two of us got their CCNP's. :-)

    With all this training, and the professionalism that comes from knowing you are a subject-matter expert, morale is tremendously improved. And that is reflected in customer satisfaction.

    If your employer won't train you, look for a place that doesn't run the joint like the Keystone Kops.

  • by $ASANY (705279) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:33PM (#14554215) Homepage
    ...and your management shouldn't try to change that. Good management understands that they have to ensure that personnel expected to perform tasks have the experience and/or training to do those tasks. Your off time isn't theirs.

    If they really think you're responsible for getting training in your off time, even if you're doing self-study, then it's time to get a new job. The market is good now, and you don't have to put up with idiots like this -- especially if the PHBs expect you to develop some instant affinity to Active Directory management. Yuck.

  • Oh, sigh. I see the flame war erupting already, since Slashdot is primarily male. But this needs to be said anyway.

    "My free time is valuable in that it allows me to take care of that which I can't during the day (grocery shopping, dog responsibilities, cleaning, etc."

    WHY are you doing all of this grunt work IN ADDITION TO being the primary breadwinner of your household?

    What is your husband doing?

    Now, if your husband is doing 50%+ of the household work (I say plus, since you're the primary income), that's one thing, and I would argue that a housekeeper/cleaning service would save a lot of your sanity. That's a given. I hire a cleaning service to clean my house. I need to keep myself focused on work that benefits my career instead of busywork.

    However, if your husband is not doing at least 50% of the job, that's a whole other can of worms, but one that I'm willing to open because I think it's an important point of discussion.

    I read a great article about this the other day. It's called My Radical Married Feminist Manifesto [blogspot.com], and it's a must-read for most women who are primary breadwinners and who are or plan to be married. It's in response to America's Stay-At-Home Feminists [alternet.org], which is in itself an important article to read.

    One of the most important points of the article is as follows:

    "The home-economics trap involves superior female knowledge and superior female sanitation. The solutions are ignorance and dust. Never figure out where the butter is. "Where's the butter?" Nora Ephron's legendary riff on marriage begins. In it, a man asks the question when looking directly at the butter container in the refrigerator. "Where's the butter?" actually means butter my toast, buy the butter, remember when we're out of butter. Next thing you know you're quitting your job at the law firm because you're so busy managing the butter. If women never start playing the household-manager role, the house will be dirty, but the realities of the physical world will trump the pull of gender ideology. Either the other adult in the family will take a hand or the children will grow up with robust immune systems."

    Sounds like a trap that you might have fallen into, and even if you haven't, it's important to be aware of "the butter question" in case you get into this situation in the future.

    In case you plan on having kids, I also want to quote this stunning piece (from the same article):

    "Bad deals come in two forms: economics and home economics. The economic temptation is to assign the cost of child care to the woman's income. If a woman making $50,000 per year whose husband makes $100,000 decides to have a baby, and the cost of a full-time nanny is $30,000, the couple reason that, after paying 40 percent in taxes, she makes $30,000, just enough to pay the nanny. So she might as well stay home. This totally ignores that both adults are in the enterprise together and the demonstrable future loss of income, power, and security for the woman who quits. Instead, calculate that all parents make a total of $150,000 and take home $90,000. After paying a full-time nanny, they have $60,000 left to live on."

    ...which is so incredibly true that I'm amazed it's even looked at any other way. Remember that if you stay home to take care of the kid, this calculation assumes that your salary would have remained the same indefinitely -- an invalid assumption for a career-oriented woman.

    I sincerely hope you haven't fallen prey to the butter question. However, if you have, now is the time to reassess who does the work in your marriage. Do it like you would any other job -- figure out which parts you can outsource (grocery shopping? You can shop online and get groceries delivered. Cleaning the house? You can hire someone) for very lit

    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:12AM (#14555557) Journal
      "My free time is valuable in that it allows me to take care of that which I can't during the day (grocery shopping, dog responsibilities, cleaning, etc."

      If she said the same to her employer/manager I am not suprised she didn't get training.

      Training is expensive. Not just the training costs themselves but also because it usually removes the person from work.

      Now who would you choose for training? Female A: claims she has a life outside of work, probably going to have a baby anytime now or Male B: Work is his life, can't have babies.

      Gee, that is a thoughie. Oh the baby argument is sexist but I am telling you what it is like in the real world. One woman in a company of thousands pulls the being absent for years trick and every woman in the company and every woman in companies where the male managers know a guy in another company where it happened will be tainted with the brush of being unreliable.

      Common perception is that women see work as something to do until they get kids. You put them in a position where they are critical and they will just disappear for months. True? Sorta, while I never met any "highlevel" females who did this it sure can mess up a company when the "lowlevel" secretary decides that she has had it and is going to take care of her own baby and no a bunch of middle aged babies. Offcourse the fact that this female was underpaid, undervalued is never mentioned. Just maternity leave is risky. Every male knows this. Sorry.

      Then stating also that you value your private life is not a good thing. I am male and even I can't get away with that one. Companies investing thousands of dollars in a person want to be sure they get a willing slave in return. Doesn't matter if that person is going to leave right after completing the training what matters is perception.

      And finally the biggest killer in getting training? Just being to damn valuable. I actually been told I couldn't get trained because they couldn't get me the time off needed from projects. So the guys who were "unemployed" got the the training while the guy who was earning the salaries by being outsourced had to buy his own books. Oh and ended up having to be the teacher to the guys just having received a 20.000 guilder training. Grrrr.

      Whenever an employer starts talking about training your bullshit meter should spring into the red. I have had several "offers" and it never works out. In the rare occasions where it actually reaches a "planned" stage there is always some project that I am suddenly needed on because the guy that was on it and received lots and lots of training can't hack it. Or left for greener pastures with his shiny new diploma.

      Those who can, do. Those who can't get trained and leave the company.

      As for the whole butter trap, can you blame men for trying it? Call us sexist pigs if you want, just also remember to call us master and serve us. Resistance is futile. We are male, you will serve us.

      If you think it is wrong, just realise that no matter how fucked up men are, women are worse. Just examine yourselve (if your female) what you want in a male partner and then check how many of your wishes contradict themselves. Strong, yet caring. Able to express his emotions but not a cry baby. And the biggest one, "he musn't mind me earning more then him" vs "he better earn a good income". No women respects a man with a low paycheck. The only way for a woman to get the man she wants is to have a harem or someone with a split personality.

    • Remember that if you stay home to take care of the kid, this calculation assumes that your salary would have remained the same indefinitely -- an invalid assumption for a career-oriented woman.

      But also remember that when making this decision, economics are far from the only consideration. You and your husband also need to consider whether or not you really want your kids to be raised by a nanny. More realistically, for most people the choice is between a stay-at-home mom or dad and day care, not a full

    • Remind me again why people should get married?
    • In it, a man asks the question when looking directly at the butter container in the refrigerator. "Where's the butter?" actually means butter my toast, buy the butter, remember when we're out of butter.

      Or maybe he just means "I can't find the butter, so I'm going to ask for help even though the heinous war-bitch I accidentally married is going to launch into a diatribe about how I'm trying to oppress her and deny her inner goddess. Please, Lord, just let her help me find the butter without telling me that the patri-fascist corporate hegemony trained me to hate women, and why my mother was a sellout enabler for putting up with my insensitive ass for 18 years."

      I think that's the more likely explanation: Occam's Razor and all that.

  • by ptaff (165113) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:40PM (#14554255) Homepage

    There is experience that will follow you even though technologies change; what I learnt while using DOS is still relevant (creating directories is still something I do); a strong OOP formation in C++ makes Java/C# easier; knowing how pointers work makes a better coder in any language.

    Even if experience is a great mistress, everything changes so quickly that continuous self-education I think is a must. Recall all the hot technologies of 1996 - only 10 years ago, a small fraction of your life in the workforce. Almost nobody wrote Java, C#/.NET didn't exist, most dynamic webpages were written in Perl, CSS wasn't there yet, XML was unborn, there were no "Seamless Open Integrated Solution Providers (!)", etc, etc, etc. Now think 1985. 1975. 1965. Somebody born in 1945 and who worked all his life on computers will retire in 2010.

    Problem with courses is that they always lag a couple of years behind - they still teach table-based HTML tagsoup... and though you may have a 12-hour intensive session on a subject, you won't be ready to use it before you play on your own time with it.

    You don't need to lose your life, I guess spending a couple of hours a week on new technologies is more than enough. You don't have to know everything, just focus on what is created in your field.

  • by jht (5006) on Tuesday January 24, 2006 @11:58PM (#14554357) Homepage Journal
    In a perfect world, you and your employer are both responsible for training. You would need to find out what you needed to learn, show the initiative to plan it, and take the time out of Real Life to attend some classes and do the work necessary to advance your career.

    In return, the employer would reimburse you for your training, and recognize your increased expertise with more money and respect as your skills grew.

    The reality is that this sounds like a far-from ideal employer that also got burned last time they paid for someone's certification and then lost them. So you'd probably have to take most of the initiative to advance your skillset. It's worth it - and you can learn a lot of stuff pretty cheaply just with the combination of a couple of middling boxes with plenty of RAM, VMware, and a subscription to the MS Action Pack along with a few books. For a pretty small investment of time and probably a couple of thousand dollars, you can teach yourself enough to know, at the very least, whether you want to stay on the sysadmin side of the business, and at best you can get a great head start on an MCSE (If you want one). It also makes for a very low-pressure way to learn more off-hours when you want to.

    Ultimately, if you want to stay in the field and you want to stay with this employer you'll have to show them the folly of their training-miserly ways. Picking up some good AD kung-fu is part of the puzzle - and if need be it'll be a good way to brush up for the job interview with your next employer!

    In this business the unfortunate reality is that while you can have a life, it's tough to keep up if you do. I'm lucky now - working for myself I can designate some time for the "keeping up" during the workweek, but when the customers want me they get me, even if I've set up downtime (I do charge a lot more for any off-hours work, and as a result I don't have to deal with things too often outside of the workday at least). So you can have a life - but it helps if you really, really like IT work. In general, though, formal training is something that the employer should provide some time for, but you should be willing to pitch in as well. And the homework and studying is something you're on your own for. It's partly to help in your day-to-day work, but it's also career advancement as well. Both parties gain, so both parties (should) give.

    One relevant example from my old career: when I was an IT manager (prior to my old company getting bought and shrunken - part of why I'm on my own now) I had a staff with three techs. I had the training budget to send them all to class if I wanted, but I would only do so if they were willing to spend some of their personal time in pursuit of the goal as well. Typically I'd allow up to a day out of the office per week over a period of a couple of months during that, pay for everything including materials, and pay for the testing. I wouldn't send folks out for things like a 2-week bootcamp or anything of that sort. Was that the most progressive training policy around? No, but it was a reasonable and fair one, balancing my interests (as manager and company representative) with the interests of my employees. Of six people who worked for me during the five years I was there, only one never took us up on the training offer (the person liked their limited function and wasn't really interested in advancing), one left after a year to transfer back to their old department, and the other four went to classes. Of them, I lost one a month after they got their MCSE - they went to a dot-com for over $25k more than I was paying. Neither that nor the dot-com lasted. Go figure.

  • by Spazmania (174582) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:10AM (#14554421) Homepage
    I can speak to this issue from the other side of the desk.

    1. Yes, you are supposed to teach yourself. When I hire, I look for folks who are always learning, all day, every day. "Training" means I have to pay good money to have you absent from work for a week every couple months so that you can come back and spout off about the way X-Corp says it should be done instead of the way that would actually integrate into the system I spent years building. No thanks!

    If you need a reference book, I'll buy it for you. If you want to take some night courses in computer science so that you can get a better grounding in the fundamentals then I'll help out in whatever way I can. Just don't waste my time or yours with these so-called training courses.

    2. I expect that you'll spend a certain amount of time at work experimenting and gathering knowledge about the software and hardware you use to make my systems run. That's part of the job. You don't have to know everything ahead of time, you just have to know how to figure it out.

    If you were a consultant it would be different. I'll pay a consultant twice what I pay you because I expect him to already have the answers when he hits my door. If HE doesn't know, he won't be invited back and if its bad enough he won't be paid. You, as an employee, have more leeway.

    3. I expect that you'll spend a certain amount of time at home using similar technologies in the pursuit of your own hobbies. I expect that you'll learn things there that you apply to work just as you learn things at work that you'll apply to your hobbies.

    Its not about taking your work home with you; its about getting paid to do work that you enjoy. This work I do was my hobby before it became my career. I enjoy it immensely and I want people around me who feel the same way. If you're just here for the paycheck then I hired the wrong guy. You won't deliver the standard of quality I want because when push comes to shove you just don't care.

    Now, if you're like four out of five people out there then having read this you think I'm full of shit. And that's OK. There are plenty of suck jobs out there that will pay you well enough to drive a nice car and vacation at the beach. I wish you all the best in life and may you find your bliss.

    But if you're the one out of five that finds the job worth working for its own sake then I want you working with me.

    • by kaiser423 (828989) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:52AM (#14554627)
      I agree with every sentiment of your post except for this one:

      Its not about taking your work home with you; its about getting paid to do work that you enjoy. This work I do was my hobby before it became my career. I enjoy it immensely and I want people around me who feel the same way. If you're just here for the paycheck then I hired the wrong guy. You won't deliver the standard of quality I want because when push comes to shove you just don't care.

      I do take my work home because I love it; but I can't say that I'm able to get more than an hour or two of half-assed work done at home before I realize that I'm gonna be burnt out on it the next day.

      The most motivated, intelligent and best employees I've worked with have often been those who punch out exactly on time. They love their work, and they'll work obscene hours if needed. But they know what they like to do, and they know how to do it. Pure business for a 9 hour workday, and then a straight line to the door -- they have other activities in their life that are different, interesting, and keep them from being burnt out! In my book, knowing that is a quality judgement. Knowing where your point of diminishing returns is is crucial to being good at your job.

      I'm not saying that you're wrong. People who do their job as a hobby also are usually great employees, I'm just saying that the people who have the motivation and will-power to stand up to a boss like you and demand a fine line between work and the rest of their lives also usually have great qualities that you want in an employee. They think that the job is "worth working for its own sake," they just have other things that also are -- and let's be honest here, they're working not only to enrich you, but themselves also. You're not selling yourself short here, so why disrespect other people who demand their fair compensation also?

      A company might get built on a one-trick workhorse, but they rarely survive for long on one.
      • Don't get me wrong. Generally speaking, I don't want you to take your work home with you. You'd burn out, just as you say. When quitting time roles around, go home. The work will still be here tomorrow and you'll be freshly rested.

        But if you're one of my sysadmins, I don't want to hear that you have a $9.95 netzero account and a windows 98 box. No one who likes the work could tolerate such a setup. I want to hear that you have DSL with static IPs, 256 meg video cards and a blog. I want to hear that geeked o
        • I want to hear that you have DSL with static IPs, 256 meg video cards and a blog. I want to hear that geeked out with whatever app or game is hot this month.

          Maybe when I was 23. I'm 30 now, and my interests have diversified. I've also noticed that precious little of what's hot this month ever lasts past next month.

  • The only reply... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheAncientHacker (222131) <TheAncientHacker ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:19AM (#14554467)
    The only reasonable reply to bosses who say, "What if I train them and then they leave?" (which they WILL say if pushed for why they don't feel like investing in "their greatest resource") is, "What if you don't train them and they stay?"
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:19AM (#14554468)
    "I'm especially interested in hearing from the Slashdot readers of the female persuasion, as I have a husband, a dog, and a household to keep up with (no kids by choice, but I wouldn't have the time to take care of them, even if I wanted to). I also have the added responsibility of being the primary breadwinner. My free time is valuable in that it allows me to take care of that which I can't during the day (grocery shopping, dog responsibilities, cleaning, etc), and decompress/de-stress in order to prepare for the next day's work. I like tinkering with computers and learning new stuff, but I fear that if I'm expected train myself, outside of work, I may need to consider a different career.

    Thanks in advance for the input."


    Primary bread winner with no kids? Holy crap, does your husband do anything or sit around in his underwear all day.

    2nd Question: Where can I find a geeky girl like you? It be almost as good as getting married to money:D
  • ASK! Don't assume. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by meburke (736645) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:24AM (#14554487)
    You are the administrator. You tell THEM what's required to maintain the system properly. Your training is an essential component of network administration. They promoted you to the position, meaning they didn't go outside to hire someone who already had all the essential skills.

    You obviously didn't sit down with management and get clear about all the responsibilities and outcomes; what's expected on both sides. You need to design a Win-Win solution and get them to buy in for their own benefit. If they pay for it, you should agree to an arrangement that doesn't leave them in the position of throwing money away. If you pay for it, you deserve a big raise and you are under no obligation to stay when another corporation offers you a raise and better benefits. Consider thinking up three alternatives that would satisfy you, and then negotiate the best elements of all of them for a Win-Win solution.

    It may require some research to identify the gap between the skills you have and the skills you have to learn. Do it now, before the situation solidifies.

    Some organizations will willfully ignore your plight, and before you know it you've spent years in the electronic sweatshop. Know what you want. For clarity, you might use the flowchart and worksheet from Robert Mager's, "Anayzing Performance Problems". http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1879618176/102-90 82980-8475324?v=glance&n=283155 [amazon.com]

    There is a modified version of Mager's flowchart in this document: http://www.archertraining.co.uk/Documents/The%20Pe rformance%20Trainer.pdf [archertraining.co.uk]

    Here's a spot that could help you determine your learning goals, although it's aimed at people designing courseware: http://www.bryanhopkins.co.uk/learning_design/lear ning_map.htm [bryanhopkins.co.uk]

    Lastly, remember it's your life. The company doesn't care for you like your family does. Nobody ever died and said, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office." (unless they were married to my ex-wife). Your work and the rest of your life need to be in alignment.

    These are my opinions, of course, based on 40 years of programming.

  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:35AM (#14554544) Journal

    Having a company that's willing to pay for training is nice, it really is.

    But the reality is its your career and your responsibility. My first job was with a company that gave a little training to programmers. Most of them griped and complained that they weren't getting enough training. Which was almost true, they had enough training to get started, but they weren't getting nearly enough experience. A few of us took some personal initative and developed useful skills. We actually studied things beyond basic CS. When everybody finally bailed or was laid off, those of us who studied got jobs as engineers and systems admins. The others ended up testers

  • by NullProg (70833) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:37AM (#14554560) Homepage Journal
    This is not a flamebait response, but most moderators will treat it so.

    "I'm currently working as a Microsoft Systems Administrator. Through a series of bungled management decisions, have found myself responsible for a Windows Server 2003 Active Directory network, that I know nothing about (the person who was sent for training was: not the Microsoft point person, as I was; and left the company, soon after the domain upgrade).

    Your a Microsoft Adminstrator but you know nothing of AD services. Your on Par with most MCSE/MSVP/PMS/MS whatever certificate holding persons. Your fine, it's just that most of what you need to know is buried in Microsofts SDK documentation.


    It doesn't look as though training will be forthcoming, and I've just been moved from the lab, where I was training myself while simultaneously handling the domain. I've got the MCSA/MCSE Training Kit, but recently I've found numerous errors, so many that I was sent a free Press Kit book, for submitting all of the errors I had found. Between management's reluctance to shell out for training, and being moved from the lab, I'm getting the distinct sense that training is something I'm expected to take care of, on my own time. Is this the de-facto standard within IT, and for all jobs within IT?


    Is it your career or mangements career? Who trained Bill Gates or Wozniak? Its up to you to figure stuff out. If your into computers why should you care about the platform? Your next job could be Windows/AIX/AS400/Linux whatever. Always be ready for the next career jump.


    If so, how do you Slashdot readers keep up with your continuing education, while still maintaining a personal life? Is it naive to try to leave my work at work?"
    "I'm especially interested in hearing from the Slashdot readers of the female persuasion, as I have a husband, a dog, and a household to keep up with (no kids by choice, but I wouldn't have the time to take care of them, even if I wanted to).


    I'm male. I have a wife and three kids, one dog and one cat and a habitat they all call home. Yes I work overtime most/sometimes. We do family things on the weekends. I'm currently learning OCAML in my private time (I get up early on weekends, have coffee and learn something new). Whats your problem?


    I also have the added responsibility of being the primary breadwinner. My free time is valuable in that it allows me to take care of that which I can't during the day (grocery shopping, dog responsibilities, cleaning, etc), and decompress/de-stress in order to prepare for the next day's work. I like tinkering with computers and learning new stuff, but I fear that if I'm expected train myself, outside of work, I may need to consider a different career.

    You may need a new significant other if he/she is not willing to share (along with his/hers) in the responsibilties of your lifes vision quest. I have time to play network games with my kids, satisfy my wife, work (+- 50 hours), play with my dog, and clean house when my wife is too busy.

    Without trying to sound mean, whats your problem? Is everything supposed to be given to you?

    I like computers, its a life choice for me. Maybe you don't. My advice? Use common sense and choose your own path.

    Enjoy,
  • by drgroove (631550) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:53AM (#14554633)
    it will train them to fulfill their job functions.

    If not, it won't.

    It is up to you to decide if it is worth staying with a company that shows this kind of disdain and disrespect for you and its employees.

    There are plenty of companies that respect their workers and will train them. I strongly recommend finding one.
  • one strategy... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bobzibub (20561) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @12:55AM (#14554645)
    Suggest to the powers-that-be in a memo thus:

    The Active directory is dependent upon one (or two) nodes that may go kaput. In such a situation, nobody can log in. Nobody can do any work. This could cost a day or two of lost productivity plus chaos.

    The problem may not be solvable without the assistance of highly trained contractors. "Best practices" demands that we have some sort of backup plan.

    We have two options: hire a contractor on the spot or get some support when the emergency happens.

    Appendix I. Emergency Assitance 24/7:
    Contractor A:
    rate: $XXX per hour

    Contractor B:
    rate: $XXX per hour

    Contractor C:
    rate: $XXX per hour.

    Appendix II. Support fees for Active Directory with x nodes:
    Contractor A:
    Base: $XXXX
    Monthly: $XXX

    Contractor B:
    Base: $XXXX
    Monthly: $XXX

    etc.

    That should scare the bjesus out of them. Once it is in Memo format, it is on the record and ready for discovery with any law suites. They will act because they are legally obliged to prevent loss to their shareholders and there is a memo floating around that will incriminate them should any disaster happen. Put all that in an attached word doc and in your email mention that you are extremely eager to help rectify this situation in any way possible! If that takes improving my skills, I will do it!

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers,
    -b

  • by Punk Walrus (582794) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @07:41AM (#14556195) Journal
    I have a button in my pod that says:

    A man once asked me, "What if I train my employees and they leave?" So I asked, "What if you do NOT train them, and they stay?"

  • Budget vs. Risk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SloppyElvis (450156) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:03AM (#14557539)
    I know nothing about your company, but in my experience, training budgets are decided at the onset of each fiscal year. These budgets are balanced against monies slated for employee compensation increases, perhaps additional employees, contractors, tools, etc. If your company doesn't keep some money for employee training, than it doesn't believe investing in employees is worthwhile, and you may want to check your other options.

    Take heart, this is not simply an IT issue, it is a corporate issue.

    Here are some things to ask yourself...

    How frequently do employees "rise in the ranks" at your company?
    Are new higher-up positions always filled with people off the street?
    Does your company have any benefits for continuing adult education? Tuition reimbursement?

    How important is this domain that you now control?
    What would be the cost to the business if you left?

    If your company is blind to employee education as an investment in the business, than you may be able to remind your supervisor that the cost of replacement will be higher than the cost of training. Of course, don't bluff with your job, be prepared to walk if your going to lay it on the table. You don't need to threaten to quit to get the message across. Ultimately, your supervisor will need to answer for their decisions, and if those decisions are costing the company money, they will be in a tough situation. Remember, if you've agressively pursued training, and not recieved it, you have a good stand against a boss who thinks training is your responsibility. Placing unqualified people in important positions is bad management, plain and simple.

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