Avoid Extinction: Keep Your Skills and Your Team’s Skills Sharp

Avoid Extinction: Keep Your Skills and Your Team’s Skills Sharp
By: Jackie Schaffer

During a recent series of roundtable meetings with creative leaders, we asked whether each team had training budgets and whether they were adequate. The answers were across the board. The most generous approach included a set amount per team member per year (~$1200). This amount and approach was corporate wide, not something the creative leader needed to put in place. On the other end of the spectrum were companies where no training expenditures outside of mandated corporate compliance training would be permitted in 2013. Most creative teams had at least some money for training, but what concerned creative leaders more was a perceived lack of time for training. Convincing team members to take time for training was a consistent challenge.

Perhaps in some professions 12 or more months without professional development may be normal and not considered a big deal. But in creative services, training is critical to providing efficient, high-quality service. Most creative teams are familiar with and swear by Lynda.com—if Lynda.com is not available to your team, please consider making this a priority. It’s the most cost-effective training you can offer your team. Even in a year when “no budget” is available for training, most likely teams can afford a few Lynda.com licenses. With my former creative team, training came to less than $2/hour based on our usage—you can’t beat that price!

Training, though, is not solely the responsibility of employers. Employees should want additional training. And, in fact, the most successful team members are those that proactively seek out training opportunities and prioritize training—even in their personal time. Keeping current with functional skills is critical in our industry. Software updates are released almost annually, programming languages are extinct within a few years, and faster, better equipment is available each year. Every year you let you go by without sharpening or enhancing your skills, decreases your personal marketability and functional skills. Don’t become extinct by becoming complacent about training.

Jackie Schaffer, vice president and general manager of Cella Consulting, is a former in-house leader who has consulted for teams of all sizes, including Fortune 500 clients, government entities and educational institutions and has the unique opportunity to speak with hundreds of creative leaders each year. Cella helps creative leaders and their teams identify and execute strategic priorities, so they can increase their effectiveness and focus on creating high-quality creative.

Cella is a co-author of the In-House Creative Services Industry Report and authors weekly blogs on business operations topics pertinent to the role of creative leaders.