Finding a job is a lot of work. Recruiting and building a team is even more. Over the course of your career, how do you continually grow, challenge yourself, and rise to the top of your profession? I have a simple solution that will help strengthen your role in the company and increase the level and number of activities you can capably handle.
Functional and Cross-Functional Training
What is my Advice? Focus on Training and Cross-Training yourself and the talent around you. I spent my ‘first decade’ in Technology in the Bay Area. After spending my ‘second decade’ in Technology in Los Angeles, I noticed one key distinction. Everywhere I went in San Francisco and beyond, from the smallest startup to the largest enterprise, offered liberal Training and Cross-Training opportunities. I do not see that happen with much frequency in other areas of the country (Los Angeles in particular).
Training involves increasing the number and level of technical skills at your disposal. Many communities are very good at entry-level and hobbyist style meetups, but meetups alone will not build up your expertise. You and your team need mentors, to go back to classes, to take seminars, to travel to conferences, and more! Training only for technical skills, however, is a short-sighted plan. You also have to build up your team’s business, creative, and social skills. Above and beyond simple Engineering and Development, I put User Experience, QA Testing, Design, Layout, Usability, Copywriting, Copy Editing, and Technical Operations in the functional/training category – essentially all the things that go into your Technology department or shipping product out the door (however you define it).
Cross-Training involves increasing you and your team’s capabilities in areas outside your core Technology expertise, like Customer Development, Business Development, Marketing, and Sales. It is critical to get in front of your customers (whether they are consumers and vendors) and simply listen. It is essential to learn listening and communication skills – in order to more effectively communicate and perform an order of magnitude better. Stereotypically speaking, technical people are bad at these things (often to the detriment of their job).
Become a Leader
All leaders must have both Training and Cross-Training opportunities available to them. And don’t be so shortsighted as to only offer your team Training opportunities only within their discipline (and forego Cross-Training them) – you will only be doing you and your company a disservice by (proactively!) decreasing communication efficiency, increasing re-work, and creating an out-of-sync team that is unable to develop effectively (aka in a reasonable and timely manner).
What are you going to do to Train and Cross-Train you and your team?
About the Author: John Shiple
John creates successful companies by building innovative products for businesses and investors. He architects award-winning technologies that scale businesses while concurrently building, training and mentoring development teams. John’s work brings forth new products, optimizes business processes, lowers operating costs and enables operational scalability. He has a special expertise in working with emerging and disruptive technologies. John’s clients have included Samsung, NTT, Hilton, GeoCities, Bigstep.com, Mota Motors, MindMixer, and HotWired/Wired Digital. Check out John at FreelanceCTO.com.