Re: Professional development; employer expectations

15 Jun 2005 - 11:01pm
9 years ago
2 replies
753 reads
Wendy Fischer
2004

I definitely agree with you on the creativity and inspiration part.

Part of the reason that I left my last job is that I wanted to publish a use case and make a presentation on some of our findings, but had no support or interest from senior management. I can't say I've really had any interest in attending conferences for the past several years, other than obscure conferences that had no relation to my job at the time.

The other thing though is that ultimately if the organization is not willing to support the professional development of the designer, it's up to the designer to do it himself. It would be nice if employers are "responsible" for professional development but employers aren't responsible for anything except paying you to perform your work. (sorry but I get cynical here).

I think that it is the rarity for employers to pay for professional development. It is a nice thing to have but not up there with medical insurance. I think that it has to be a fundamental value of the company for them to actively provide professional development for employees; with most companies that is not the case.

There are inexpensive forms of professional development, such as attending local SIG meetings, going to the museum to look at design or art, and taking classes at a community college or university. Get a bunch of designers together, find a random problem and come up with an interface solution. I've found a lot more inspiration for interaction design in the past several years at less expensive level, as opposed to going to a conference or publishing a paper.

That's not to say that I disagree with you. It'd be nice to have, and if I was in a position that it was something that I had to consider I'd definitely have a budget and promote professional development for design resources. However, a designer should not go in to an organization expecting that the organization is going to pay for X, unless that was written into their offer letter.

In the alternative there are companies that do have a good track record of promoting professional development, like Adobe, Yahoo, SAP, SAS, Cisco, etc. I know more about software development side, very little about the consultancies.

-Wendy

Comments

19 Jun 2005 - 9:21am
Jared M. Spool
2003

At 12:01 AM 6/16/2005, Wendy Fischer wrote:
>The other thing though is that ultimately if the organization is not
>willing to support the professional development of the designer, it's up
>to the designer to do it himself. It would be nice if employers are
>"responsible" for professional development but employers aren't
>responsible for anything except paying you to perform your work. (sorry
>but I get cynical here).

As an emplloyer, I can tell you that this is a very short-sighted
perpsective. If I want to improve the quality of the results of my
organization, then I need to make an investment in that organization.
Professional development is an important tool for me to get better results.

>I think that it is the rarity for employers to pay for professional
>development. It is a nice thing to have but not up there with medical
>insurance. I think that it has to be a fundamental value of the company
>for them to actively provide professional development for employees; with
>most companies that is not the case.

As a business that makes much of its revenue thru selling professional
development products (the User Interface conference, UIE Roadshows, UIE
Reports, and on-site training, to name a few), I can tell you it's not a
rarity at all. And it's growing (again). The last year has been very good
for us in these areas.

It comes down to be a matter of economics. Is it cheaper to hire new talent
with improved skills or to train existing talent to acquire the new skills.
Before the dot-com bust, training was far less expensive than hiring,
because talent was already entrenched in high-paying jobs. Just after the
bust, hiring was less expensive than training, due to the glut of talent
available. Now, with lots of people having moved away, the talent pool is
decreasing (anyone who has tried to hire someone lately knows it's really
hard) and training is now become a more viable option.

I know that people are getting their bosses to approve training. What I'd
like to know more about is specifically the arguments/justification they
used and how they chose the specific professional development track they
ended up with.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
http://www.uie.com jspool at uie.com

UI10 Spotlight Presenter: Flow author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
See details at http://www.uiconf.com

19 Jun 2005 - 11:19am
Nick Ragouzis
2004

<dropcynicism>
I think Jared's made a good (half-)point here.

The missing ingredient is related to what is missing
from Wendy's comment: there must be some reason why you,
as a designer, feel this strongly about education.
Because it matters to *you*? Because you have questions,
and have made a plan yourself? Because you expect
the education to be useful, to you if not others
as well?

This is not an idle exercise, it is a necessary
precondition, because, if Livia is right and an open
channel and advocacy are key, what do you plan to
broadcast on that channel? Or decode what is received?

The missing ingredient is this:
a) What is *your* plan? and,
b) How do *you* plan to bring that education into
the organization? To convert that into an
explicit, formal and systematic, capability?

So, the other half of Jared's question is:
* How have you actually applied the education you've
received? What, specifically, did you do to make that
application?
* How have you made that education useful to yourself,
to your organization? What measures did you use? Over
what period?
* How useful was each kind and instance of training to
such application, and what characteristics contributed
to that?
</dropcynicism>

<infermode>
No business should bother training any employee, except
in some minor matters unique to the business. Why is it
in a particular business' interests? Why does a business
need capabilities beyond what most folks can offer on their
own?

If the workers are not professionals, then the work isn't
all that unique, nor the workers to the work ... and a
business can shift the work, or shift the workforce. If
the workers are professionals, then they are responsible
for maintaining their own professional qualifications,
and one is like the other.

Oh, you say, a designer is different. A designer can make
a strategic difference, through their unique abilities, the
process used, and, over a period of practice in the context,
accumulating knowledge about the products, services, and
audiences relevant to the business?

Well, you didn't mean that a particular designer would do
this, right? Or that you expect a business to invest in one
individual all the differential knowledge and capability
of the business? That we risk everything on a superstar or
two?

Or maybe you think it's something less, just a professional
practice equal among some 250 that keep the business
operating and competitive.

So, if so, then, and if business will train you, what will
you do, specifically, to return that investment into the
business? And to keep it from being your unique knowledge
and capability and increasing the business' dependence
on you?

While we're on the topic, since you brought it up, what are
you doing already to make your tacit knowledge more explicit
in the organization? You, individually, and you as part of
changing the business to depend less on any designers' own
private, special, magic?

</infermode>

Spoketh:

Jared:
> I know that people are getting their bosses to approve
> training. What I'd like to know more about is
> specifically the arguments/justification they used and
> how they chose the specific professional development
> track they ended up with.

Wendy:
> The other thing though is that ultimately if the
> organization is not willing to support the professional
> development of the designer, it's up to the designer to
> do it himself. It would be nice if employers are
> "responsible" for professional development but
> employers aren't responsible for anything except paying
> you to perform your work. (sorry but I get cynical
> here).

Livia:
> Personally, I feel that allowing people a way to voice
> their concerns and ensuring an open channel for
> communication is half the battle won. The other half
> is advocating those needs across the organization and
> accommodating to designer's needs. But always educating
> designers about the business and the other groups and
> THEIR unique needs. No group is more important than the
> other.

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