Tag Archives: it training

FREE Gift and Special Discount Offer from ITLever

Last minute “stocking stuffers”
and a FREE gift

I want to wish all my ITLever subscribers and visitors a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope you have had a successful year and will enjoy the holidays.

This is our 500th post so I wanted to do something special, , , read on.

Now is the time for giving so don’t forget your IT managers. Below are two ways to give yourself and IT managers you know a gift that will help them achieve more success.

Use both offers and tell others, , , good through January 10, 2014.


OFFER #1  —  FREE copy of
21 Secrets Every IT Manager Should MUST Know

21 Secrets Cover4Download my newest e-book, print it and give a copy to your IT manager(s), , ,
or simply give them the url link to download a copy of their own.

Receiving a hard copy color version from you will make it more special!

I think you will find this book insightful, interesting, and fun to read.
The e-book sells for $19.95 on our web site but it’s free with this offer.

Sorry, this free offer has expired

CLICK HERE to Order the e-book


OFFER #2  —  20% discount
on all purchases through January 10, 2014

We have offered discounts on specific products before
but never a discount across the board.

Any purchase on our IT Manager Store site
through January 10th, 2014 will receive a 20% discount.

— Practical IT Manager Resources —
Training  —  Books  —  Tools

itbmc_1To receive your discount, simply apply the discount code “jumpstart
to the Shopping Cart before checking out.

The system reduces item prices by 20% automatically.

Order 1 item or several, , , you will receive 20% off of everything.

Examples of what you can save through January 10, 2014:
IT Manager Institute and ITBMC class- save $590.00
IT Manager Institute Self Study – save $199.00
Practical IT Manager GOLD Series e-books & ToolKit – save $55.80
IT SUCCESS Summit in Dubai (May 6-8, 2014) – save $300.00

If you’ve been thinking of attending the IT Manager Institute
or buying the GOLD Series of e-books and tools,
now is the time to purchase to save 20%.
(Offer available through January 10, 2014)

Offer is valid for any item listed on
when you use the discount code “jumpstart

Our web site accepts the following:
American Express, VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and PayPal

If you have problems making payment or need an invoice,
contact our office at  info@mde.net

  Please feel free to share these offers with your colleagues.

I hope your holidays are wonderful and that 2014 will be your best year ever.


Create a training studio for your company

class-2Training is a tremendous motivator for IT employees so identifying a training program for each of your employees is very important. The same thing is true for other employees in your company.

Something you should consider is creating a training studio for your company to develop and package training classes that can be used over and over. It’s a lot simpler and cheaper than you probably think. It can even save your company thousands of dollars in training expenses.

There are many variations to “packaging” a training class, , , anything from creating an audio file that can be listened to repeatedly, , , developing a PowerPoint presentation that you do a voice-over and record, , , to video recording a live presentation.

Each of these variations are easily accomplished and inexpensive to produce with today’s technology.

The easiest to do with both audio and video is the 2nd option, , , creating PowerPoint slides and recording a presentation, so let’s focus on this approach.

Let me clarify something. In this approach, you will record an audio voice-over and screens of a PowerPoint presentation as you deliver it in a controlled studio setting, not in front of a class or group of people, , , although you certainly could record in a live class.

recording a class

What you need:
There are just a few things you will need to develop and package training programs effectively, and you probably already have most of it:

  • Laptop or PC
  • PowerPoint software
  • Camtasia Studio software for recording a presentation
  • High quality microphone
  • Quiet room to record in

A couple of comments here, , ,

First, Camtasia Studio is one of the best and easiest recording products available and it’s inexpensive at $299.00 as of this post. I use it and highly recommend it. Camtasia records your PC screen and audio as you work through a presentation, , , browse the Internet and make comments, , , whatever you do is recorded while it is turned on, , , can even access your PC webcam to record you if you wish.


Second, good audio is a requirement so you want a good microphone. The good news here is that audio quality has improved significantly and a quality microphone is inexpensive. I have a professional grade Audio-Technica microphone on my desk that I use, but you don’t need to spend what I had to spend 7 years ago. I recently purchased a small portable mic to take with me on the road and it does a great job, , , almost as good as the pro mic in my office.

The mic I bought is a Samson Go Mic Compact USB Microphone – Plug n’ Play from Amazon.com; sells for $39.99 at time of this post, , , plus it’s usb and works with no additional software, , , it’s been a great tool for me.

Did I say portable? The case is 2 x 3 inches, , , slips in a small pocket of my briefcase.

Samson Go microphone  Samson GO-Mic

Steps to take:

  • Develop a PowerPoint presentation for your training class. Prepare bullet talking points for each slide in your presentation – it will help you focus and cover all the key points when you record your presentation.
  • Install your microphone and test it so you know it works
  • Install and become familiar with Camtasia Studio – Now, Camtasia has lots of features and capability, but you don’t need most of it initially. There are only two key things you need to learn to get started:
    1. How to record your screen and audio while you presenting
    2. How to edit out the sections where you make mistakes in the recording. In any recording session there will be mistakes, , , deleting these minor hiccups is easy with Camtasia.
  • Set up a quiet room to do your recordings. The microphone is quite sensitive and will pick up outside noise so you want to do your recordings in a quiet space.
  • Set up your PC to record – turn on the audio and Camtasia recording.
  • Do a quick test of just a slide to insure all is working as you expect.
  • Record your session
  • Edit as needed to clean up the recorded session
  • Publish your session to the desired format you want to use. Another nice thing about Camtasia is that you can publish your recordings to mp4, YouTube, and other formats that makes your recordings accessible by virtually any PC, laptop, or mobile device technology.

You can set up a recording studio in your company quickly and easily and at a very low cost to begin developing training programs that can be used again and again, , , not only for your IT organization but for your entire company.

Total cost if you already have a laptop and PowerPoint (and most of us do) – $338.00. Not bad when you consider doing this can save your company thousands of dollars by reusing packaged training programs, making them available over the internet, etc.

Steps to develop a career program for your IT staff

Recently, I took on a consulting project to temporarily manage an IT organization of 35 employees or so. One of the key initiatives of this interim IT Director role was to put in place a Career Development Program for the team.

If you need to do this in your organization, you might consider the steps I took .

1.  Define your existing organization structure – First, you need to quantify your existing IT organization structure so you have a sense of the current positions. This is a standard Organization Chart that probably looks something like the chart below.

organization chartEXHIBIT A

Instead of positions filled as shown in the example you would list employee names under the manager they report to.

2.  Define the Career Structure you want to manage to – This is not an Organization Chart, , , instead, it is a structure that defines the career positions that your staff will fall into. For example, there might be four levels of programmer positions, , , Associate Programmer, Programmer, Senior Programmer, and Programmer Consultant.

The chart below is similar to what we developed in the consulting project.

career structure

As you can see there are several skill disciplines (when viewed by columns), , , for programming, business analysts, desktop technicians, etc. This is not an Organization Chart, , , it is simply a Career Path Structure that shows the career progressions for each skill discipline.

If you have 10 programmers, seven of them might be at the Programmer Analyst position, two in the Senior Programmer position and one in the Associate Programmer position.

In addition, each position will have a range of salary levels that are appropriate for the level of skill and knowledge of the position.

3.  Revise and/or develop new job descriptions for all Career Structure positions – This is the hardest part and requires considerable time, , , but when completed you will have an updated set of job descriptions that match the Career Structure you plan to put in place. You will need your Human Resources Department involved in this one so your finished product complies to standards HR has for the rest of the company.

4.  Conduct a staff skills inventory assessment – One of the things you will want to do when you roll out your Career Planning Program is to show your employees a commitment to investing in their growth. Most organizations have “silos of knowledge” where all the knowledge and experience in a topic is contained in one or two people. This creates risk for your support organization so you need to determine where these gaps exist in order to develop additional depth, , , especially in mission critical support skills that are needed in your company.

To do this, list all the technical skills and application knowledge you need in your organization, , , then quantify who has these capabilities in your organization. There are many ways to do this, , , in this project I used a simple spreadsheet like the one below that made it easy for me to see where the knowledge gaps were.

IT Training Plan - General


In this example, I show you a section for the Business Analysts, , , you should have a similar skills inventory for each of your skill disciplines.

There are a few things to take notice of:

  • We list all the technical skills in the first column to the left, , , in this case each of the Business Applications we support as an IT Organization.
  • Next, we make a column for each of our Business Analyst employees
  • If an employee functional knowledge of an application, shade the appropriate cell beneath the employee’s name in green.
  • This clearly shows you where you have minimal functional knowledge. In these cases, you need to target training for these areas.
  • The red shaded cells represent the people we want to target training for each application.
  • Once you see where you need to focus training, you should prioritize your training efforts by highlighting the applications you want to prioritize. This is a subjective exercise based upon which applications you deem to be mission critical or more important and the applications that have the greatest risk due to lack of functional knowledge.

In looking at the sample, you can see Application A is in good shape with three people with functional knowledge. On the other hand, Applications B, C, and D only have one resource with functional knowledge for each, , , you need to do some training in these applications.

Application E has two people with functional knowledge. Ideally you would like to have at least three people capable in major applications so there is ample backup. That’s why we decided to train Bill on this application.

5.  Identify the most important training focus areas – Once you can see where your gaps are (where you have minimal expertise), you can identify which of these areas need to be prioritized for training. Focus on skill areas you’ve identified as mission critical and skill areas that have minimal expertise, , , applications shaded with orange in the sample above.

6.  Develop an IT Staff Training Plan – Every employee should have a specific training plan for the year. You want their training to be focused and that will help reduce the knowledge silos you have in your support organization.

The Skills Inventory shown in EXHIBIT C does this for you.

In the company I was with there were significant numbers of knowledge silos, especially in the applications the team was supporting. In this step, we did two things:

  • Targeted the employees to receive training for each skill
  • Identified the trainer to develop and deliver the training

All of what we needed to do in training for this organization could not be completed in a few months, , , maybe not even within a year. However, with a focus that’s prioritized based upon filling mission critical skill gaps we thought we would be able to make huge leaps in developing additional depth of knowledge throughout the team. Also, by spreading around the responsibility to deliver training you will be able to go faster.

7.  Deliver the Career Planning Program – I’ll write a BLOG post later on this topic and go into it in some detail, , , there are many things to consider when beginning to career council your employees, , , plus there are additional tools you will need to deliver your Career Plan message.

Be aware that when you deliver a Career Planning Program to employees who have not seen a program like this it is going to create some anxiety among the staff. When everyone finally sees where they fit within the Career Structure, there will be people who think they should be higher on the chart. Even if they are OK with where they are, they can be concerned about where someone else is placed on the chart.

Trust me, there will be issues so get prepared to handle them before you deliver the program.

When you deliver the Career Structure to the team, be sure you cover the program in detail including your training focus and have plenty of time for questions and answers, , , there will be many. Understand, you will not be able to make everyone happy with a Career Planning Program initially. What’s important will be to put a structure in place that provides a career path for your staff and a training program that invests in their development.

Over time, the noise level will diminish and you and your staff can use the program to provide a guide to help further people’s career, , , which is what it’s intended to do in the first place. To get there requires some work, an understanding of your team, possibly even some rough waters in the beginning of the implementation, , , but the benefits can be big in the long run.

One last comment, , , if you have a small organization of 12 or fewer people, it is difficult to have much of a Career Planning Program. For example, in a small IT organization there may be just one manager. The only way someone gets an opportunity to manage in the IT organization is if the current manager leaves for some reason or if the company grows enough to justify a larger IT organization with more IT managers.

success on targetIT employees want to succeed and they need a path for growth, , , it’s up to the manager to make it happen.

IT Manager Institute – Webinar Series

The week of November 28 – December 2, 2011 I will deliver a 5-day IT Manager Institute via webinar so anyone in the world can gain access to a “live” presentation of our highly successful program.

Date:  Monday, November 28th through Friday, December 2nd, 2011
Time:  8:00am to 2:00pm each day (US Central Timezone, , , GMT -6) each day with breaks.
Where:  From your PC or laptop connection to the Internet

Seats are limited
and the price for this first webinar class
is reduced by 30%.

In 2012, I will deliver quite a bit of training via webinar including the IT Manager Institute. You will hear more about this training series in the weeks to come, , , I have been quite busy preparing for a major launch of new IT manager products and services in January 2012.

The IT Manager Institute webinar to be held next week includes 5 days of instruction and the ability to take the ITBMC exam upon completing the course. All you need is a good internet connection and time to sit in on the class. Registration fee is $1,950.00, , , 30% discount from my classroom format and will include the same instructional information, class materials and BONUS items you receive in a class, , , plus the ability to take the ITBMC exam to obtain your IT Business Manager Certification.

This will be my 47th IT Manager Institute class but the first one delivered by webinar. Take advantage of the discounted price while you can.

Spend five days with me and learn practical processes that will help you achieve more success and receive over 100 IT management tools to make it happen.

Program details are at www.mde.net/institute

Register now

$ 1,950.00
5 days of online training with Mike Sisco

Are you a leader or follower?

Do you prefer to take the lead and put yourself out front and willing to take a risk if what you do does not succeed?

Or do you prefer to avoid taking risks and follow someone else’s lead?

It is OK to be either type, you know, , , even in a management position. Some managers are better executioners of project initiatives than being able to develop strategy and getting senior managers to buy in.

It can be due to a lack of salesmanship, , , lack of confidence, , , or just not knowing how to go about it. A follower can become a leader if he wants to.

Becoming a leader is simply a matter of learning what to do, how to go about it, , , and having tools that help you lead.

Confidence comes with knowledge, , , and knowledge comes either from gaining experience or by investing in learning from others who have the experience.

Leadership traits are not something you just flip a switch and “turn on”. We wish it could be so easy.

What I believe happens is that you start investing in your knowledge and learn about leadership techniques and traits of leaders, , , and as you begin using this new-found knowledge in your work, , , you wake up one day and you are leading instead of following.

It’s not magic, , , it just happens as you begin doing things that leaders do.

Others are following your lead, , , and no one knows when the change took place in you although everyone realizes you went from following to leading.

Some people make the transition faster than others. I don’t know that there is a time line that matters.

The key here is that to become a leader, you make a decision to become a leader, , , you invest in learning how to take the lead and start doing things a leader would do and begin using tools that helps you lead.

It is always your decision in the long run, and like I said earlier, , , it is OK to be a follower, even in a manager role. If you decide to become a leader, , , invest in a mentor who can assist you in your transition.

Start an employee training program in minutes

In my last post, I emphasized the need your IT people have in training and education, , , it is a key motivator for IT people and ranks as one of the top 3 reasons people say they stay with their company in surveys year after year.

How would you like to have the ability to customize your own training curriculum in minutes and make it available to your employees?

Tom Mochal and I spent three years developing weekly 20 Minute IT Manager (20MITM) training sessions to make a comprehensive training library available to IT managers.  There are 162 sessions in the series, each 20 minutes or less in length, , , an ideal time to focus on a specific topic.

Many of our clients host weekly training lunches or early morning training breakfasts for their team where they deliver a 20MITM session while everyone eats. At the end of the session, they discuss the training material and how it applies to their situation or what they can take from the session to improve their business.

The 20MITM sessions focus on 5 major categories that are important for IT organizations in any industry:

  • IT management
  • Project management
  • People management
  • Leadership
  • Personal development

In these categories, there are dozens of training classes that are appropriate for every IT employee to learn about, not just your IT managers. For instance, all your employees would benefit in learning about:

  • Problem solving techniques
  • Project roles
  • Simple project management tools
  • Fundamental status reporting
  • Dealing with an unhappy client
  • Effective communication tools
  • Understanding IT employee work behavior
  • Prioritizing your work
  • Coping with stress
  • Active listening is the key to effective communication

CLICK HERE to download and review the entire list of 162 sessions.

From such a large and diverse list of topics, you could create several training tracks for your staff, , , one for managers and supervisors, one for project managers, one for Help Desk staff, another for the programming support team, , , even one for your desktop technicians.

You could also put the training programs onto your Intranet and make them available for anyone in your company via the Enterprise license.

Create a specific program targeted to a group of people or make it available as needed in your company. The point is that you are making an investment in your people’s education and growing their professional skills, , , and this investment is valuable for your employees and your company.

Why is it valuable? Simple, , , one single tip or tool discussed in any one of the 20MITM sessions could be worth thousands of dollars to your company in cost savings, improving productivity, or avoiding a key risk.

Purchase individual licenses for $499.00 each or an Enterprise license for $2,000.00 that gives anyone in your company access to 162 online training sessions via your Intranet. It also gives you a great vehicle to develop teamwork and improve productivity of your IT organization.

CLICK HERE to learn more.

GET STARTED in minutes by ordering the complete 20MITM series, 162 sessions in all.


20 Minute IT Manager sessions are also available in single sessions at $9.99 each. Details are available at www.20minuteitmanager.com.


Top motivator for IT people is training and education

One of the top motivators for IT staff is always training and education. IT people have a huge need for continuing education in order to develop their skills and become more valuable.

Training and education is always in the top three reasons why IT employees stay with their company, what motivates them, and what they look for in a company.

If you are not investing in your employees, they will become disillusioned and seek alternatives that feeds this need; it can even cause them to leave your company. Because training is such a big issue for IT employees, you should develop a specific training program for each employee every year and include it in their Performance Plans.

Doing this shows commitment and an interest in your employee, , , and they pick up on it very quickly.

Some managers don’t want to train or educate their employees for fear it might position the employee to go somewhere else. My belief is that if you are managing your organization well, this investment is a big reason people stay with you, , , not look for ways to leave.

There are many training options these days, especially with all the online classes. There is absolutely no reason to not have an active training focus in your company in today’s world, , , and if you do not, you are missing a real opportunity with your employees.

The benefits are huge. Not only will your staff be doing things better, this investment goes over great in your efforts to improve morale, build teamwork and to develop a more capable organization.

Start an employee training program in minutes
In my next post, I’ll give you a quick and easy way to create an employee training focus in your company in minutes.