I had a tough choice for training this year. We generally don’t use all of our Microsoft support credits so some is leftover for health checks and training. But the training is limited to conferences like TechEd that are mostly Microsoft supported. I initially started a conversation in December with management about planning our training a little farther in advance. I wanted to get a feel for what was likely to be approved training so I could ask for that and not waste my time with something else. What I got in response is a bland “whatever” type response and that if I want something I should submit some kind of official proposal.
I had to pick for myself what training event would be most beneficial. My focus has been SQL Server for about 3 years so I fairly quickly narrowed my options to that topic. Summit, Rally, Connections, TechNet, Consulting, Classroom training… how is one to choose? Consulting has the massive benefit of being able to be geared specifically for our environment, however there is a limited number of opinions and specialties that can be covered with one engagement.
Last year I attended #sqlrally in Orlando. This year’s #sqlrally was in Texas in June. I am now interested in some higher level sessions that #sqlrally was lacking last year. I was torn between the summit and sqlconnections which ended up being mostly a coin-flip.
My goal was to be a goose http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvrgD0mAFoU If you haven’t seen that video I highly recommend it. To explain, foie gras is a delicacy. Its the liver of a bird that has been beyond reasonably stuffed with food. I wanted to be that bird who went to training and got more than my fill so I could then come back and ooze the fatty greatness to my coworkers and peers.
So I wrote up the training request and was met with radio silence. I believe my management was employing the negotiation tactics of the Chineese culture. I’ve heard that it is impolite to say no, so instead you don’t say anything at all until the other party gets the point. I respect this method of weeding out requests. If you make the effort to ask multiple times it must be important, right?
I began bringing up the request at opportune times but was given the cold shoulder. “I haven’t had time to discuss that.” “We need to get the training credits in order.” “Its not like we can send you to training every year.”
That last one got under my skin a bit. I responded like a typical child and mentioned that other people in the company get to go to training every year. It wasn’t like I was requesting multiple trainings a year which wouldn’t be too crazy.
I combated this management paralysis with a tactic of my own. I grew a beard. =]# I have never grown a beard for more than a week so this was quite the challenge. Also, its important to know that I wear a shirt and tie to work every day so the cultural effect is slightly increased.
It was quite an effective tool because I could now simply walk by my managers office and scratch my beard and he would be gently reminded of the situation. I made sure that they knew this was my occupy movement and it wasn’t coming off until I got an answer. I wasn’t even picky about a yes or no I just wanted the discussion to happen.
So I am happy to report that only a few short months after I asked my training was approved. I plan on reviewing my notes in the next few days and distilling some of the content here.