Career development

Expert advice: Even a short course can have a major effect

It doesn't need to be an MBA to be good enough. A short course or a mentorship scheme can better equip you for your responsibilities as a manager – and it can be a much needed break from everyday life at work.

If your assignments have become more demanding and your work balance more challenging, continuing training is an obvious solution – especially in situations in which you feel you've come to a standstill because you lack specific competences.

Look for the small breaks with a big effect in a busy work life. In periods when you feel the bottleneck tightening, or that you’re always working on the same routines, a short course can be a great help.

However, as IDA career counsellors, we often experience that both managers and employees have specific expectations about what continuing training should be: They want an MBA or a long and theory-based course.

And there are plenty of good things to say about these. However, in order to overcome periods of just routine, operational tasks or concerns, it's more important to plug the gaps in the hull and stop water flowing in than to paint the galleon’s figurehead at a fancy university.

Think about what competences you need, and then find out how you can cover them. A four-hour webinar on a specific topic may be enough, or perhaps you need to join a mentorship scheme for personal advice. Continuing training can take many different forms.

It's quite possible to learn something without taking a lot of time out of your busy schedule. Beside courses, webinars and mentorship schemes, IDA also offers after-work meetings, podcasts and much more. If you're looking for a break or more competences, then look into simpler resources before starting on a full MBA.

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What problem are you trying to solve?

Many workplaces operate with a one-size-fits-all model, where everyone in the management group goes through the same training. Making sure that everyone has the same starting point and language about a job is prudent.

But the skill set required quickly becomes very extensive, including specific personal qualities, communication skills and specialist knowledge.

Few people are equally able in all categories, and if you are a new manager or new in your position, insist on getting more specialist training as well – just like your staff.

This means that you will be able to address the problem you're trying to solve more accurately, even within a "one-size-fits-all" approach.

Continuing training can give you a mental break

If you're busy because your work has become more demanding, don't take continuing training at any price.

However, two arguments in particular make it good sense to prioritise training. The first is that continuing training can give you the right tools to better handle your current situation, thereby reducing your workload.

The second is that learning new skills can be a much-needed break from everyday concerns, operational tasks and routines.

In this context, it actually doesn't matter whether you're taking a course in French, knitting, cooking or something relevant to your work. And if the primary aim is to recharge your batteries for the next couple of months, it certainly doesn't have to be an MBA to be good enough.