It’s Monday morning, I am getting ready to leave the house, but this time something is different, instead than actually going to work, I am going to SwanseaCon an agile development and software craftsmanship conference based in Swansea. I have actually been very lucky, as this is the 3rd time that my company has allowed employers to attend this conference, and today I have decided to share my thoughts on, why sending your staff to a conference is actually a good idea.
The usual excuses
- It is too expensive
- We do not have time for this
- I do not want my staff to leave (conference are always full off recruiters).
- The topics are not specifically helpful for our workflow
You may have heard these sentences many times before. because these are the usual excuses used by employers to convince themselves that they have done the right thing. But the reality is different.
Extend your horizons
The main benefits in attending a conference, is that it extends your horizons, allows you to see outside the box, it connects you with the rest of the industry. All this can actually support a single individual growth, but also be very beneficial to the whole company.
Spending some time with people around the same industry, can be an eye opening moment. It can highlight point where the company is succeeding, for example in our case I have been able to find out that our current implementation of agile is actually in a better and more mature stage than I actually thought, or provide insight on your failures, highlighted by a single discussion with others attendees that have clarified our lack of microservices and continuous delivery that seems to be the norm around the room.
Speaking with other attendees is fantastic, but the strength of conference could actually be closer than you think. You may be working in a company for many years, and had the same colleagues for years, but how many time have you stopped and had a technical conversation with your tech colleagues that did not involve work related issue?
Allowing your teams to attend conference could be very beneficial in supporting them. It could enforce the team bonding and help team members share information that would otherwise been kept from the rest of the team.
Giving them a chance to go around will actually make people happy, and happiness increase productivity that it will directly affect your business.
Having very well structured team that feel unified and can work well together is priceless and should be encouraged when possible.
Do not give them reason to leave
The harder conversation to have with your manager is about recruitment and possibility of your staff being approached from other recruiter, and I would be a liar not to admit it. But maybe we should actually approach this subject in a different way.
Would the fear of loosing people, actually help us to see what the company is doing wrong? Denying an employer to go to a conference, it is not the actual solution to the problem, because it will not prevent him leaving, but just delay the inevitable.
This events should actually be used to analyse your position in the industry and see why your staff would ever attempt to leave.. Is is about benefits? are you underpaying them? are you pushing them too much, without proper remuneration? maybe this are the real problem and not actually granting them the chance to attend a conference or a meet up.
I cannot thank my company enough for giving me this opportunity, it support me immensely and in return I try to pay the company back in return.
Conferences can be expensive, and I am not trying to convince you to actually send your staff to every single one around, because that would not be manageable. I am really of the opinion that being active in the community, supporting your staff and making them feel comfortable to go around and share their knowledge and “advertise” your company should actually be encouraged because it will support not only the personal individual but it will also support the whole company.