Featured Trailhead Hoodie by Amanda Cheung

Published on January 12th, 2016 | by Chris Edwards

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Admin Commandment #6: An Awesome Admin should always… blaze their own learning trail!

Well, you don’t have to be the brainiest admin out there to work out from the title that this commandment is about Trailhead. Sort of.

What we want to talk about here is really using things like Trailhead as the jumping-off point for embarking on your own personalised learning journey for you and your org.

So while we want to do more here than just simply tell you to go and work through Trailhead, we will indeed start there…

We won’t go through every detail on what Trailhead is and how it works, for two reasons. Firstly, there are many other excellent posts out there that do exactly that (like this one, or that one, or this other one, or how about this one …I really could go on). Secondly, with over 250,000 Trailhead badges having been earned by the community, there is a strong chance you’re already using it or at least aware of it and looking for the time to get started.

Trailhead Hoodie by Amanda Cheung

So instead we’ll just give you a one-line summary: Trailhead is an easy, fun way to learn any aspect of the Salesforce platform, with well-structured trails, modules and projects that allow you not just to learn but also to practise and validate that learning. With trails aimed at beginner users, intermediate admins, advanced developers, non-profit organisations and everything in between, there really is something for everyone.

With the “here’s what it is, now use it” part out of the way, let’s move on to the wider discussion on how learning – and passing that learning on – will make you an awesome admin and why you should be blazing your own learning trail.

Firstly, let’s start with the obvious direct benefit of learning.

There will be features and techniques you use in your org all the time, and you’ll be very good at them, but there is no harm in reading up on these just to make sure there isn’t something you’ve missed or a further improvement you could make. And of course thanks to three new releases landing each year, features are always evolving and so having a frequent refresher really is essential.

And of course, no matter how large or complex your org is, I guarantee you there will be features or products that you are not using, or at least not using all of. You might the king or queen of Sales Cloud, but maybe there is a particular sales feature that your org doesn’t use, like product schedules or the latest version of forecasting. And as for Service Cloud, well that might be a foreign land for you. That’s before we even get started on things like the Analytics Cloud, Lightning Experience or using Salesforce for non-profit fundraising.

There really is no reason not to expand your learning, both to cover off any small gaps in knowledge around the features you do use and to begin your learning journey on the areas that you don’t. Your org isn’t going to stand still forever and maybe next year you will find yourself adopting a new product – wouldn’t it be nice to have a headstart on that? And of course, let’s be honest, you might not be in that particular org for the rest of your career. Having broader knowledge will equip you well for any future career moves. Go after it with all you can give.

Secondly, furthering your own learning puts you in a great position to help others.

Whether those others be your org’s users or perhaps other Salesforce professionals that are seeking help via #askforce or on the Success Community.

Remember that we don’t all learn in the same way, and often one person who learns something is then able to present that in a different way that really helps others understand the concept more clearly. Think of someone new to the platform learning about profiles, roles and the differences between them. Maybe they’re the kind of person that can absorb this by reading technical explanations about access to rows and columns in database tables – but maybe they’re the kind of person for whom a real-world analogy would work better.

Thirdly, as well as the direct benefit to you and the feel-good factor from being able to help others, we want to stress the indirect benefit of passing that learning on.

This is especially true when it comes to teaching and upskilling the users in your org. By giving your users the skills and knowledge they need to achieve certain things or complete certain processes, you are giving them the gift of self-sufficiency.

But that is a two-way gift. By giving the users the ability to perform more of their own Salesforce tasks, you free yourself from having to do those tasks for them. From a career perspective, you then really mature from being a helpdesk-style admin to one that is able to spend more time concentrating on designing and building new functionality and pushing your org forward. Everybody wins.

Admittedly, there is a limit to what you’ll want to teach your users. You don’t want to give away all of your awesome admin secrets! And there will surely be a limit to what they want to learn. But certainly anything that straddles that “Should I do this myself or get my admin to do it?” boundary is a great contender to be taught. That could be building reports, importing data, adding leads or contacts to campaigns – anything that helps end users to do their job more self-sufficiently and therefore quicker. It will help them, it will help your business, and it will help you.

We started this post by saying we’d be using Trailhead as the jumping-off point for your own learning journey. So while we absolutely endorse Trailhead as the best place for you to further your learning, we encourage you to also blaze your own trail as you go. Use that resource not just as learning for learning’s sake but always have in mind how and when you could use your new knowledge to help those around you. Knowledge is power; make sure you use it to empower others.

Image credit: Amanda Cheung

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