TMCnet Feature
March 12, 2021

5 Tips for Effective Team Training

How to Train Your Team and Get Better Results

If you want to get the most out of your IT department, you should reconsider your approach to training. Traditionally viewed as a boring staple of cold and lifeless companies, today’s training programs can be seen as a positive in the workplace. The challenge, however, lies in architecting a training system that works for your team.

Quality Training is Challenging

Few business owners, managers, or IT directors get jazzed up about training. Most view it as a necessary evil or a box that has to be checked off in order to satisfy higher-ups. Generally speaking, this sort of mentality is rooted in the many challenges of training – such as:

  • Choosing where to focus. The first challenge is a big one: What topics and skills do you want the training to address? In other words, what content is most important?
  • Sourcing content. Where does the training come from? You’ll have to determine whether to use existing content from somewhere else or develop your own proprietary curriculum.
  • Standardizing training. In order for training to be an effective tool for your business, it has to be consistent. While it may evolve over time, everyone who goes through the training needs to be equipped with the same basic philosophy and skills. This standardization process requires a high degree of intentionality.
  • Cultivating buy-in. Just because you have a training program doesn’t mean your team will be excited to participate. You have ways of making them do it, but you’ll need voluntary buy-in to generate positive results.
  • Managing costs. Training doesn’t come without a cost. In addition to the time it takes away from other core tasks, you have to think about the resources required to create the curriculum, organize the training, execute, and optimize.

If you’re overwhelmed by all of the challenges of training, you aren’t alone. However, we’d advise you not to let these perceived difficulties prevent you from rolling up your sleeves and developing an effective training program. Because with the right approach, you can turn training from a thorn into a rose.

5 Tips for More Effective Training

We’re not going to pretend like training an IT department is easy. There are, however, plenty of strategies you can use in order to simplify the process and get better results. Let’s take a look:

1. Lay the Proper Framework

The best training is useless if team members aren’t acutely aware of who they are, what their roles are, and what’s expected of them.

Your employees obviously know what their direct duties are, but do they have an intimate understanding of how they fit into the big picture? As basic as it may seem, any good training program begins by laying the proper framework of each person’s role and the basic skills required to fulfill these roles.

As the one in charge of the training, you don’t know what you don’t know. This is why it’s helpful to meet with each employee at the start of any training initiative. Through one-on-one conversations, you’ll get a feel for where each person stands, as well as specific ways you can tailor the material to them.

2. Be Hands-On and Practical

So much of the training material you see in our industry is theoretical. And though there’s certainly a time and place for theory, big-picture ideas aren’t ideal for training. Team training should be designed to equip.

Equipping content is hands-on and practical. It provides granular strategies, how-to tips, and applicable techniques that employees can implement right away. It should feature a combination of classroom learning and on-the-job training.

3. Appeal to a Variety of Learning Styles

Developing a one-size-fits-all approach is a recipe for disaster. People are different and have unique learning preferences and behaviors. According to one theory, there are four common styles of learning:

  • Feeling and watching. People with this style would rather watch than do. They’re imaginative information gatherers.
  • Watching and thinking. This learning style likes concepts and is good at understanding information clearly and logically. Contrary to most people, they’d actually prefer readings and lectures to hands-on activities.
  • Doing and thinking. These people are problem solvers. They like technical tasks and enjoy experimenting with new ideas and solutions.
  • Doing and feeling. This hands-on learning style uses intuition more than logic. They’re all about new experiences and prefer to work in teams.

As you read through these learning styles, you can probably identify people on your team who fit into each category. So to develop an effective training program, you’ll need to be versatile in the strategies and mediums you use.

While digital resources will probably make up the bulk of your training, consider ordering printed handbooks to act as supplementary resources. Use a combination of video teaching, discussion-based exercises, and group activities. Switch things up so that everyone gets a taste of something that fits their style.

4. Provide Motivation

You might be excited about training, but your employees almost certainly are not. You have to find a way to get them more engaged. One way to do this is by gamifying the experience.

Gamification, which is the process of using game mechanics and principles and applying them into non-game contexts, is a great option for pulling people in and making them feel invested.

“The point of gamification is to inspire users to engage with the content,” Valmis explains. “Especially with tasks that are not enjoyable, such as an in-depth safety training program and compliance training, gamification can be a great tool to motivate and engage the user.”

Contests, prizes, and teamwork are all key ingredients to a successfully gamified training. Use things like point systems and leaderboards to keep people excited.

5. Iterate to Great

Your first training program won’t be your best. The key is to get started and then let it evolve. Gather feedback from your employees and look for opportunities to iterate to bigger and better versions.

Do More With Less

The key to an effective IT training program or initiative is not to present the most material or develop the most extensive initiatives. Instead, you should aim to do more with less. By adopting a lean approach that focuses on core principles like those outlined in this article, you’ll discover that training isn’t the negative thing you once thought. In fact, it can be pretty rewarding!

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