Workplace training E-learning

11 minute read

5 Tips to Train a Winning Team in the Workplace

Sara Meij

Sara Meij

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Are you sitting at your desk right now, scratching your head, wondering how you could train your team and improve their effectiveness?

Is the workload on your team increasing, and do you need to transform their way of working as individuals, scrambling to make ends meet, to a high performing unit?

Or you may be one of those kick-ass bosses who just takes a liking to continuing team development and creating the best team in your organization. Whatever the reason may be, team training in the workplace is the way forward.

While you may have heard the time and costs involved in training and development are a drawback, the costs of not training are far greater – such as higher turnover, poorer work quality, and lack of loyalty. Training your staff as a team means they can fill in for each other better. And on top of that, their productivity and morale will increase.

Recent research by Deloitte shows team-based organizations are on the rise, and shifting the organizational structure from a traditional hierarchy towards a team-based model improves performance.

So it’s no surprise that with team structures increasing in organizations, effective team training is becoming an organizational necessity. Getting a group of widely different people to work together like a well-oiled machine doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s definitely worth the investment of time and money.

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But, what are the benefits of teamwork in your workplace?

The same Deloitte study says: “It’s a more effective model for operating in the dynamic, unpredictable business environment typically seen today. In the long term, we believe there will be no leading organization that does not work primarily on the basis of teams.

Having your employees share the work in a team based on their strengths increases productivity, morale and ultimately means less frustration along the way. According to this paper, groups outperform individuals in situations where neither have any expertise on the task they’ve been asked to do. This is called the “effect of synergy”. 

This study from 2017 shows that teamwork, when done well, impacts team performance, group cohesion, collective efficacy, and member satisfaction.

It also shows that simply telling your staff about the importance of teamwork is not enough to create meaningful improvements in teamwork. Instead, it’s more successful to have team members engaged in activities that require them to actively learn about and practice teamwork.

In short, you stand stronger together. So how do you effectively train your team, and encourage teamwork? Here are five tips for a winning team:

How to effectively train your team in the workplace: 5 tips for success

1. Focus on team building first and foremost

To create that synergy mentioned earlier, your team needs to spend time together and get to know each other. Your employees often spend more time together during the week than they do with their own family. But do they know each other? Do they understand each other? It’s one thing working alongside someone, it’s a totally different thing to work together. Research shows that team building has a positive effect on many different areas of the workplace; on goal setting, relationships and problem-solving.

Instead of focusing on individuals and personal goals, good team-building skills can unite employees around a common goal and increase productivity. They could be working across departments in different jobs, but their teamwork means they’re all working towards the same organizational objectives.

So perhaps before you start looking into team training methods, start with a few team building sessions. While you’re at it, make sure you schedule those activities during work hours and be creative. Go off-site, have fun and don’t make it a competition.

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2. Find out how your team members prefer to learn

One size doesn’t fit all. Diversity is key, not only within the workforce (which makes for a financially better performing organization) but also in the way you present learning opportunities to your team. Some people prefer hands-on training, while others prefer instructor-led classroom training. Some prefer to immerse themselves in a topic for a day, while others like to put aside an hour each day. It’s fair to say that catering to the different learning needs of your team is hugely important to the success rate of the training and to increase learning retention.

But where do you start? Using the Kolb four learning styles can be helpful to figure out how your team members prefer to learn and what style of training might suit them best.

The four styles are:

Feeling and watching (diverging)

People with this learning style prefer to watch rather than do and they gather information and use their imagination to solve problems. They’re good in brainstorming situations, prefer to work in groups, listen with an open mind and receive personal feedback.

Watching and thinking (assimilating)

This learning style prefers ideas and concepts over people, they are good at understanding wide-ranging information and organizing it a clear and logical way. They prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models and having time to think things through.

Doing and thinking (converging)

People with this learning style are good at problem-solving and using what they’ve learned to find solutions to practical problems. They prefer technical tasks over solving social issues. They like to experiment with new ideas and are practical in the way they work.

Doing and feeling (accommodating)

This learning style is hands-on and people who prefer this style rely on intuition more than logic. They like new challenges and like carrying out plans. They rely on others for information instead of doing their own analysis. They prefer to work in teams.

As mentioned before, figuring out what learning styles your team members have is really helpful in increasing learning retention. Someone who has the assimilating learning style may not feel very comfortable being thrown in the deep with hands-on training without prior lectures or lessons. On the other side, someone who has a converging learning style may tap out quite quickly in a lengthy think-tank type of brainstorm session.

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3. Offer different training methods to individuals in your team

It’s important to know why you want to train your team. Do you want them to learn about a specific topic? Or do you want to improve their interpersonal skills so they work together in a more efficient way? Once you’ve figured out what your objectives are with team training and what different styles your team members prefer, it’s time to look at the different ways you can train your team in the workplace.

Some training styles suit teams better than others. Hands-on training, for instance, can work really well for teams when combined with team building activities, to allow people to practice what they’ve just learned in a controlled environment and work together towards a common goal. The same goes for interactive training, where you can use games to run your team through different work scenarios and get them to collaboratively figure out how to best handle them. It can help them feel more prepared for different situations they may encounter at work, by practicing them beforehand.

Research shows that time, workload demands, budget constraints, and employees working remotely makes it harder for formal training programs to be successful. Not everyone has the attention span to sit through a day of training, take in and remember all the new information that’s being thrown at them. Research from LinkedIn shows that 58% of employees actually prefer to learn at their own pace.

Here’s where online training comes in. With GoSkills, your team can learn together, or at their own pace, with bite-sized and interactive content. They can do blended learning (a mix of online and face-to-face training) and it’s easy to track learner progress. An example of this might be using the Agile Scrum project management framework, where everyone on the team needs to understand the processes and roles involved in order to use the methodology successfully. You might feel it’s best for your team to go through the online course videos together in the same room, and let them complete certain quizzes and exercises individually, in their own time.

Choosing the right type of training for your team depends on many aspects, including what their training needs are, how they learn, what the goal of training is, your budget and how much time you want to spend on training.

4. Follow up after training sessions

You may think once you’ve trained your team, you can sit back and relax. Not quite. Once the training is done, the development of your team doesn’t stop. Continuity is key. Make sure you keep enabling learning, follow up training sessions with personal feedback (avoid mass feedback) and give your team extra responsibility following their training. You could create incentives to encourage your team to put what they’ve learned into practice.

By emphasizing continuous learning, you’re showing your team that their development is a priority to your organization. By following up training with new tasks, regular meet-ups or additional training, you’re avoiding the newly learned information falling to the wayside or getting buried by business as usual jobs. Using a cloud-based learning management system like the GoSkills LMS makes it easy to track and manage your team’s training over time.

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5. Don’t underestimate the power of informal training

It’s easily overlooked, but informal learning is estimated to make up to 75% of learning within organizations. It includes learning through self-reflection, learning from your colleagues, supervisors, and mentors and learning from reading articles and books. This is where investing in team building comes in as well, because the better your team gets along, the higher the chance of them learning informally from each other.

Focus on team building and cater to different learning needs to create a high performing team

Training your employees as a team encourages teamwork, increases productivity and creates positive relationships.

There’s no doubt about the fact you stand stronger together and ultimately can do more as a team than an individual in the workplace.

By following the five steps listed above to promote a learning culture in your organization, you’ll be in a better position to create a winning team. In summary, they are:

  • Focus on team building first and foremost
  • Find out how your team members prefer to learn
  • Offer different training methods to individuals in your team
  • Follow up after training sessions
  • Don’t underestimate the power of informal learning

Check out the GoSkills learning management system to find out how your team can learn together, or at their own pace, with bite-sized and interactive content.

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Sara Meij

Sara Meij

Sara is an online communications expert and former journalist. In her spare time she loves Latin dancing and getting outdoors to run, hike or mountain bike.

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