Training is key to any organization. Even though companies typically seek out well-educated and experienced staff, there are always requirements that individual companies have that just can’t be learned outside the organization—e.g., company policies, procedures, and culture. And, of course, changes in technology continue to require ongoing training for employees to ensure they’re up to date and adept with new tools and processes.
Too often, though, training efforts fail to achieve the results desired. One reason for this, suggests Chris Ward, in an article for CIO, is that training isn’t team-focused. While many companies employ training methods for groups of people, they are essentially training groups of individuals, as opposed to teams, he suggests. “All of the work that we do on a project is ultimately collaborative,” says Ward “and thus our training should be that way.”
Think about it: your organization is a team, not a group of individual employees working completely independently. It’s like a football team, where everyone has an individual role, but ultimately need to be effective collaboratively as a cohesive unit.
Here are some simple steps to implement this type of group-based, or collaborative, training.
Identify Your Teams
This may not be as simple as it sounds. While there are certain discrete, easily identifiable groups in most organizations (i.e., the Accounting Department), many companies are also very matrix-oriented and dynamic, where temporary teams might form across departments for specific tasks and short periods of time. Just because these teams aren’t permanent, though, doesn’t mean they can’t be identified and trained as a group.
Identify Crucial Team-Based Activities
Try to identify some specific group functions that are crucial to the team’s success. For example, maybe your marketing team needs to work as a group to conduct research for a market analysis. Or maybe your customer service group needs to efficiently triage customer calls. Identifying the drivers of success for each team will ensure that training efforts are focused on the right things.
Brainstorm Best Practices to Make Those Activities as Effective as Possible
Once you’ve identified the key functions your teams need to perform effectively, and the outcomes you’d like to achieve, it’s time to brainstorm some best practices for achieving those outcomes. These should be practices that can actually be practiced. For example, maybe there are best practices for performing market research and analysis as a group that you could teach your marketing department—maybe they’re practices that members of your R&D team are already adept at; they could play a role in delivering the training or sharing information.
Once you have your best practices, put them to use and train your teams on how to implement them. “Giving people the chance to actively learn and practice teamwork has the largest effect on their behaviors and performance,” says Iulia Alina Cioca in an article for Science of Work, “You can propose workshop-style exercises involving all team members, simulations of tasks that the team has to do, or even team reviews or debriefs on their real work together.”
Training is a crucial activity for any business, but too often it is focused on individuals instead of teams of people working together for a common goal. By implementing team-based training initiatives, your company can make great strides in pulling your teams together and making them more effective and efficient.