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Developing Your Team With Learning, Training, and Education - HRDQ

Developing Your Team With Learning, Training, and Education

It's easy for teams to get so bogged down in the day-in, day-out of necessary tasks that they can't look forward toward the future. Of course, monotony of this sort is a key ingredient in low morale, motivation, and retention, and it also doesn't bode well for teams and companies that need to stay on their toes and peer down the road in an ever-changing industry.

The assumption that training and education should only occur for new hires is something that separates successful companies from mediocre ones– the truth is, people need training, opportunities to learn and grow, and support throughout their careers.

In this article, we'll explore how team development can benefit your employees, your team, and your company, as well as outline the actionable steps to determining the best ways to foster development over time.

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The Benefits of Developing Your Team

Utilizing learning, training, and education to help your team develop can provide a long list of benefits for all parties involved– your individual employees, the team as a whole, and the company at large.

You'll find that investing in team development helps to unlock individual and collaborative creativity, helps support a more goal-oriented outlook, boosts camaraderie, and builds community.

Beyond that, team development can result in improved employee retention, as people are much more likely to stand by a company that is motivated to invest in their growth and give them the space to think creatively and critically. Considering that it's significantly more expensive to take on a new employee than to keep one, this is a compelling argument in its own right.

Team Development Session

Developing teams can also mean managers can delegate increasingly complex tasks to their direct reports, allowing them to free up more time for their most essential duties and even find time to take on additional value-adding projects. Employees are also benefited from their responsibilities growing over time– this can help them feel valued and appreciated, improve morale, and boost retention.

Finally, developing your team is also an essential part of planning for the future. There will always be some turnover in the office, and one day some of your most valuable employees will retire or move on to other opportunities. By investing in team development through learning, training, and education, you can identify high performers for succession planning purposes and cross-train employees to fill in for each other when necessary to maintain normal workflow.

How to Establish the Training Needs of Your Team

Perhaps the trickiest part of helping your team's development is to figure out where you should start. The first thing you will want to do is identify your team's developmental needs, start holding conversations with each team member about development, watch them perform their roles, and review and update their job descriptions on an individual level.

Though this might sound simple, the type of information you can gain from these simple tasks is impressive. You can hone in on the essential aspects of each team member's role and discover skill and knowledge gaps that can be addressed. As you continue to collect data, there's a good chance that you will notice a particularly glaring performance issue that impacts the entire team and therefore identify the best starting point for your team development program.

Leader Speaking With a Team Member

If your team doesn't have a performance management system already in place, this process can be particularly useful. It can be difficult at first to start trying to discover weak points and improve performance, as it can come off as critical of your team's competency and ability. However, you can frame the entire initiative as a positive opportunity for everyone to develop and grow together as a team.

Determining where the best places to begin are when it comes to team development doesn't have to end with your employees, either. There is always room to improve, no matter one's competency and career level, and managers can also benefit from appraising themselves and working to discover potential places for improvement.

Selecting Training Methods That Meet Your Goals

There are many different training methods you can choose from, and the right one will depend on the skills you're trying to improve, the knowledge you're working to build as a team, and the culture of your team.

For example, you might find that on-the-job training is highly suitable for improving literacy with a recently introduced software program. On the other hand, active training is likely a better choice when you want to improve collaboration and teamwork skills. Most managers will find that their teams are best suited by a combination of different training methods.

Team Discussing Training Methods

One popular model for creating training programs is known as the 70:20:10 model, which utilizes the following rule of thumb to best help teams develop:

  • 70% of learning occurs through experience
  • 20% of learning occurs through conversation with others
  • 10% of learning occurs through traditional training methods

It's worth noting that just because traditional training methods only take up 10% of the proposed training ratio, this doesn't mean that you can skip them altogether. Instead, they serve as the foundation upon which the other steps stand.

Essentially, people need to have the opportunity to learn about the new skills they are working to acquire through traditional training methods. From there, they can answer questions and increase their knowledge base by communicating with more experienced team members and managers, and finally, they can hone their skills through actual practical experience.

For more information about selecting and designing training programs, take a look at our recent posts about creating and allocating a training budget, keeping employees engaged and motivated during training, and collecting employee feedback during and after training.

How Communication Factors Into Team Development

Taking steps to help your team develop with learning, training, and education is excellent, but your success will ultimately rely on one essential component of the process: communication.

Leader Speaking With an Employee

Improving the lines of communication between management and employees can have a remarkably positive effect on team development over time. You might find that having one-on-one conversations with each team member in a relaxed way does wonders for growth and progress over time, offering space for issues to be identified and dealt with and new strengths to be discovered.

Is it time for you to learn more about your communication style? Do you believe your management team would benefit from assessing the methods they typically use to communicate with their teams? If so, make sure you check out our list of the top communication style assessment tools.

Strengthening Your Team Through Effective Delegation

It can always be nerve-wracking to hand over responsibility to other people for tasks and projects you have historically handled on your own. The reality is, though, that there is only so much one person can do, and effective delegation gives managers more space to focus on what is most important while also letting employees have the opportunity to gain experience and learn new skills.

If you feel that this is an area that you could explore with your team, the first step is to make a list of all of the most important tasks that you know your team has the potential to perform successfully. Prioritize them in order of importance, and start doling them out from the bottom up. This way, you can actively track the success and progress of team members and start working your way up to delegating higher priority tasks as they gain experience and prove their capabilities.

Leader Delegating Tasks

When first handing out new tasks, you'll want to carefully manage the process. At the beginning, ensure you provide all of the necessary resources, guidance, and support to ensure each team member has what they need to succeed. If individuals don't feel like they have what is required for them to complete the task, they can become reluctant to sign on for new tasks down the road.

Delegating doesn't only mean that team members have the opportunity to learn new skills and grow in their roles and responsibilities, but it also means that managers have the space to find new places to add value through their work.

Utilizing Team-Building Activities For Learning and Education

There are countless skills that your team could benefit from improving, but not all of these skills are best learned from a book. For example, you can read about the importance of teamwork all day long, but ultimately the best way for employees to learn how to effectively and fluidly work together is through practice.

That is where team-building activities come in. Not only are they a lot of fun for employees and managers alike, providing a welcome break from regular routines, but they also can be highly effective at helping you meet your training objective.

A Team-Building Activity

That being said, you don't want to use any old team-building activity. Instead, it's essential that you identify the challenges that you want to overcome and select the exercise carefully based on these goals.

Team building exercises come in all shapes and sizes, with some best suited for developing leadership or strengthening problem-solving and others encouraging creativity or helping to build a sense of community.

Identifying and Managing High-Performers

One of the things that will become clear quickly when you start implementing a team development plan is that some of your employees have skills, knowledge, and potential that previously went unrecognized. You'll find that some of your employees have specific talents that could be further developed with the proper attention in a way that would benefit them professionally and personally, as well as their ability to contribute to the team.

Through the information you gain from these training and development programs, you can also start designing talent development strategies and programs to help your company meet and exceed its goals.

Identifying and Managing High-Performers

This is also an essential aspect of team development because of its ability to be used as a part of succession planning. Great managers are always thinking a few steps ahead, and having a plan to ensure that the highest-performing team members can pass on their knowledge, skills, and experience to others before they say goodbye will help make the transition much easier and smoother.

It can also be beneficial to cross-train team members so that they are well-versed in the tasks and responsibilities of their co-workers. This is particularly important if each team member is working on a highly specialized set of tasks, as you could find that someone simply taking a sick day throws everything out of whack. Cross-training allows your employees to step up to the plate when one of their colleagues isn't available, and can also be a very useful tool for building relationships, fostering community, and building trust.

Development For Team Leaders

It's often said that a team is only as good as its leader. No matter how incredible your management team is, the best leaders always have the space to recognize that there is infinite room to grow and progress.

One of the first steps for improving one's leadership skills is to cultivate self-awareness into their own leadership style. That can help them identify their strengths and weak points, creating a list of areas where managers can focus their attention when it comes to their learning efforts.

Development For Team Leaders

If you're interested in improving your leadership skills or the leadership skills of your management team, you'll want to turn your attention in the direction of HRDQ's best-selling What's My Leadership Style management development tool, leadership style assessment, and training workshop.

By helping participants to quickly and accurately discover their preference for one of the primary behavioral patterns, managers can gain valuable insight into their current leadership style, help create a practical mental framework, and learn to capitalize on style strengths. Additionally, they can learn about effective methods of minimizing style trouble spots and even gain insight into how to tailor one's leadership style to the circumstance or individual.

This is an excellent opportunity both as a stand-alone training instrument and part of a more comprehensive program. You'll find that there are a wide variety of topics in which this leadership style assessment can be effective and valuable, including leadership, management, and supervisory skills training programs.

Do you have any questions about anything we mentioned in this article? If so, be sure to drop us a comment down below, and we'll get back to you within a day or two! We always do our best to ensure every comment receives a reply in a timely manner, and we'd be more than happy to assist you however we possibly can.

Recommended Training
Reproducible Training Library Complete Collection
  • Our complete collection
  • Both instructor-led and self-led learning
  • Virtual or classroom study
Learn more
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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.