Knowing about the latest and most effective training ideas can help you choose and develop the best training programs for your team.
Training is essential, whether you’re onboarding new employees or want to help current team members develop new skills.
In this article, we’ll cover the most effective training ideas and industry training standards, including specific types of employee training and development programs to choose from. We’ll also provide tips to help you get the greatest return from whatever training course or program you use.
The skills your team needs
Two main groups of skills can help your team: soft and hard skills.
- Soft skills are interpersonal skills that help your employees work better as a team. These include time management, conflict resolution, and communication skills. Many soft skills can help improve your work environment and limit or even eliminate problems among co-workers.
- Hard skills, which include technical skills, are specialized skills employees use to complete specific jobs. They can vary widely depending on your industry but could include programming, social media, accounting, and using certain types of software.
Now that we understand what kinds of skills teams need, let’s discuss the different training opportunities available.
On-the-job (OTJ) training
Training doesn’t have to be complicated—it can be done right on the job. We provide some examples.
You already have a team of experienced people at your fingertips—why not use them to set an example for new hires?
Pair your newest employees with those with experience, high technical skill level, and good communication skills. This creates a low-pressure environment where new team members can observe and ask questions over a set period. Provide basic training tips to the accomplished employees to maximize the effectiveness of the experience.
This method is especially helpful if your new hire is transitioning to a new role, allowing them to adjust to your company’s culture, routines, and procedures.
Mentoring is a little bit like shadowing. The key difference, however, is that it involves more one-on-one coaching and encouragement.
In this process, your new hire isn’t simply observing someone’s day-to-day actions; they’re receiving individual guidance and support. This is particularly useful for team members who want to develop specific skills or advance their careers.
In job rotation, team members regularly move between different positions or departments within the company.
This method gives everyone a broader perspective and appreciation for how each role contributes to the larger picture. It also allows individuals to learn new skills and expand their knowledge of basic operations.
Job rotation is especially useful if you have a team wanting to develop their careers and maintain an upward trajectory within your company. The flexible workforce provides a good cushion for the company as well, with employees able to backfill for each other.
Professional strategies and technologies are constantly evolving. Classroom training—both in person and virtual—can help your team keep pace with these developments.
Instructor-led training involves bringing in a specialized instructor to lead all your team members in an instructional training session.
This can be done in person with an on-site instructor or remotely using video conferencing and other online tools.
These types of training programs promote an interactive learning environment that promotes employee engagement. Plus, instructors can tailor each program to the needs of your team, answering questions and adapting to their learning styles.
A popular example of this is Cisco’s Networking Academy. Cisco offers several instructor-led courses, boot camps, and certification programs in data science, networking, programming, cybersecurity, and more.
Depending on the provider, companies can find virtual or in-person learning opportunities at various locations.
Online learning, sometimes called e-learning, delivers specialized education through online training materials, webinars, and videos. Employees can log in and complete courses at their own pace.
This training method is one of the more flexible options, allowing for self-paced learning from anywhere in the world at any time. All employees need is a reliable internet connection.
That’s one reason this method is among the more popular training strategies, with new programs constantly appearing. The largest online learning platforms include LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, and Coursera.
Experiential training is a more hands-on method than traditional training models. Let’s look at a few effective training ideas for experiential training to see how they work.
Simulation training puts your team members in mock situations where they can develop and practice their skills. You can do this virtually or in person. Some companies even set up physical simulations, such as disaster drills, to model a real-life, high-stress situation.
These simulations allow your team to experience a realistic environment where they can safely practice the skills and procedures they’ve learned.
This method is widely used in several large industries, including flight simulators for pilots and medical simulations for health care professionals.
Role-playing is a kind of simulation where team members act out various scenarios. This puts employees in situations where they can practice their communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills—all in a safe and controlled environment.
Role-playing is a great training method for team members in customer service or conflict resolution applications.
Removing people from their normal environment can be a good way to stimulate their brains for learning. And that’s the premise behind outdoor training. It gets your team members outside the traditional office environment and helps them relax.
Outdoor training is ideal for team-building exercises or problem-solving challenges. The experience could involve something as simple as hiking or doing rope courses as a team. You could also do something more complex, such as an obstacle course or scavenger hunt.
This allows your team to develop critical communication, leadership, and teamwork skills. The unique approach makes it an especially memorable and powerful experience.
If your team is remote and scattered over a large distance, this might be more challenging—but well worth the effort. Many companies schedule team meet-ups to participate in physical outdoor activities.
Internship or apprenticeship
Internships and apprenticeships are professional learning opportunities that offer meaningful and practical on-the-job experience.
This is especially helpful for those with little to no professional experience or those who have only studied industry theories. The hands-on training gives them real industry experience while also giving your organization relatively inexpensive temporary team members. Some interns and apprentices go on to become full-time employees.
Both models combine the basic principles of shadowing and mentoring to provide a full spectrum of training. It’s a balance between nurturing interest in the industry and developing specific job-related skills.
Who doesn’t love a good game? Games create sensory experiences and can make learning easier.
That’s why many learning management systems (LMS) offer gamification features, such as points, badges, and leaderboards. These features foster healthy competition, encourage engagement, and create motivation.
Gamification is especially helpful in the customer service and sales industries. In these instances, employees need to have extensive knowledge of their products and be able to answer customer inquiries confidently. Companies can ensure successful outcomes by gamifying the information employees need to remember.
If you want a truly expert team, training can’t be a one-and-done endeavor. It needs to be an ongoing process. We provide a few types of ongoing training programs that can help.
Professional development refers to continuing education and career skills training for people in their chosen profession. This type of training helps employees develop new skills, keep their fingers on the pulse of current trends, and advance their careers. This keeps your entire team working to their full potential and helps them feel more fulfilled in their roles.
It also helps your team upskill—a practice where employees build on their existing skills and competencies. This has become even more essential as new digital technologies transform the work landscape for many industries. Upskilling also benefits the entire company, allowing employees to take on new duties and contribute to the company’s growth in new ways.
A few professional development options you can offer as an employer or team manager include:
- Tuition reimbursement allows employees to pursue certificates and degrees at higher-learning institutions.
- Online courses, like those on Udemy, allow employees to log in and take them at a convenient time and place.
- Professional development seminars provide opportunities for employees to learn during work hours, such as “lunch and learn” programs, where company or industry experts speak on various topics.
- Executive development programs help managers enhance leadership skills and interact with leaders from other organizations.
Coaching and feedback
If you want your employees to progress and grow in their various roles, you must nurture their development. Regular coaching and feedback are great ways to do this.
Coaching and feedback work best in one-on-one settings, such as meetings between employees and their team managers. Examples include performance evaluations and goal-setting sessions, where managers can focus on each employee’s needs.
This is a solid strategy for companies of all sizes—and for good reason. Coaching helps employees understand their strengths and weaknesses through the lens of management. It also guides them on specific ways to improve and grow their skill set.
With cross-departmental training, employees can grow by learning about and working with other departments within a company.
This rotational training is especially valuable since it helps teams understand how different departments work together. It also promotes the development of new skills and knowledge that can serve them well in other roles.
As one article on the subject put it, “Rotational training can be a great way to identify and develop leaders within your organization.”
Cross-departmental training can come in various forms. You could encourage job shadowing, job swapping, or interdepartmental collaboration, where people work together across several teams on a specific project.
General training tips
No matter what training methods you implement, a few useful elements exist. We provide a few basic training principles to remember as you train your team.
When it comes to retaining new skills and ideas, repetition is essential. Training sessions that repeat or review information can help reinforce knowledge and prepare your employees to use it.
See one, do one, teach one
This method incorporates shadowing and repetition, with the added element of leveraging new learning. The individual watches an experienced performer complete the task, then tries it with the expert watching and coaching.
Finally, the trainee becomes the trainer, able to explain the process to another learner. The method is often used in health care surgical residencies, as well as manufacturing operations.
Many trainers and instructors say that the best way to learn something really well is to teach it. This results partly from self-teaching in preparation for training others and also from hearing questions new learners have and investigating to find the answers.
The practice can be incorporated into other training methods by having learners teach concepts under the watchful eye of the instructor.
Just-in-time (JIT) training focuses on the needs of the moment. Instead of teaching skills ahead of time, this concept is about providing professional training as needs arise. This promotes the most efficient use of resources and reduces waste.
With JIT training, learners have the opportunity to put their training to use immediately, reinforcing what they’ve learned and providing very effective embedding of concepts.
This type of training is commonly used with healthcare professionals. This training gives nurses and other healthcare workers quick access to critical information, such as drug dosage and side effects, facility procedures, and best practices for rare medical situations.
Instead of learning these facts and procedures months ahead of time and struggling to remember important details, many use just-in-time training to ensure that their teams will be able to use and retain the information. This could be in the form of online courses, microlearning videos, or quizzes right at the beginning of a shift.
Everybody has different learning styles. Understanding and implementing these various styles can improve the effectiveness of your training programs.
We cover some learning styles to keep in mind.
- Visual learners learn through sight. The best methods to teach visual learners include charts, diagrams, pictures, and symbols.
- Auditory learners learn through listening. Lectures and discussion groups are great for this learning style.
- Read/write learners learn through reading and writing. To address the needs of this learning style, use textbooks, glossaries, and notes in your training. Rereading and rewriting notes can help with skill and knowledge retention.
- Kinesthetic learners learn through doing. Real-world examples, labs, and tutorials are the best route for these learners. The more senses you can incorporate into the lessons, the better—meaning sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing.
Of course, many of these learning concepts were originally developed to motivate children to learn. As adult learners, however, your team will be much more self-motivated and self-directed in their learning.
As long as they can see the immediate benefit of the information and how it applies to their current career trajectory, adult learners are more likely to benefit from training programs.
But even considering an adult’s drive to learn, it’s still a good practice to consider everybody’s individual learning preferences. Using a well-rounded program that addresses a variety of learning styles helps everyone to get the most out of the information.
Assessment of learned skills
Assess your employees’ skills using a standard test format, rubric, or demonstration incorporating the skills they’ve learned. Administering the same test before and after training can validate understanding of the training content. Setting up skills assessments can help you measure the success of the programs you use—and see if you need to make changes.
It can also show you what competencies your employees possess, including their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing this can help you place your employees in appropriate roles based on their skills.
Hire professionals to develop and manage your employee training programs
Training your team does more than just add to their skills and knowledge. It can also improve your overall work environment, including your company culture and the level of job satisfaction your employees feel.
But where do you find an effective training program? Upwork can help you with this. We invite you to hire professionals on Upwork to develop training programs as unique as your company and employees.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this article. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.
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