How to organize effective training sessions for big teams
What’s your company’s most valuable asset?
For virtually every organization, the answer is employees. To that end, it’s vital for companies, irrespective of size, to invest in their employees’ professional growth. One of the ways organizations can enhance their employees’ growth is through training.
Training not only helps employees grow professionally; it’s also an effective way to keep them motivated and productive.
Studies show that 40% of employees leave their employers within their first year due to poor job training. Training a small team is often deemed a piece of cake.
However, the same cannot be said for a large team.
Training large teams of 15+ people often present problems due to many factors, including the diversity of the learners, dispersed workforce, and technology issues. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at these factors and explain how organizations can ensure that in such situations, everyone is participating.
Why Training Big Teams Is Challenging
As mentioned, training big teams is often a great challengeto facilitators. Here, we will deep dive into the reasons why this is so challenging and provide possible solutions organizations can implement to ensure maximum engagement and participation.
1. Global Workforce, Cultural Differences
Large-sized organizations often have employees from different cultures and ethnic groups. Diverse cultural perspectives can foster creativity and drive innovation. However, it can also create challenges for training managers as the team to train gets bigger.
Facilitators and training managers have to consider not only cultural issues but also language. Plus, different regions have different learning styles, and what might be viewed as a successful training session in one country might fall flat in another.
Training managers should take into account their potential learning audience and develop resources that are not only multicultural but also multilingual.
It’s also important to consider the method of delivery. You’ll find that some cultures favor an individual approach while others prefer group collaboration.
2. Different Generations in the Same Workforce
In a large organization, you’ll likely find all generational cohorts—from baby boomers and Gen X to millennials and Gen Z—represented.
Having a multigenerational workforce yields a stronger pipeline of talent. It also drives creative solutions to problems. However, this also creates training challenges for training managers and facilitators of big teams.
Indeed, each generation brings a unique taste and preferences for learning. This makes it hard for trainers to develop a training program that suits everyone’s training preferences. As an example, your training will likely be less effective if you assume all employees are equally tech-savvy.
Baby boomers, for instance, would prefer more in-person learning and interactions. Gen-Zers, on the other hand, are tech natives and would opt for e-learning or live training sessions via teleconferencing tools.
So,what you need to do is perform a thorough needs analysis that focuses on identifying the training preferences of your learners. Use your findings to inform your training style.
Also, incorporate different content formats, like videos, podcasts, graphics, and written notes, to cater to different learning preferences.
3. Dispersed Workforce
Many organizations, particularly those with more than 20 employees, are increasingly adopting hybrid working models.
The hybrid working model combines remote working with on-site working and gives employees the freedom to choose where and when they want to work. This working model provides job satisfaction while giving employees the work-life balance they cherish.
However, a dispersed workforce often presents challenges to trainers, as it can be difficult to facilitate training where some employees are remote and others in-office.
With a remote workforce, in particular, training can be tricky. Misunderstandings can arise, cultural differences may get in the way, and concentration can be a problem.
Then, if you have this opportunity, communicate the training during in-person meetings and clarify your training goals. All employees should know exactly what is expected of them during the training and how the training will impact their jobs.
You could request all members to be physically present on that particular day to have a single, unified class. Alternatively, use collaborative tools to unify your dispersed team and give them the possibility to get information asynchronously.
4. Lack of Engagement
Employee engagement is important on three levels: emotional, cognitive, and behavioral. Without all three in place, there will be challenges in learning.
With a dispersed workforce in large organizations, it can be difficult to foster behavioral learning. Learners can learn a lot from their trainers’ body movements.
And when the training feels boring and irrelevant, most learners emotionally and mentally “check out” and resist engaging.
Trainers can implement practical learning activities like icebreakers, role plays, scenarios, and case studies into their training. These activities can engage employees both on site and remotely in active problem-solving, preventing them from losing concentration and promoting engagement.
5. Training Costs Can be Prohibitive
For a small business with less than ten employees, training costs tend to more manageable. But for larger organizations with some staff overseas, training costs can be prohibitive.
Facilitation, venue hire, equipment, and the cost of employee time can make training expensive. In many cases, the training budget tends to be small. Adding travel and accommodation expenses for overseas employees can further strain the budget.
Switch to online training. Online training removes the need for travel and accommodation that eats up the training budget. Make sure to use a cost-effective, high-performing platform or system if you’re training many employees.
How to Prepare to Train a Big Team as a Facilitator
Training a large group of employees (15 – 50) can prove difficult as you’re likely to encounter one or a few challenges discussed above. However, you can remedy some of these challenges by preparing yourself adequately.
Here are some preparation tips to help you nail your training with fewer to no challenges.
1. Match Different Learning Options and Preferences
One of the biggest mistakes trainers make is to assume all employees have the same learning preferences. As mentioned, today’s workforce consists of 4 generational cohorts: Boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z.
While millennials might be tech-savvy or able to navigate through various online platforms, boomers might not be appeased by training conducted via videoconferencing platforms. And technology isn’t the only thing that separates learners’ preferences.
Some people just feel overwhelmed by too much video or text. Such people would prefer in-person training over a live training session.
As a facilitator, the first thing you should do in your preparation is to identify your learners’ learning preferences. Next, use a combination of training methods that will satisfy them. You could also design programs that combine text and video elements to satisfy various learning preferences.
2. Use Tools That Serve Remote Workers
As mentioned, large organizations often face problems training a dispersed workforce, particularly those working remotely.
Today’s hybrid working environment demands training designed to serve remote and in-office workers. To achieve this, you’ll need a quality, high-performing collaborative environment for ongoing training of your dispersed workforce.
3. Gamify Learning to Boost Engagement
Trainers often face engagement problems, especially when conducting live sessions.
Gamifying your training can help draw your learners’ attention and make them fully participate in the training. You could build in awards, create a peer setting, change the format of complex lessons, or even add avatar login features.
Gamified learning sessions can bring excellent results to your learner’s development. Why not incorporate them into your training program to keep your learners engaged for an extended period? When learning becomes a play, it changes from a chore to a fun activity.
4. Make Learning More Flexible and Accessible
Today’s employees are busier than ever. Making time for learning can be difficult when juggling between in-office tasks and maintaining a work-life balance.
Fortunately, e-learning platforms have become a viable option for busy employees. They can save learners from confusion while allowing them to access training materials anywhere and anytime, asynchronously.
A platform that is accessible from any device (desktop, mobile or tablet) will also allow your employees to access learning materials on the bus, while waiting in line at the bank, and anywhere else outside the business premises.
How Can You Make Employees Participate at 100% in Your Big Team Training?
Whether or not the employees will participate depends on how well you prepare the sessions and structure your training. Here are a few tips to encourage maximum participation.
1. Set Expectations
Employees are more likely to participate if they know the expectations.
What’s expected of them after the training? Will there be quizzes, exams, or job promotions? Having a concrete objective in mind can help them remain focused throughout the training.
To foster participation, you could also just ask them to set goals themselves for their training. Then at the end of the training, include a feedback session asking if those goals were met, with several possibilities available to help the learner if they were not met.
2. Give a Variety of Interactive Activities (Quizzes, Surveys, Tests, etc.)
Include engaging activities that will keep all their eyes and minds glued to the course.
Avoid boring lectures. Spice up your training with interactive activities like quizzes, surveys, tests, games, and more. You could also use fun videos and interactive scenarios to inspire your learners to think critically and ask questions.
Interactive learning opportunities like podcasts, challenges, and e-learning games can also do the trick. This will engage your employees more because they are actively participating and getting something out of the online training.
3. Offer Regular Feedback and Awards
Want to motivate your employees to complete the training? Give them regular feedback.
Why does feedback work? Feedback helps learners gauge how well they’re doing and which areas they might need to revisit to improve their understanding of the subject. For best results, incorporate quick awards. For instance, you could award those who pass with badges or allow them to move to the next chapter or level of the course.
4. Use a Mobile-Friendly collaborative tool
Wondering how to motivate busy employees?
Make learning convenient and easy for them to access. There are two ways to do this: first,invest in a mobile-friendly platform or LMS (Learning Management System) compatible with both Android and iOS. This will allow your learners to access the course material anywhere and on any device.
Secondly, employ microlearning best practices when designing your training material. This can be an effective way to motivate employees to take the course because it makes training quick. In this approach, learners consume bite-sized chunks of information when they need it. Less hassle, more engagement.
5. Provide Flexibility
In the past, training was conducted by inviting learners to a specified location where they could attend the sessions in person.
This was done on the trainer’s schedule; anyone who wanted to attend could only access the course materials at that time. This is called a “push” model of learning as opposed to the “pull” model employed in today’s learning.
In the pull model, information is readily available for learners to access it anywhere, anytime. This learning model allows employees to learn at their own speed, which removes the excuse of not having time to learn. It can be achieved through the appropriate digital tools.
It’s no secret that training a big team presents a challenge to facilitators. This could be due to a number of reasons, including cultural differences, different generations in the same workforce, dispersed workforce, and lack of engagement.
Training managers can overcome these challenges by using tools that serve remote workers, gamifying the training, making learning more flexible, and matching different learning options and preferences.