11 Types of Learning and Development to Empower Your Team
June 1, 2023
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Learning and development (L&D) has become a hot topic in the workplace, with 69 percent of companies increasing employee development due to its ability to empower employees and attract and retain skilled team members.
This doesn’t mean one L&D method is better; instead, you may need to use different learning strategies at various times and for specific reasons. Here are 11 learning and development initiatives you can use for professional development, employee training, and more to improve your program.
11 Types of learning and development
Almost every organization has an orientation process, whether it’s formal or informal. An orientation program is a set of activities that gives new employees information about the company. Think of it as the icebreaker between a new employee and the company that happens during the first week of being hired.
Orientation works to make new hires more comfortable in their role. A well-thought-out program includes items such as:
- Company mission and values
- Key policies and procedures
- Leadership team
- Orientation packet
- Benefit plans
An effective orientation program changes how quickly a new hire can take responsibility, be productive, and contribute to the team. It also allows them to meet co-workers, spend time with supervisors, and become familiar with the work environment.
Orientation is usually part of the greater employee onboarding process. When onboarding a new employee, you are acclimating them to the company through training sessions over time. Onboarding can last anywhere from a few weeks to 12 months.
What onboarding is meant to accomplish
Onboarding is often thought of as getting an employee’s paperwork in order to enroll in their benefits plan, have payroll set up, and sign off on the handbook. However, that’s an extremely limited vision of what onboarding can be.
Done well, onboarding helps integrate new hires into your organization’s culture and helps glue them to your company so that they will likely have a longer tenure with you. The best sales onboarding programs can improve employee retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent.
What to cover during onboarding
In addition to HR paperwork and initial training, onboarding should:
- Integrate new hires into your company culture
- Showcase available career opportunities so new team members are excited about their future
- Reinforce your organization’s internal branding and encourage brand loyalty among new team members
- Inform new hires about learning and growth opportunities
- Provide an overview of responsibilities and expectations
- Include necessary compliance training
Technical and soft skill development
Skill-building can future-proof an organization. Yet, 49 percent of executives are concerned that employees do not have the right skills for executive business strategy. A clear skill gap is emerging, as 76 percent of young talent believe learning is the key to a successful career.
L&D specialists are responsible for creating high-impact skills training programs that develop technical and soft skills—preparing employees to take their careers to the next level.
What are technical skills?
Technical skills involve using specific knowledge to perform tasks and use job-related tools. For example, technical skills include using CRM software, accessing and engaging with leads on social media, or knowing how to use specific sales materials.
Technical skills depend on an individual’s career path. But some examples of skills you can teach include:
- Content writing
- Data analysis
- Business Intelligence
How to develop technical skills in employees
Sometimes your organization will require specific technical skills before hiring a new team member, and other times these will be covered during training.
If your company teaches technical skills, there are a variety of methods you can use. The key is to cater to a wide range of learning styles and reinforce what you teach with consistent practice.
Start by assessing where your team members are in specific technical skills right now. That becomes the foundation you can build on. Once you teach new skills, tie them in with your employees’ interests and goals. When you show why learning these specific technical abilities matters, your employees will be more motivated and learn more quickly.
Many adult learners do best through hands-on experiential learning, but that doesn’t work best for everyone. You can mix eLearning modules with hands-on activities to address a mix of learning styles.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are focused on how people interact with each other. Having strong soft skills can help someone be a better team member, leader, communicator, and problem solver.
Some examples of soft skills to include in learning programs include:
- Conflict resolution
- Time management
- Interpersonal skills
How to develop soft skills in employees
Soft skills can be harder to train than technical skills simply because they have a lot to do with ingrained habits that we all develop throughout our lives. It’s also harder to measure whether someone is “good” at a soft skill because they are less concrete.
However, they are still essential. Some ways you can help employees develop soft skills include:
- Group and individual roleplaying exercises to practice giving and receiving feedback
- Teambuilding exercises
- Contests that involve cooperation instead of competition within the team
- Coaching on communication styles, phrasing, and tone
- An understanding of different personality types and the different approaches we each have
- Celebrating group accomplishments rather than individual ones
When you help your employees develop soft skills, they will be better able to adapt to various work situations. Unlike technical skills, soft skills can be applied in any situation.
Safety training comprises learning programs that teach employees the safety procedures and rules that keep them safe as they do their work. In a non-industrial setting, this can range from what to do in case of a fire to using proper ergonomics to reporting a slip-and-fall. These procedures are designed to lower the risk of serious injury.
How is safety training different from training included during onboarding and technical training?
Onboarding is designed to get new employees set up with benefits and payroll while also integrating them into your culture, and technical training helps them understand how to use the tools provided to do their job.
Safety training, however, is about the policies and procedures you have to keep everyone safe as they do that work. You may think of this as primarily an issue in industrial businesses, but even office employees lose days to injury.
For example, your employees might suffer migraines or carpal tunnel problems due to improper lighting or poor ergonomics. And everyone must know what to do in case of fire, severe weather, or an unforeseen emergency.
How you implement safety training depends on your industry, but it’s essential that employees feel safe at work and that your organization doesn’t lose productivity due to injured team members.
Best practices for safety training
How can you do safety training so that employees learn and internalize the procedures that keep them safe?
The first step is knowing what the hazards are in your work environment. Do people spend so much time on a computer that they might damage their eyes? Are they sitting properly in their chairs? Are desks optimized so there’s plenty of space to walk and no one is tripping over bags or personal items?
Next, create a process to minimize the danger of those hazards. You might have a rule about not keeping personal bags on the floor or providing glare-reduction computer screen covers to your team. You can review quarterly ergonomics and consider a different floor configuration as your team grows.
If you are regulated by a safety agency, make sure you meet all of the standards of that agency by more than the bare minimum. Show your employees they matter to your company by making safety a priority.
Finally, ensure all employees understand “What’s in it for me?” by regularly sharing the employee benefits of safety. When dangers are less obvious, it can be challenging, but you can make it personal to their situation and give examples of what can happen if something goes wrong.
Team building exercises foster better relationships between teammates and improve collaboration. Team building helps employees learn decision-making and problem-solving skills and empowers them to work together.
Topics you can teach during team training include:
- Building a positive environment
- Team collaboration
- Team productivity
- Motivating teammates
- Establishing healthy relationships
What is the purpose of team training?
The vast majority of the time, a team has to work together to achieve something that benefits the company. Team training helps employees work more effectively with others.
Team training has a variety of benefits. Employees can build relationships with others within the company, can become a vital part of the company’s initiatives, and advance their careers. The company benefits from higher employee morale and engagement, improved productivity, and more effective work projects with a higher likelihood of success.
How to accomplish team training
There are many ways to help teams bond and learn simultaneously. For example, you might create a cohort for each new hire group. They will bond with each other and the company as they learn your systems and process. Employees will motivate each other to improve and increase team members’ loyalty to the company.
You can also use team training to encourage the adoption of new processes, such as a new sales approach. Use existing sales teams or create groups, and then set goals for each learning module. You can offer prizes to the groups that reach the goals most quickly or effectively. This fosters competition between groups while encouraging cohesion within the team, so you get the benefits of both competition and teamwork.
Managerial training and leadership development is essential to set your managers—and their teams—up for success. In a study by Monroe Partners, 43 percent of new managers said they got no training at all, and half of those with 10 or more years of management experience said they’ve had nine hours of training total in their careers.
Unfortunately, untrained managers affect the entire company. They may not have the skills to manage employee conflict, provide effective coaching, or motivate staff. That means the team will likely lose its top performers, and the manager will drag the entire department down.
Effective management training can help your organization avoid these problems and create well-led, productive teams.
What is the purpose of managerial training?
The primary purpose of managerial training is to equip managers with the skills they need to lead their teams well. This includes learning how to have challenging conversations, coaching and motivating employees, and communicating and delegating to promote growth and resolve conflict.
Many new managers excelled at the technical skills in their previous job, which helped them get promoted. However, they may not have the soft skills or confidence to manage other employees. Training allows them to develop those skills and sets them up for success.
How to accomplish managerial training
Effective management training should start with an acknowledgment that new managers are often nervous about their roles. The first step is to congratulate them on their promotion and assure them that the company is behind them and ready to help them succeed.
To create your managerial training program, start by defining every manager’s core competencies. For example, these might include:
- Written communication
- Presentation skills
- Conflict resolution
- Time management and delegation
- Coaching and employee development
- Motivating teams and employees
- Promoting teamwork
- Managing corrective action
Then, determine how you’ll address each skill. Will you create an in-house training curriculum or use an external training company? You may also decide to include mentorship for new managers for their first six months or year. That way, they have an experienced role model who can help them understand what’s expected.
When you have a new manager, assess their current strengths and weaknesses. Then, give them the training and resources to learn the needed skills.
Offer constructive feedback throughout the new manager’s first year, and ask where they need additional support or training. You might discover aspects of managerial training that you’ve overlooked and can add to your program.
Effective managerial training will help you develop and retain your top leaders and team members. You never want to give someone a manager that makes them want to leave your company.
Customer service training
There’s no doubt that customer service makes a massive difference in a company’s bottom line. Excellent service lowers customer churn, increases upsells and cross-sells, and significantly boosts customer lifetime value. Training your customer service employees to provide excellent experiences is an investment with excellent ROI.
What is the purpose of customer service training?
The purpose of this type of training is to equip your employees to provide A-level customer experiences. Team members need to go the extra mile to support customers and help them see success with your company’s products and services.
Another essential part of customer service training is teaching your team to cross-sell and upsell related products effectively. This can improve deal sizes and help customers feel even more loyal to your brand and products.
What to cover in customer service training
A lot of customer service training is focused on soft skills, such as communication, sales, and problem-solving.
Here are some of the topics to cover in customer service training:
- Positive attitude toward customers
- In-depth training in the company’s products and services
- Active listening
- Saying no and offering an alternative
- Persuasive speaking and sales skills
- Excellent communication skills
- Managing your personal emotions and mental health
All of these skills will help your customer service reps exceed customer expectations in every interaction so that your organization can thrive.
Sales is one of the most critical functions in most companies, and all sales reps can improve their skills.
Sales enablement teams have the responsibility of refining the sales process and helping reps stay up to date on sales techniques and technology, which includes training.
Excellent sales training will improve close rates, increase deal sizes, and help maximize sales efficiency.
What is the purpose of sales training?
The focus of sales training is to help sales reps improve their approach to leads. This may include improving specific sales techniques like overcoming objections or managing leads that move backward in the sales process. It also includes helping sales reps understand and use technology like social media, social listening tools, and more.
Another focus of sales training is ensuring reps have an in-depth understanding of your products or services so they can match the solutions with the needs of each lead. Reps need to know where to find sales enablement content and how to personalize assets to each potential customer.
What does sales training include?
Initial sales training is often part of new hire onboarding. However, even after they are established in the organization, sales reps need to continue to improve their skills.
Sales training should cover skills like:
- Building rapport with potential leads
- Handling objections
- Understanding competitors and the industry
- Listening and communication skills
- Deeply understanding the company’s products and services
- How to evaluate and prioritize sales leads
- Social selling and social media skills
- How to use sales technology, from a CRM to social listening tools
When you have well-trained sales reps, you’ll have better revenue and growth in your business, along with lower turnover and frustration on your sales teams.
Mentorship is a specific type of training for employees that are looking to advance their careers. Mentorship allows team members that are more experienced to teach colleagues “the ropes” of a new role, new department, or leadership opportunity.
Creating a mentorship program can help motivate employees at every level. Senior team members often enjoy helping others grow, and it’s rewarding to have your experience respected and honored. Less-experienced employees benefit from real-world experience and advice from someone who’s been through the challenges they may face.
Why use mentoring?
Mentoring can give both mentors and mentees significant benefits in the workplace. Mentees have an opportunity to learn by watching and perhaps even doing, which helps them apply things they learn in live classes and online training.
Mentors also have opportunities to develop leadership skills, teach essential concepts, and showcase their skills to help others improve. Mentors find the process intensely rewarding, and it can improve employee engagement for both mentors and mentees.
How to implement mentoring in your organization
How can you create an effective mentoring program in your company? First, think about where mentoring can best benefit your organization. You can create a leadership mentoring program for leadership development, or you use mentoring in any department where high performers can help newer team members grow and improve.
Then, answer these questions:
- How often should mentor pairings meet? Should it be enforced or less formal?
- What activities should meetings include?
- What skills should mentors focus on demonstrating or teaching?
- Will there be homework for mentees between meetings?
- How will you gather feedback from mentors and mentees?
As you develop your program, allow for changes in response to feedback. It doesn’t mean you set up an ineffective program if you decide certain elements aren’t working. Overall, having mentorship is a huge positive for organizations and can help you attract and retain key talent, develop promising employees, and improve employee engagement.
Coaching training ensures that supervisors and managers can provide high-quality coaching to employees so they can grow and advance in their careers.
Effective coaching can be extremely beneficial for companies and important to employees. For example, companies with high-quality sales coaching can increase annual revenue by 7 percent, and as many as 60 percent of sales reps say they’re more likely to leave their job if their manager isn’t a good coach.
Training managers and supervisors to effectively coach team members can help the entire organization excel.
What is the purpose of coaching training?
Coaching training aims to help managers and supervisors effectively coach their team members. This can improve results for underperforming employees, help employees develop skills for new roles, and more.
Many leaders don’t have much experience or training in coaching when they become managers, which is why coaching training is so necessary. Establishing a coaching culture helps everyone perform better.
What should coaching training include?
What do you include in coaching training? Some of these skills are leadership skills that apply in other areas of management as well, while others are coaching-specific.
Coaching training should focus on the following areas:
- Assessing employee performance and skillsets
- Listening and communication skills
- Giving constructive feedback regularly
- Creating employee improvement and development plans
- Time management to ensure they make time to coach team members
- Diversity and bias training to avoid favoritism and unconscious bias
When your leaders are excellent coaches, everyone wins. Your organization will excel, your leaders will improve their confidence, and your team members will grow in their careers.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging training
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B) programs are an excellent way to positively address prejudices and biases within a workplace, according to a study about diversity training at the University at Buffalo’s School of Management.
What is the purpose of DEI&B training?
L&D pros are leading education in diversity, equity, and inclusion for organizations and taking complete ownership of DEI&B training. Over half (55 percent) of surveyed experts own or share the responsibility of the DE&I strategy in their organization. These programs help build a foundation of psychological safety for teams and give them opportunities to become more successful.
“DEI&B programs are a necessary commitment for companies to make sure their employees feel safe, empowered and like they belong. The sustained commitment and space for dialogue married with impactful training will help organizations make their employees feel included, empowered, and ultimately, like they belong.”
-Hanah Chang, Senior Manager, People & Culture, WorkRamp
How to accomplish DEI&B training in the workplace
Topics covered in DEI&B training include:
- Improving engagement amongst teams
- Counteracting unconscious bias
- Creating an inclusive environment
- Identifying sources of inclusion
DEI&B training can help to increase awareness about diversity within a workplace and enable team members to accept and appreciate differences among co-workers. This can create better employee communication and help build a positive work environment.
Build your own L&D strategy
From orientation and onboarding to team building and DEI&B training, all of these types of learning and development deserve a place within your organization. Prioritizing learning and employee development can future-proof your company, set employees up for success, and make team members feel like valued members of the organization.
Are you ready to create an L&D strategy? Find out how WorkRamp can help you prioritize learning and development. Contact us to request a demo.
Complete the form for a custom demo.
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Michael is a SaaS marketer living in Guadalajara, Mexico. Through storytelling and data-driven content, his focus is providing valuable insight and advice on issues that prospects and customers care most about. He’s inspired by learning people’s stories, climbing mountains, and traveling with his partner and Xoloitzcuintles.
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