Today, we will talk about the subject of how to train the project team members if they does not have adequate skill sets and therefore improve their skill level to accomplish the project.
1. Let the team be able to learn something
Skill training is the easiest to ignored by the project manager during the process of team building. Many project managers think that training is not so important. But actually, training becomes a key tool for maintaining the team from being out of date and even for keeping the team stable. In reality, many employees of the company quit the job just because they consider themselves not learning anything new from the projects. In this way, they would choose to leave due to the lack of their career development, which would cause the project team to be unstable.
On the other hand, training new members costs time and money, which would ultimately affect the quality and cost of the project, or even the satisfaction of the customer. Therefore, an excellent project team not only values skill training, but also keeps a good balance between accomplishing the project and the training.
Now let’s see how to plan and do a good training to the project team.
Here is a practical case which I have been through:
Several years ago, our company founded a new department, and I became the project manager of building the new department. At that time, the department and I are both poor and blank. I had to recruit every members all by myself. After several months’ effort, new team members were recruited gradually. When the number of team members became significant, it turned out that training all those members becoming more and more important. At that time, the time period of all the necessary training is an inevitable factor, and it is not relevant to the money you are going to invest. In other words, even if the management is willing to invest a large budget for the training, it would still take at least six months to finish the training.
And, it turned out that the result of a team’s training has everything to do with the leadership style of the team leader and how much time he’s willing to spend on the training. Regarding to my team, the development of training plan and the execution of the training is not straightforward, it took us a long time to optimize the training to be effective. Eventually we had successfully developed a training system which fits our team’s characteristic. By using this newly developed training system, the new members would all grow to be core member of the team, and they would also be able to adapted to the company and projects quickly, which would benefits their career development.
Through this type of team ability building, the result can be remarkable: every member’s skill level had been improved, the cost of the department’s internal expenditure had been lower and the work efficiency of the team had been improved significantly.
2. What kind of training is a good training?
The question is: how did we achieve that?
First, I factored the training into two main aspects:
1. Training genres
2. Training objects
Let’s firstly consider the training genres. There three types of training: system and procedure, tools and techniques, and ability.
Normally, there are few training regarding to system and procedure. If there is no big change of the company’s system or policies, this type of training can be performed either once every several months or once a year. If there was a new policy or a new standard regarding to project work was released, it would be project manager’s duty to learn and train the project team members. In case that they complain or panic someday because of the misunderstanding of the new policy.
Training of tools includes general tools training and professional tools training. General tools refers to software such as Microsoft Project, visio, office, and so forth. Professional tools differ from each industry/profession. If you were managing an IT project, professional tools includes database, programming language; if you were managing a machinery project, professional tools includes CAD.
Ability training focuses on improving the internal ability and the level of thinking. This type of training is most flexible. And it depends on the specific industry or knowledge field. For example, if you are doing a project about artificial intelligence or machine learning, then it would be much beneficial if the team members can learn about the new trends of this industry and most popular algorithm of neural net.
3. The trainer and trainees
The second aspect of training is the training objects.
Most people would think that the trainer should be the most excellent member of the team, or should be the one who’s in charge of the project. But that’s not always the case. Because a good training is also a good opportunity for improving the ability of the trainer. The reason is that in order to be fully prepared for a training the trainer would have to look up many materials and form a systematic knowledge field in his head, and repeatedly practice the speech, and so forth.
And for that reason, project manager would have to learn to empower the team by giving opportunity to specific team members to train other members. In this case, the project manager becomes one of the learners.
As for the trainees, it also should be carefully considered. A one-time training is not possible to target all members. Instead, it should be restricted to those whose work might get involved with the training knowledge, or those who are in specific work levels.
For example, engineers should learn how to write documents efficiently and also should master the professional skills of engineering; project manager should learn about leadership and master the methodology/knowledge body of project management, and so forth.
And of cause, an excellent training should have interactive sections like team discussion or Q&A section.
In summary, this article demonstrates why project team members need training in process of the project, what should be a good training and how to perform a good training.