Training is easily perceived as a chore by inhouse web teams, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 7 easily-implemented tips to make training fun and get your staff’s buy-in.
1. Buy them essential web books, videos or audio recordings. Create a mini reference library.
Many people are motivated to learn on their own, and enjoy self-study. By buying quality resources that your team can access, you’re helping them train themselves very affordably.
Compare the cost of a few good books or videos to the increase in traffic and conversion they can bring. Forget the stock market or bonds, self-education is the best investment you can make.
What’s more, if you invest in a few classics like Don’t Make Me Think, new additions to the team will be able to benefit as well. While a conference might help increase knowledge of a few team members, that typically won’t benefit the rest of the team. (It is possible, however. My fellow Quebec blogger Claude Malaison writes (in French) about organizations ‘building a collective memory‘ on his blog.)
2. Join your team members for group study sessions.
Joining your team for such study sessions shows a certain humility, and recognizes that you can learn from them as well.
As to group study, it’s value is borne out by the research. My mom’s got a masters in education and her thesis was about group work. One of the things she found out while writing her thesis is studies demonstrate that you remember 95% of what you teach others, but only 10% of what you read, which is why group study is so powerful.
3. Create contests. Pit teams against each other.
Training can be more than a responsibility, it can be a game. By making it a contest, the competitive spirits on your web team will find more motivation to learn.
As well, if your organization is large enough for it, you can pit parts of the web team against each other. This will encourage the stronger members of each team to help the weaker members improve their knowledge and skills.
Besides the main prize of bragging rights for the week, weekly winners might get to select Friday lunch (pizza vs souvlaki) and the monthly winners can pick an activity for the whole web team.
4. Recognize web team members for contributions to the business.
It’s worthwhile to test your team’s knowledge, as an intermediate goal. But ultimately the point is to help the business, so why not offer awards for “idea or improvement of the month”?
Give kudos to whoever contributed the idea generating the greatest conversion lift, or reducing the volume of support calls or boosting average order values etc. And you can make it a virtuous circle by making the award a new purchase of their choosing for the team’s reference library.
5. Give non analysts access to “read-only” analytics.
This way, people who’ve contributed to growing the traffic, conversion rate or other KPIs can login whenever and see the effects of their own work.
Craftsmen get to see feel and see the results of a job well done, and cooks get to eat their own food.
Shouldn’t your team get to see the effects of their work?
6. Build relationships with 1-on-1 time.
Spend time talking to team members individually over coffee or lunch, especially outside the office. People are more willing to help/listen if they like you.
It also means they’re more likely to bring up problems they’re having, since you’ll be more approachable. You get more bang for your training buck as a result. Compare that with the large numbers of high school graduates who read at a fifth grade level to understand what I mean…
7. Make the experience interactive and social.
No, I’m not referring to social media. I mean, social interaction like in the offline sense of speaking to someone 1-on-1.
Check out this video which my friend Chris Silver Smith filmed of me using it at SMX Advanced ’09, and the audience’s enthusiastic response.
While Twitter search won’t let me dig up the tweets that got, take it from me that the feedback to that was very positive.
The bottom line is that training your web team doesn’t need to be drudgery, doesn’t need to be a chore. You can make it fun and enjoyable if you use the right techniques and the right motivation.