Home » The Great Productivity Expansion » Taking a Varied Approach to Training » 5 Styles of an Effective Training Strategy

5 Styles of an Effective Training Strategy

For end users to successfully adopt a new technology, two things have to occur: They need to understand the value it provides in their daily lives and they need to change the way they work.

Easy, right? Not always so. Accomplishing these goals relies on sustained commitment to your adoption strategy by both instructor and user, and the understanding that each individual is unique in their learning style. A successful training strategy will offer users a variety of persistent and approachable opportunities to learn and fully adopt Office 365 technologies. Let’s review a few:

Group sessions

The most common type of live learning environment, group sessions tend to be broad in topic and can cover product overviews or updates, tips and tricks of using a certain application, or provide role-based best practices. Group sessions should be the undercurrent of your training strategy, but not the only method offered. Oftentimes, end users are shy or overwhelmed when first experiencing a new technology, and questions won’t arise until they’ve had time to interact with it on their own.  Group sessions can occur in person or via Skype for Business, depending on the geographic limitations of your users.

Best for: Training your sales team, who could never be described as “shy.” Group settings can be intimidating for those who don’t like to speak up. These types of sessions are ideal for high-level overviews of applications. You can also host sessions with recurring themes, i.e., “What’s new in Skype” one month, and “What’s new in Planner” the next.

Office 365 Group Session topic suggestions:

  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know Skype for Business Could Do
  • What is Teams, Anyway?
  • How to Stay Secure While Collaborating with Office 365

Just the two of us

One-on-one or small group trainings are effective at addressing specific questions users have about how the new technology or change in process affects them. To ensure that the questions aren’t redundant to what’s being covered in the larger group sessions, have users make an appointment for their training session in which they can provide a brief description of what they’d like to learn. Not only does this help you prepare for the training, but provides insight into what is or isn’t being understood by end users and allows you to craft larger training sessions in the future.

Best for: Everyone, though you may find that employees on teams like Operations or HR have unique use cases for specific programs and could benefit from a smaller setting where their questions are directly applicable for those people attending. This training style is ideal for showcasing applications that should be demoed to be fully understood, such as Microsoft Flow.

Any way you want it (any time you need it)

In addition to being available for live trainings, make sure you provide end users with access to on-demand learning guides, recordings of group training sessions, and a knowledgebase filled with how-to documents and FAQs. You can even add quizzes and polls to your training portal to engage users and encourage them to learn at their own pace.

Best for: The self-starter. You’ll find that those who use self-guided training materials tend to be curious individuals. However, be aware that some employees may use the on-demand guides simply because they don’t like to ask for help. If they don’t find the answer they’re looking for, they may become frustrated when sifting through material. Consider adding a link within the knowledgebase to give users direct access to training sign up and help desk support. This training style is ideal for providing overviews of all Office 365 applications from novice-level to expert, as well as featuring step by step guides to getting started with programs they wouldn’t have been exposed to outside of Office 365, such as Groups, Teams, Yammer or OneDrive for Business.

Office hours

Establish regular office hours for your team when end users know they can stop by to ask a question or receive additional help. Not only will this help to streamline the “drive-bys” of non-urgent questions your team may receive throughout the day, but it shows that you’re open to facilitate learning and helps build relationships between the IT team and the rest of the company.

Believe it or not, some end users may feel like they can’t “bother” the IT team and instead of coming to your trained experts with the question, they become dejected and resistant to using the program. Offering specific times that your team is available will encourage otherwise-reluctant employees to stop by, knowing that your door is open. Be sure to have someone available on Skype for Business during this time if you’re supporting remote employees.

Best for: You might be surprised who shows up. A new employee becoming familiarized with Office 365 is likely to ask their teammates if they have a simple issue. You may find that those who stop by your office hours are experienced team members who want to understand, for example, how to integrate a third party application with Office 365, or how to use a specific program with external clients on a new project. This training style is ideal for solving one-off problems or working through specific scenarios that wouldn’t be applicable to the general population of your employees.

“Brown bag” it

Hosting frequent “lunch and learn” sessions continues the persistent Office 365 training in a casual, friendly environment. You can highlight a certain topic or goal, or even provide demos for the audience. Lunch and learns can also be hosted by department leads and champion users with a focus on the ways that Office 365 is used specifically within their teams.

Best for: Individual departments who use tools in a similar way. For example, hosting a Marketing lunch and learn highlighting new ways they can use Planner on an upcoming campaign. Alternately, you could host a lunch and learn for a specific management level and show them how Delve provides insight into the productivity of their teams and if there are any opportunities for improvement. This training style is ideal for demonstrating how Office 365 applications (outside of the ‘standard stack’ of Office ProPlus) – such as Teams, Groups, Delve or Flow – can be used in their specific departments or roles.

Frequent and persistent training drives success

When you envision your training strategy, think both wide and deep. You want to ensure that you’re providing a mix of learning opportunities so that all styles are accounted for – from accommodating end users who prefer small group settings to those who wish to join a general update call once a month. Through an effective training program, your organization will understand and utilize the value of Office 365.

Training is a significant undertaking, but you don’t have to do it alone. Click here to test drive our expert Office 365 adoption services for 30 days, or fill out the form below to find out more about the best ways to train end users to promote Office 365 adoption.


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