How to Train for Agility and a ‘One Team’ Culture

Any business that wants to anticipate changing circumstances and act with agility needs high-performing, multi-skilled teams. If you consider that, ‘the only constant is change’ then seamless adaptability is key if you’re going to meet challenges head on and continue to give customers the consistency they crave.

Any training that takes place in an organisation has one purpose and that is to take the business forward. Training will mainly be needed:

  1. Where a skills gap is identified within the business to deliver the business plan
  2. Where a training need has been identified for personal development, usually from the individual’s review, but again fulfilling the business plan

The question then is ‘how should this training be delivered?’ Should it be focussed on individual team members or on the team as a whole? In my view the nature of the training need will determine the choice of training vehicle. It will usually be a blend of both.

Training the individual

If you have ‘one right way’ to do every task in your business and that one right way is written down (or videoed) as a step by step guide, it provides a solid platform where people can be trained on a variety of tasks. This ability to quickly change between tasks means the business continues without hitch when hit by the unexpected. It runs in a spirit of co-operation to get the job done.

This sort of training will usually be carried out in the workplace on a one-to one-basis and has several benefits:

  • Lets people learn at their own pace
  • Encourages the trainee to speak up without fear of embarrassment
  • Enables the trainer to provide individual attention
  • Validates learning by ‘tell show do’ focussed on one person
  • Consolidates learning by doing the job
  • Allows for easy review of trainee progress and effectiveness of the training
  • Avoids ‘sheep-dip’ training, saving time and money.

Team training

Training the whole team including their manager has many benefits. As well as the direct benefit of the subject matter (which should be relevant to all and business focussed) there are many indirect benefits:

  • Everyone gets the same message
  • Everyone feels involved and valued
  • Potential for cross-fertilisation of ideas
  • Great opportunity for team-building and bonding
  • Encourages a learning culture.

This is equally important if not more-so for the management team. Training the management team as one unit:

  • Focuses on the larger business outcome, the big picture
  • Reinforces ‘we are all one team’
  • Builds bridges and bonds
  • Discourages mini fiefdoms where knowledge can be protected.

Cross team training is not always used by those larger organisations who like healthy competition between their teams. Keeping small teams in tight units and training them together can build really strong bonds which can have advantages. But personally I prefer co-operation. The downside of the tight knit team comes if it loses sight of being first and foremost part of the business.

If everyone wants what’s best for the business and everyone’s job is customer service then working together in a spirit of co-operation is the way forward. If you want flexible teams with people switching to where they’re needed then you cannot have people protecting their kingdoms. Training as a team, as one business can benefit that culture of learning and co-operation and lead to success.

Do one thing: re-visit your training plan and check:

  1. Is it business driven?
  2. Is it the right type of training?

(Don’t have a training plan? Then take a look at your team and routine tasks; do you have enough people with the skills for an agile business?)

Thanks for reading 🙂


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Marianne Page

Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)


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