Four Ways to Create a Successful Team and Improve Your Training ROI


Think back to your last on-the-job training or even back to your college days—what comes to mind? For many of us, there is at least one principle or concept that comes to mind as clearly as the day you first heard it. And often times, it’s no longer valid in your current environment.

But what’s important about that concept isn’t in the relevancy, it’s in the memorability. Of all the things you’ve learned in your lifetime, why does that one concept come to mind? Understanding how individuals learn is a field of study that continues to evolve, especially in today’s complex learning environment. It also feeds directly into what it takes to becoming successful teams.

For the past twenty years, our team has delivered experiential learning programs to every kind of organization you can imagine. Whether the industry is manufacturing, retail, banking or healthcare, or the function is sales, finance, operations or IT, there are a number of facilitation truths that we’ve found applicable across all verticals of an organization.

Steps to Building a High Performance Team:

Content matters – Show it off

 Quick Reference Card for the planning process. Whether live or virtual, your audience needs to not only apply what they are learning, but see the results it can deliver. Keep the material simple and the experience that surrounds it complex in order to build greater connections in the neural network. Outline a few simple points in the instruction but spend the lion’s share of the course exercising the learning in real or near-real simulations.

Furthermore, give participants a simple take-away summarizing the content on a single sheet of paper. We use a quick reference card (QRC) that outlines the FLEX CycleSM for our clients and over the years, we’ve had participants using these QRCs as much as a decade later. And in an increasingly paperless, virtual world, tangible materials can have an enormous lasting impact.

Shock and Awe – Surprise the learner!

Don’t be afraid to openly challenge pre-conceived notions and assumptions. It’s not just about the rationality and usefulness of the knowledge being transferred, it’s also about the emotional experience and how the learner engages with it. Use true stories to illustrate the value of the learning. Juxtapose the learning in action versus the failure to use it. Demonstrate how others that have used the learning have done so with great success.

Get active – move around

 The Afterburner Day team building seminar gets participants on their feet for better employee training ROIA desk or table and chair is a barrier to learning . . . so is a podium. Learners are too easily lulled into complacency, indifference, and apathy when shielded behind furniture. Movement increases blood flow which, in turn, increases reception and attention. Engagement with the facilitator and other students leverages the natural socialization of the learning and improves retention and engagement.

Overcome the fear of failure – make sure it occurs

Research demonstrates that our brains will attend to failures more than successes. Making the material easy doesn’t facilitate the attention and grit needed to fix the learning in memory so create an environment where it is safe to fail. Mix tough problems with tricky ones to challenge participants to leverage new learning in order to overcome those challenges in an environment where failure is not only safe, it’s probable. Set them up to fall for their own pre-conceptions and assumptions, then help them assess their performance unemotionally to highlight the learning.

Even in a world where content curation is becoming an overwhelming responsibility of learning and development professionals, how that content is delivered still matters—and may matter more than ever. In a universe of exploding content and growing noise, the quality of facilitation will be an ever more important mark of training effectiveness.