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Training Team Members & Stakeholders: 8 Vital Disciplines to Ensure they’re Well Trained

Training Team Members & Stakeholders: 8 Vital Disciplines to Ensure they are Well Trained

Project Managers don’t often think about training… except maybe as a project deliverable. Yet, it is a part of your responsibility to ensure your team members and your stakeholders are properly trained.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) recognizes this. Their PMP certification (Project Management Professional) includes the requirement to understand how to ‘ensure team members/stakeholders are adequately trained’. This means they consider this skill a part of the requirement for a professional project manager.

Hang on a moment… ‘adequately trained’? Let’s not set the bar too high, eh!

Anyway, I digress.

This Article is a Primer of Team and Stakeholder Training

Training Team Members & Stakeholders: 8 Vital Disciplines to Ensure they are Well Trained

It will serve to introduce you to the elements of training. And I have structured it into what I consider the eight essential disciplines for creating good and effective training.

Note that, in writing this, I am focusing on the kind of professional and managerial skills you are likely to need to cover. Much of my advice is also relevant to other types of training, like manual skills. But, as that is outside of my direct experience, I cannot warrant its precise correctness.

So, what are the 8 disciplines?

  1. Assess Requirements: Create a Training Needs Analysis (TNA)
  2. Set Your Training and Development Objectives
  3. Review Training Options: Create Your Program Design
  4. Budgeting and Resourcing: Set your Training Program Budget
  5. Scheduling: Create Your Training Schedule
  6. Consolidation: Create Your Project Training Plan
  7. Implementation: Design and Deliver Your Training
  8. Evaluation and Follow-up: Measure and Enhance Your Training Outcomes

Assess Requirements: Create a Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

Before you can even set your objectives, you need to assess your training requirements. You might reasonably view this as part of your Human Resources Management Plan. In our article, Complete Primer on the 6 Themes of Project Human Resource Management, we included Professional Development under the Theme of Individual Management.

But in this article, let’s go a lot deeper.

Types of Capabilities or Competencies

First of all, you need to think about the competencies you will need. These will be both:

  • Knowledge (know that) and Skills (know how)
  • Specific (to a particular role) and Transferable (useful in many roles)
  • Hard (technical) and Soft (people-related)
  • Narrow (project) context and Broad (organizational or industry-wide) context
  • Certified (with formal evaluation) and Uncertified (informal or no evaluation)

So, set the context and assess what requirements your project will place on your team members and stakeholders.

Now you need to carry out a gap analysis. What knowledge and skills do your team members and stakeholders already have in these areas? That gap will expose the development or training needs.

And we bring this all together into a Training Needs Analysis (TNA).

A Simple 4-Step TNA Process

This article cannot give you a detailed guide to the process of training needs analysis. But I think it will be helpful to offer you a simple framework.

Step 1: Desired Outcomes

Start by reviewing what you need to achieve – both as a:

  • big picture – the overall team capabilities and stakeholder needs that will serve the project
  • detailed picture – specific needs of idividuals and indicvidual project roles

For team members, this means having the capabilities to deliver the project in an optimum way – balancing the needs for pace, quality, efficiency, and safety.

For stakeholders, you need to think about how they will interact with your completed deliverables. Often, the benefits your project is able to deliver will depend on this. Consequently, you need to think about training users and other stakeholders to work with the products of your project, in the way the designers intend.

Step 2: Data Gathering

Now assess the current levels of capabilities across your team and among individual team members and stakeholders. Work across all the different types of capabilities we listed above.

Step 3: Analysis

What are the gaps between your project’s requirements and the capabilities your team and stakeholders have? Once you know this, you can start to review potential strategies for filling the gaps.

In the third of our eight disciplines, we will see the different ways to deliver training and development interventions. But, in your TNA, you will consider whether there are strategies that will allow you to fill gaps without the time and cost of training. These include ideas like:

  • re-deployment
  • hiring, contracting, or borrowing staff
  • workarounds
  • pre-built solutions

Other aspects to consider in your TNA are timing and priorities. Timing first: when will you need each of the capabilities you are missing. Ten, prioritize your training needs based on importance, size of the gap, and urgency.

Step 4: Report

Document your training needs analysis, and present it to your sponsor and maybe your steering group or project board. They will, of course, ask about things like cost and schedule. You will address these with two of the others of our 8 disciplines.

Set Your Training and Development Objectives

Once you have your TNA complete, you can set your Training Objectives. What do you need to achieve through your project’s training and development program?

This will be important, because it will help you answer some of the questions you will have in designing your program, such as:

  • the depth of training
  • whether certification or formal assessment is worthwhile
  • what delivery options may be most successful
  • how much budget to invest

T-shaped People, T-shaped Team

One of the terms you will increasingly hear is the concept of T-shaped People and a T-shaped Team. These may well figure in your objectives. So, here is a short explanation of the terms.

Review Training Options: Create Your Program Design

How will you deliver the training you need? For each requirement in your Training Needs Analysis, consider which of your training options will work best. Take into account the efficiency of delivering the training, cost, and effectiveness.

Here is a list of common training delivery options:

  • Live Class
    Instructor-led training in a real-world environment. There are a wide range of models for this, based on delivery style, location, and class size, for example. For many years this was the basis of my own training business.
  • Online, or virtual class
    This is also instructor led training, but online. Again, there are various models and it can use a variety of training tools. This has become a big part of my own training business, since the onset of the Covid pandemic.
  • Recorded online training
    This mirrors instructor-led training, but has been adapted to a pre-recorded format. It allows learners to access the material at the pace and times that work est for them. This is how I developed the OnlinePMCourses content.
  • Seminars and Informal Learning Events
    Activities like workplace seminars, peer-learning, show and tell, and lunch-and-learn can create a lively atmosphere and allow people to learn in small, bite-sized chunks.
  • Genuine e-Learning
    Uses a variety of methods to impart knowledge using online course content.
  • Guided self-study
    Prepare a set of reading, audio, and video materials for learners to follow. This is often supplemented with exercises and activities. I have used this approach successfully, alongside online worshops to review learning.
  • Simulations and gamification
    A range of companies offer games and simulations of varying complexity in different (live or online, facilitated or self-directed) formats.
  • On the job learning
    There are many ways to carry out on-the-job learning. they vary from throwing the person in at the deep end and providing support, to work-shadowing.
  • Mentoring and Coaching
    These are one-to-one development techniques. Broadly, mentoring is where the guide offers their experience to the learner. In coaching, the guide’s role is to help the learner learn for themselves.

We have articles on Mentoring and Coaching:

Training Program Design

For each need, you will select the most appropriate of these methods. Putting them all together will create your training program design. Often, and for virtual teams, in particular, your first consideration will be whether to:

  • Bring the learners together for a shared experience
  • Allow self-paced learning

Budgeting and Resourcing: Set your Training Program Budget

I hope I don’t need to go into the details of the budgeting process here. If you do want more, take a look at our article: 3 Ways to Produce Your Next Project Budget.

Likewise, you should not need a detailed description of the estimating process, either. And if yo want more on this, check out:

But you will need to put together a budget. You will base it on your estimates of the costs associated with your proposed program.

The heads of expenditure (costs) might include:

  • Commissioning costs for instructor- or facilitator-led events
  • Procurement costs for training materials
  • Development costs for course and content creation
  • License costs for copyright materials
  • Costs for printing and distributing content and materials
  • Venue costs
  • Travel and subsistence costs for trainers and participants (meals, travel, accommodation)
  • Equipment costs (such as projection and audio)
  • Certification costs (registration, exam fees, travel and subsistence costs for exam takers)

The output from this discipline is your Training Budget.

Scheduling: Create Your Training Schedule

As with all aspects of Project Management, you need to create a schedule for each item of your training program. This will show when you will roll out each element.

Getting this right is a matter of balance:

  • Avoiding delay to any critical part of project delivery or post-project implementation
  • Avoiding inconvenient clusters of absence from the workplace
  • And last, not overloading staff with too much training in too little time

The output from this discipline will be a training calendar. I’d recommend you publish this calendar and track progress. This will include:

  • Dates for classes and events (with logistics details – see Project Training Plan, below)
  • Deadlines for completion of self-paced learning
  • Public registration deadlines and exam dates for certification training
  • Timetables for informal workplace learning events

Consolidation: Create Your Project Training Plan

Let’s put together the outputs of disciplines 1 to 5. What you will end up with is the basis for your Project Training Plan. And a good project manager needs a good plan!

So, What else Will You Need to Include in Your Training Plan?

The simple answer is logistics. This includes:

  • Physical logistics – locations, travel, accommodation
  • Venue hire
  • Equipment hire
  • Catering
  • Registration process: invitation, registration, confirmation, notification
  • Attendance or registration records
  • Tracking of learner progress (a training log or Project Training Register)

Implementation: Design and Deliver Your Training

So, what does implementation mean, in this context?

Well, there are a number of things you and your team will need to do. For each element of the program, you will:

  1. Design the training or development intervention
  2. Procure any products or services you need. We have a guide to Project Procurement: Project Procurement Management [All the basics you need to know]
  3. Develop any additional materials – whether for the trainer or for the learner
  4. Promote and publicize the training to ensure learner take-up is high. Or, you may choose to enforce mandatory enrolment, attendance, and completion.
  5. Deliver the training

Evaluation and Follow-up: Measure and Enhance Your Training Outcomes

Just as with Project Benefits Management, you need to both assess the outcomes and follow-up to ensure that you maximize them.

Training Evaluation

The first part of this is evaluating the training. This is an activity for learners at the end of their training course or program. There are many approaches, and the best model for this is the Kirkpatrick Four-level Training Evaluation Model. This has four levels (who’d have guessed?) From least to most sophisticated, these are:

  1. Reaction: Measures enjoyment and relevance
  2. Learning: Measures new knowledge and skills. Or, less formally, measures the learner’s self-assessment of them
  3. Behavior: Measures how the leraner applies their new knowledge and skills in the workplace
  4. Results: Measures changes to the outcomes learners are now able to produce
Kirkpatrick Four-Level Training Evaluation Model

For most training, Kirkpatrick level 1 or 2 is perfectly adequate. Other levels take far greater resources.
Of course, to get the perfect measure of the training, you may also want to carry out some baseline assessment of learner performance before they attend the training. This may be anything from a simple pre-assessment questionnaire to a full post-training evaluation. However, in my experience, this is not common.

Learner Evaluation

For Kirkpatrick Level 2, you will need to evaluate the learners’ development so that you can evaluate the training.

Inevitably, this means setting up some form of testing.

This can be anything from a short quiz to a fully proctored and moderated examination. And, it’s this latter model that we see in certification training. Familiar examples from the world of Project Management include:

  • PMI certifications like PMP, CAPM, PMI-ACP
  • APM certifications like PFQ, PMQ, PPQ
  • Axelos certifications like PRINCE2, MOP, ITIL4

Do take a look at our articles on Project Management certification:

Follow-up

Very often, you can magnify the impact of training with effective follow-up. Ideally, this would be by the learner’s own manager, supervisor, or team leader. This will reinforce the value of their learning in the workplace setting. It will also help the learner to apply their learning into the context where they will be using it.

Measure Outcomes

Kirkpatrick Level 4 is the gold standard of evaluation. You are not always going to choose to (or even be able to) measure the outcomes of the training directly. They will, inevitably, be wrapped up with a lot of other changes. But it is well worth considering what you will do to report back on the effectiveness and value for money of your overall training plan.

What are Your Thoughts about Training Team Members and Stakeholders on Your Projects?

Finally, do let us know about your experiences, insights, opinions, and questions, in the comments below. And, as always, I’ll respond to every one.

About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

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