How to Upskill Your Team

It’s not easy to retain talent, and it’s expensive to lose a good worker. So it’s actually sound financial advice to invest in your employees. Whether it’s with online training resources or by going back to school, when you upskill someone, you’re making them more valuable to the organization. While there’s a risk they’ll take those skills that you invested in to get another job, more likely they’ll feel a deeper connection to the company. By upskilling someone, you’re building a relationship, fostering trust and developing a more loyal employee.

3 Ways to Upskill Your Team

According to a study conducted by the Center for American Progress noted that the cost of having to replace an employee and train a new one is between 16% of an average salary to 213% for a more highly skilled one. There are many avenues for a manager to get their team retrained. Some involve more of a financial investment, but it doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive.

On the Job Training

For on the job training, you may not have to enroll your team in a training course or hire a professional trainer, as you probably have experienced team members who could act as guides. It’s a bit more than mentoring, really, as you’d likely want to create a structured training module to target what skills need addressing. One option is to use a scheduling tool to schedule official training sessions at work, where new skills can be taught by existing team members in a more formal setting.

There’s also a lot to be said about giving a team member more responsibility, so they can learn on the job. In this case, however, you’ll want to have a senior team member work with them to make sure they’re learning correctly. Task lists can be very useful in this situation, ensuring that employees in training don’t miss a crucial step.

If you prefer, there are trainers that can come to your office and conduct seminars on various topics to teach new skills to employees. These can be set up after work or perhaps during a lunch hour. You might want to offer a retreat or some other more sustained venture, depending on the skills being taught.

Virtual Training

Online courses offer another way to help get teams up to snuff. This is especially helpful if you’re already working with distributed teams who can’t be gathered together under one roof. If your company has more than one location, then online training courses are the key to getting your workforce retrained.

Online technology is such that all you need to do is schedule a time for employees to log into the system and the facilitator will lead them in the training. The teacher can upload documents, videos and offer online testing to make sure that the students understand the assignments. You can even create chat rooms or breakout rooms for more one-on-one or group assignments.

Some courses offer what’s called microlearning, short web-based units on a topic that only take five to 10 minutes. These can be soft skills or anything that doesn’t involve a deep dive. They can be used at a coffee break, the beginning or end of the day or really at any time the team member has a few minutes to spare.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills—Understanding the Benefits of Both

Off the Job Training

Sometimes the old ways are the best. There are some skills that just can’t be gained unless they’re taught in a formal fashion. These are the traditional avenues, such as workshops, seminars, conferences or going back to school.

This is, naturally, a more expensive venture, so it’s something you might not want to engage with unless you have a substantial number of team members who require this type of education, which would make it more cost-effective. It’s best if an off-the-job training is limited to a shorter period, which saves money.

There are advantages to this type of learning, like obtaining a certification or some document stating the student has completed the course of study. You can also easily track their progress as the course of study is more structured.

step by step guide to upskilling your team


Implementing an Upskill Process

To get started on an upskill project at your company, you’ll want to recruit team members who need to upskill but are also self-motivated, have an inherent love of learning and have shown the ability to pick up new skills.

Secondly, you need to find the time to train your team. That can be on company time, during breaks or off-site. This involves setting aside the needed funds to finance the continuing education. You may not be able to send everyone away to further their training. If that’s the case, make sure someone is taking notes so they can then bring these new lessons back to the rest of the team and pass on that knowledge.

Don’t forget to provide incentives. It’s true that by learning new skills, your team will be more valuable to the organization but also to other employers. Offer the team a reward, be it a bonus or a salary increase as they develop new skills. Not only will this motivate the team members who might not have the gung-ho attitude you’re looking for, but it helps retain these newly trained team members while building loyalty.

Tracking Team Member Progress

Once you’ve found a method that works for you and your employees, you’ll next want to develop a process to track their progress. You want to make sure that they’re retaining the information and in fact learning the skills you’re having them study.

There are several ways to track your team’s upskill progress. One simple way is to create a list that collects the names of all who are involved in the continuing education and then note success milestones along the way. Have them sign off after they’ve completed a phase of the retraining. For an extra level of sophistication and control, you can use project management software to plan a long-term upskill project for the whole team, track their progress and approve training hours.

Finally, it’s important to celebrate your team’s success after they have completed their studies! If they put in all that hard work, usually on their own time, and now are better equipped to get the job done, that’s great. They should be rewarded. A thank you, a party or a bonus of some kind can go a long way to cementing the bond between you and your team.

Upskilling your team can be a long project with numerous tasks and scheduling conflicts. Using a project management software can help you plan the necessary steps to upskill your team. is an online PM software with planning, scheduling and tracking tools so you can manage your team as they progress through their continuing education. Try it free for 30-days and see how it can help you and your team.

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