Many PMOs include team-based project management training sessions as part of their educational program. It’s often an effective way to solidify preferred methodologies among all members while enhancing communication between working groups and smoothing out task hand offs. But creating useful team training courses takes more than just putting everyone in a room and giving them a curriculum. Savvy PMOs will get the most out of their training investment by following a few simple guidelines.
Be thoughtful when setting class size. It’s not only important to include enough team members to make team training useful, it’s also critical that training not include too many people. You want to elicit good discussion and knowledge sharing without making the class overwhelming for participants or unwieldy for the instructor. If the sessions are intended to convey information on new processes or changes to administrative procedures, then interactive portions will probably be less frequent and a larger group may be workable. On the other hand, teaching new skills or rounding out niche competencies is usually best done with smaller subsets of the team.
Balance cost with scheduling. Depending on the topic and the dynamics of the team, it may make more sense to hold several smaller training sessions than one big, all-encompassing event. Weigh what you expect the training to accomplish before signing up for the least expensive option. If attendees don’t receive the level of instruction or depth of knowledge necessary, then your PMO will likely need to invest additional time and money in follow-up sessions.
Consider personalities before lumping team members together. Mixing strong personalities with those who are more reserved can be an effective strategy, but think carefully about how you include those at either end of the spectrum. Will a group of particularly energetic members overpower one or two individuals who are typically more subdued? In some cases these lopsided classes are a big hit, but you’ll need to take your team’s individual personalities into account before deciding what will work best.
Format matters. Will the course feature breakout sessions? Is a single-day event the most appropriate length? Is it advisable to group together members who manage similar disciplines? Would it be preferable for the team to conduct scenario discussions using the PMO’s real-world projects instead of hypothetical examples? Look at the team’s needs when determining which format will offer the most effective training experience.
Onsite or offsite? There are big pros and cons for each, so weigh them carefully before deciding. Onsite project management training may appear less expensive at first glance, but beware the potential for reduced productivity when attendees flock to their desks at break time to check messages or take care of tasks. By contrast, offsite sessions usually entail more travel and lodging costs, and individuals must plan for time out of the office. On the plus side, offsite events typically have fewer interruptions and remote workers may save time and money by traveling to a more central location.
Work closely with the instructor. Experienced trainers may already have ideas on how to address your PMO’s particular challenges, whether it’s devising a format suited to the team or moving the sessions along at a pace that allows junior members time to soak up the knowledge they need. Talk with the instructor about what you’re hoping to cover and which areas the group needs to focus on to move forward. Some instructors may also be able to accommodate requests for multiple training sessions in different regions to accommodate workers at satellite locations. Ask for the trainer’s input and then work together to create sessions that address exactly what your team needs.