4 Creative Ways to Train Your Team on Zero Budget

How many of you have a good, healthy training budget for your team?  By that I mean one that allows for every team member to receive training as well as funds to cover travel or other costs? No? Well, you’re among many of the companies that still hold the purse strings tight when it comes to internal development.


So what is a leader to do?  The best plan is to create creative approaches to training so that your team feels valued, is able to provide their own creative and innovative results, and grow their skills so they can progress to higher levels in your organization.

  • Conference session replays:  Most industries have numerous conferences, many of which are beginning to offer either live session streaming (usually for free) or recorded replays of conference sessions. One tactic I use is to ask each team member to watch a different session then report back to the rest of the team at an upcoming meeting with information on the session and the key learning points. If it seems valuable to the larger group, it can than easily be added to each person’s development plan.
  • Podcasts: One of my favorite ways to find free training is on podcast sites like Blogtalkradio.com. The ability to search for industry related podcasts and listen live or via iTunes is both convenient and free. These can either be assigned based on the employee’s specific development needs or can be employee choice.  Either way, be sure to have the employee report out to the team on any key learning points.
  • Articles: Given the amount of news and information on the internet, articles are one of the easiest tools to use for free training.  Assign articles to team members and give a deadline for him/her to report back to the larger team. They should come prepared with talking points to share with the group.  This will not only provide information, it will enable the employee to brush up on their presentation skills.
  • Book Reviews: Take the “old school” approach to personal training for effectiveness. Most leaders have a bookshelf full of leadership and business books. Assign a book to each team member with the task of reading and summarizing key learning points. That team member can then become a discussion leader on that book or topic at an upcoming team meeting.
  • Leader as a trainer: While most leaders are busy and don’t want to make time to train, this is actually an easy and fun approach. Think of areas in which you excel — such as communication, coaching skills, presentation skills or other “how to” information — and create a short presentation to teach the information to your team.  It will show your personal commitment to training and that is often worth just as much as sending employees to an external course.

Team learning is about opening people up to talking about issues and how to find new approaches.  By giving the nudge on different ways to find current information, you will encourage individual and team development and even with little or no budget, you and the organization will reap the benefits of better ROI, lower turnover and more highly engaged employees.

Trish McFarlane, Vice President of Human Resource Practice and Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group


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