The training method that helps build an awesome team culture

Training methods may seem an insignificant detail — but they do much to shape your team culture. Thinking back to our own school days, we can probably all remember lessons that made it fun being a group of 20, 30 kids. At other times, we may have felt indifferent about our peers. Later in life, the design of work training sessions has a similar effect.

The sad reality of most training at work

The trainer poses a question and waits for a couple of seconds before asking one of the group to answer it. If it's the right answer, he or she usually moves on to the next topic — assuming that the rest of the group will have put mental effort into solving the question or task as well.

Which, of course, is wishful thinking. And that's why cooperative learning is such a game changer.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning methods activate and engage everyone, which deepens learning and fosters team spirit. There are lots of different cooperative techniques, and this is my favourite:

Think — Pair — Share

This method is pretty much what it says on the tin:

Think

Each member of the group jots down their thoughts in response to a question or task.

Pair

Use a random principle to pair people up with a partner. For example, you could put bits of paper with a number under people's chair and they have to find the person with the same number. Or they could pull a coloured piece of string from a bag and find the person with a matching string.

Ask partners to compare their notes and agree on a response together.

Share

Two pairs come together to discuss their results. Or in small training groups, pairs can share with the entire group.

Why it's great

Easy to use

This approach can be used for pretty much any context. It's a great way to refresh an otherwise traditional session, especially if you notice that some people seem mentally withdrawn or if you want people to think about something at some depth.

Happy introverts

Most importantly, it's great for introverts. In fact, you may not even notice who's introvert after replacing standard brainstorming with Think — Pair — Share.

That's how good this is. 

Fosters social and communication skills

In other words: it lays the foundation for a great team culture. Whereas in traditional training, friends choose seats next to each other and interact in pair work, assigning partners randomly makes people leave their social comfort zone and get to know each other. This can render awkward 'ice breaker' type activities unnecessary.

Over to you

If you're a trainer, team lead, or you've ever had training at work — what do you think of Think — Pair — Share? What's your favourite exercise?