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Team Development is a Non-Negotiable Investment for 2023

When it comes to driving success in the coming decade, Employee and Customer Experience will take center stage.

But what drives those pillars? What foundationally mobilizes a team to deliver?

It is about motivation, enablement, and recognition – foundational elements of building a community where everyone knows what is going on and feels connected to one another.

Now is the time to double down on employee enablement and empowerment – through training, coaching, and development.

Throughout the pandemic, most organizations skinnied back their training and development groups – a decision that seemed fiscally prudent while remaining strategically short sighted. That said, we are seeing a marketplace that is continuing to explore how they will train their teams into the future.

I have been a professional speaker and trainer for 15 years and I have easily had over 50,000 in my audiences over the years. I have spoken to executives, front line retail employees, housekeepers, cooks, sports teams, travel professionals, universities, hoteliers, and even the federal government.

I learned through practical application what works with audiences and what doesn’t – and I have transformed my style over the past 3 years based on the global pandemic and the flex from in-person to virtual to hybrid and then back to in-person events.

I share this because if you are a speaker, trainer, or employee development professional reading this I want you to know that I’ve been where you are now, and I understand the demands you face. Everyone wants bite-size learning that is easy to understand, interactive, engaging, fun, highly educational, results driven, and delivered in no more than a 20 minute session.

Here a 6 ways you can improve your employee coaching and development this year:

1. Think Coaching and Teaching Versus Training

Training has this stigma of boring, check-the-box, mandatory classroom activities. Well executed training has the ability to motivate, inspire, teach, and impart skills. To achieve long-term success and retention with training, it must go beyond just sharing information.

Those who take to the stage to train must embrace the spirit of teaching and sharing information. They must take pride in helping those in their classes or sessions learn something new and improve their skills. They must understand that there is much to be done following the sessions. If there is no post training follow up, and the teams never hear about what they learned from their leaders, then it will slowly fade from their memories.

That is where coaching comes in. Leaders must coach teams in the moment to use the new skills they have acquired and challenge them to move from novice to mastery. As a trainer, creating job aids to supplement video or live training will help leaders keep information relevant and consistent, as well as hold their teams accountable.

Examples of storytelling content from 4xis TRUE NORTH© Learning Academy.

2. The Content Must Be Relevant and Engaging

Yes, we are going to talk about story telling now. Think back to a lackluster training session you had during your career – painful, wasn’t it? There is an obligation that a speaker has with his or her audience to not only share content that is relatable and digestible, but interesting as well.

That means crafting personal stories that connects back to your content in a way that engages your audience’s emotional centers, while also being relevant to the matter at hand. It also means being prepared for your sessions by honing your presentation, knowing your content, and bringing a certain level of panache and showmanship.

Also remember, your training isn’t a sermon, it’s a conversation. Sure, you have to share information, but don’t forget to let your audience interact through questions and activities about every 20 minutes.

And before you lament that you deliver the same training session over and over again, remember:

Celine Dion, Elton John, and Barry Manilow had Las Vegas residencies that lasted over 1,700 days (for the most part executing the same show) and received rave reviews up to the last performance.

3. The Power of Fractional Work

I may be a bit biased here, as on-demand training is a big part of my role. Even when I was leading CX for large organizations, I saw the value here. Your organization doesn’t necessarily need the same number of resources for training every day, week, or month.

This means you need a couple of strategies in play to meet the demand.

First, you need a team of professional trainers who are available to deliver content and train others to do the same. Second, you need those you can call upon to help within the organization when there is a need (think champions or train-the-trainer models). These are usually high-performing operations personnel who have a knack for communication.

Finally, you need an exterior partner you can call on when things really kick up. When I was running corporate training departments, that often meant having contractors that I could call in for a daily rate as needed or even partnering with a consulting company who had a stable of professional trainers that I could use on demand. This is, of course, contingent on finding the right support you can count on for long term, fractional work.

4. Shorter Sessions and Content, More Often

We can’t ignore the changing attention spans of learners, which is why Tik Tok and YouTube Shorts have become so very popular. That means a shift in how training is delivered to teams. It used to be commonplace to sit teams down for hours or days of training at a time, but that model has changed, particularly for front line teams and those who have active work routines.

There is still a place for longer sessions and workshops, especially if you are breaking up content delivery with activities and interactions throughout the session. But the 20-minute training session and the 2-minute video are the sweet spot for engagement and retention, so take advantage of those numbers.

Those in restaurants have valued the 10-minute pre-service huddle for decades, understanding that micro training can be powerful. That is also your answer to shrinking training budgets; you may not have funding for an hour of training, but what can you accomplish with the cumulative effect of 5 minutes of micro training per day?

5. Virtual Reality Training Continues to Evolve

The advances in the Metaverse and more affordable technology such as the Oculus headset make Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) a potentially powerful club in the bag of a training organization.

When you think about the ability to simulate surgery for a medical professional, repairing a car for a mechanic, customer interactions for a front line employee, or even preparing a dish for a cook, it becomes a low risk, low cost way to start the learning journey for on-the-job training moments.

Even if true VR is too costly (and in some cases the software development can top $10,000), AR can be a cost-effective solution. Superimposing virtual elements into the real world via a smart phone or tablet can also aid in learning. Think about virtual labels outlining how to use a piece of equipment or scanning a QR code to learn more about a particular job task?

94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if there is investment in their learning and development.

6. Curate On-Demand Content

Self-paced learning is very attractive to learners and online learning brings scale for large and dispersed organizations. The answer between live, in person, and LMS based training is not an either/or proposition – both are a necessary part of a learning strategy.

Being able to access training on their schedule and perhaps even in asynchronous ways creates a sense of freedom that appeals to employees. Think about how you can house your content in a way that allows for easy access and accountability, while giving learners the freedom to use on their terms.

This also means cataloging the content in a way that is easy to find, which allows employees to find the content they want as well as revisit topics on which they need a refresher. As a part of curating this content, engage the employee base to understand how they want to learn and what would bring the most value for them.

Here is one bonus thought to consider around learning styles – don’t’ be held hostage by those who say they learn better one way or another (or need reports created in one way or another). To be sure, a blend of audio, visual, and kinesthetic learning is definitely more interesting and makes everyone feel more included, but our brains are capable of processing information in many different ways. We all have preferred styles, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn in other ways.

It is also important that learning and development professionals set coherent expectations. As mentioned in the opening, everyone wants a one-page comprehensive guide to a topic that can be read and digested in 60 seconds. Remember, it is okay for something to take 5 minutes to read or watch. It is okay to ask teams to read an email more than 2 lines long. And it is okay to create content that is longer than a Tik Tok video.

That isn’t to say that you should write pages and pages of content to digest at one time or create videos that drone on for 20 minutes, but if a topic takes more than 2 minutes every now and again, that’s okay – a three-minute video isn’t the end of the world. You could also create a series of shorter videos, such as they do on LinkedIn Learning, to dive deeper into a topic.

2023 will be the year of development – as employees at all levels of the organization are looking for skills to make them better, faster, and more valuable to organizations. In some cases, you will spend money on training employees only to have them port those skills to other organizations – that is a part of the game. Better to have that problem that an undertrained workforce you can’t get rid of.

Ultimately, growing a reputation as an organization that trains, develops, coaches, and upskills employees will create a buzz out there that will attract the best talent to your organization.

Check out 4xi's Evolving Experiences© and learn how we can help you and your business.


Tony Johnson is 4xi’s Chief Experience Officer and leader of the Evolving Experiences© practice. Before joining 4xi, he was the Customer Service Officer for Aramark, a global food and facilities organization. Tony is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP), award-winning speaker, and globally recognized employee and customer experience expert.

Tony is the author of 3 books on leadership, employee engagement, and customer experience and hosts an industry-leading weekly podcast, Customer Service Academy.


4xi: Inspiring a brighter future, together.

4xi Global Consulting & Solutions is a team of talented leaders from both the client-side and service provider side, creating an impact on the Human Experience (HX) for people at work, in education, rest, and at leisure.

We believe in a people-first, experience-led philosophy; whether client, employee, or guest – their experience is the fundamental foundation of success.

We work with corporations, service providers, and innovators:

  • Strategic Advisory & Special Projects (SPx)

  • Headquarters Fractional Support On-Demand

  • Evolving Experiences© - Employee (EX) & Customer Experience (CX)

  • Design4Life©: Environmental, Physical, and Experiential Design

  • Global Amenities Strategy, Design & Operations

  • TRUE NORTH©: Strategic Partnership & Growth

  • Explorers Innovation Directory: Gateway to Innovation

  • Sustainability Simplified©: Supply Chain & Innovation

  • Market Research Reports & Benchmarking


4xi is proud to be Chair of WORKTECH Academy for North America and a member of its Leadership Advisory Board. 4xi is a Global Ambassador for WORKTECH Academy.

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