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How leaders can develop teams through training programmes

One leader shares how a creative mindset course provided far more than teambuilding

Image: D&AD Masterclasses

While many businesses are now exploring hybrid working, and some are responding to the competition for talent by offering completely remote working, building connected teams and maintaining strong working relationships without the in-person facetime has become more important than ever. Training courses are a solution that can motivate teams by providing staff with opportunities for personal and career progression, while learning about disciplines beyond their silo and working on projects outside the corporate hierarchy can give employees an improved understanding of the business, helping them to work more collaboratively. 

D&AD has worked with many businesses, creative and beyond, to inject some creative and collaborative thinking into teams. During the isolation of pandemic lockdowns, D&AD held a bespoke course for the Innovation team at information technology company Accenture. They wanted to help team members who had come into their roles through the  traditional consulting routes to develop a creative mindset, so D&AD created a 12-month programme aimed at increasing creative thinking.

Every month, three hours were set aside for training by a number of creative industry professionals from the D&AD community, alongside monthly out-of-office challenges, which included places to visit and new experiences to report back on. We caught up with Jamie Wright, previously the Innovation Lead at Accenture (now at ?What If! Innovation, which is also a part of Accenture), who told us that aside from making his team braver in their creative thinking, the course had more unexpected results. Here’s a pit-stop tour through some of the main benefits of leaders employing similar tactics.

Develop relationships and cooperation even though remote and hybrid working

Planned before the pandemic, the team ended up having half of their sessions in person before the pandemic, while the other half took place during lockdown. This meant that the programme became something Wright’s team looked forward to every month, breaking up the monotony of their days during Covid. “This was the only ‘training’ that we kept during lockdown,” says Wright, “So it was a time our whole team could come together again and it really helped everyone stay engaged. People were also so focussed on their client work, this was a nice changeup.”

Develop the unique strengths of your team

Training courses can help your team develop their skills as individuals by providing an opportunity for personal growth and learning. Accenture’s bespoke course gave their team an edge. Wright says, “We don't want a team of copycat consultants, we want you to bring your personality to work, we want you to kind of geek out on what you really love.”

Wright especially loved how varied the course was saying, “I think we (Accenture) massively value continuous learning, but we also don't really define what qualifications people need. We would rather give people freedom to develop in the way they want and learn about the things that they're interested in. This course was so broad and varied, it gave people lots of opportunities to invest in one topic over the other and align with what they were interested in,” says Wright.

Image: D&AD Masterclasses

Encourage learning beyond the everyday hierarchy

Training courses also help bring people together across hierarchy, and allowing more junior staff to interact with senior leaders they may not work with on an everyday basis opens up senior leadership to the possibilities of what they can learn from their more junior colleagues. Everyone on the team from recent graduates to Managing Directors took part in the course, and because both junior and senior team members were out of their comfort zone, people had to show their co-workers a more vulnerable side. “I think just working with people in a very different context, even if it's just for three or four hours helps a team,” says Wright.

Mixing it up enables cross-discipline learning

Bringing people who ordinarily work in distinct roles together to learn new things unrelated to their siloed roles also provides cross-disciplinary learning. For example, Wright says, “I think actually, the sessions that I got the most out of were probably the ones which were the least relevant to my day to day, if that makes sense. I think from a trade leader perspective, if you're leading a design agency for example, don't just do the design Masterclasses, do the ones about selling and briefing and strategy.” 

He added, “We did one on typography, even though no one in our team does typography, but it was the one that sticks in my mind. I think learning about different disciplines just frees the brain.”

Final thoughts

If you’re considering whether it’s worth your time, Wright says he was pleasantly surprised at how much the Creative Mindset course was tailored to fit his team’s needs, and wasn’t expecting to stay engaged throughout, saying, “It's just genuinely inspiring and interesting. Even if, on the face of it, you're like, ‘Can I really find time for two hours to listen to an artist on a pretty busy week?’; but I never left one of those sessions feeling underwhelmed.”

Accenture: Creative Mindset was a bespoke Masterclass programme created by D&AD to build on the creative mindset of a team within Accenture Interactive. Lasting 12 months, the programme aimed to increase the creativity of the team, and change the way they approached projects, and was shaped around the elements that make award winning creatives, delivered by award-winning creatives. Find out more about D&AD Masterclasses here.

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