EP 025

Why Training Isn't Enough When It Comes to Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams: a familiar software for many of us, no matter what industry you work in. As familiar as it may seem, Teams can be a massive pain point for many.

In episode 25 of the Make Others Successful podcast, Matt, Emma, and Mike explain why generic training isn't enough and the importance of having structure around how you use Teams as an organization.

Hosted By
Matt Dressel
Emma Allport, CSM
Mike Bodell
Produced By
Benjamin Eizenga
Edited By
Eric Veeneman
Music By
Eric Veeneman


Matt (00:06):

Welcome back to Make Others Successful, a podcast where we share insights, stories, and strategies to help build a better workplace. On this podcast, we like to talk about how technology can make your workplace better, and the hope is by making your workplace better, you make other people better. So today I've got Mike and Emma here. This is Matt talking right now we're going to talk a little bit about teams. Teams is a common thread we hear from all of our customers, specifically things like we need training on teams. Teach me how to use teams, teach me the one way to make teams the best for my organization. What we're going to talk about is how we react to those statements and how we feel about them and our overall approach to answer these questions. So we've had this conversation before internally, and the discussion really started from a realization that teams is not like many other applications. It's not quite like text messaging on your phone where all you need to know about is the color bubble you have and how to reply and reply all. It's not like that. There's so much more to it. Emma, do you want to start us off with your perspective on some of these?

Emma  (01:13):

I think how this originally started was we were asking, well, what are the pain points that we hear from people? What do we hear from customers? What do people say when they come to us? And I believe it was you, Matt, that brought up. Most often we hear people say, can you just train our team on how to use teams? Which as we were just talking about, essentially makes the assumption that there is one right way and could you just train us the one right way? So what's wrong with that assumption and what's our stance on that?

Mike (01:41):

So I think at a high level, there's three basic, I think facets or perspectives that come at teams. One is going to be the hands level, the doers, the people who are in it every day, and they're a little bit lost. They're trying to figure out all of the bells and whistles and how they work and how they can make themselves more effective. There's a middle level, which is kind of your operations level where people are trying to organize the business or organize their organization and run projects or assemble little teams that are responsible for areas of the business or something like that. And then you have a leadership level, which is we're going to roll out teams, or maybe we're already using teams and I feel like it's a mess and I don't know,

Emma  (02:20):

We pay a lot for these licenses and we're right, we're paying

Mike (02:22):

These licenses and how do we wrangle it? How do we make sure that we're protected from a liability standpoint? So there's those three different kind of facets or perspectives I think that you come at it with. And so we get questions sometimes from leadership, sometimes from project management, sometimes from end users saying, how do I use teams? And it's usually a pretty generic question. I even had one recently where I was invited in to have a discussion with somebody and they basically showed me their team's environment as they were logged into it and asked me to evaluate it and then tell them what they should do. And it's like, well, I can't just do that. There is no magic pill. There's no one answer. And so very quickly it evolves into a conversation about, well, what does your organization want to do? What are your goals? And how can this be applied in that?

Emma  (03:11):

So then you were going to jump

Matt (03:12):

On that.

Emma  (03:12):


Matt (03:12):

It's really when I talk to leadership, I want them to move their mindset or at least initially reset and not think about, oh, I need training. Can you give me training and more about who is owning this technology and how it's used within your business? If you know that, if who's responsible for that? Cool. Next question. Do they have a plan for how this should be used in their business? No. Or yes. If they say no, it's like, okay, then we should train those people and come up with a plan for how your business should use this technology. Once we have that, then we should use out of the box training and maybe some bespoke training to create something that you can actually train all your employees on

Mike (03:54):

That is also cost effective. I really like the Swiss Army knife analogy because if you think about all of the things in one of those big Swiss Army knives, if we provided soup to nuts training on every one of those blades, it would cost you a fortune. So maybe that's a way to approach it when we get that ask is like, would you like to spend a million dollars?

Matt (04:10):

Would you

Mike (04:10):

Like to spend $15,000? And then the other thing to think about in terms of all of those things in the Swiss Army knife is, well, you ought to think about what those tools are because you may well say, we don't drink in our organization, and so you can't have a corkscrew, right?

Matt (04:24):

Yep. That piece of it is actually the other piece that the leaders need to understand, which is to say, many of these organizations have adopted this technology because it came with the license and have it, but the default configuration from Microsoft is very, very open, very, very, everything is available. And some of them, it's cool to have, like you were talking about, if you need the tweezers, maybe you do need the tweezers, maybe you don't. It doesn't really matter. It doesn't hurt anybody, right? But as you said, the corkscrew, if you're like, our organization is against the corkscrew, that should not be an option that somebody can choose. And a more realistic example of that is guest access. For example, not every single team should allow guest access. Then you should turn it off by default and enable it for teams where you want to enable guest access.


We talk to customers a lot where maybe they're in a sensitive financial situation where they're sharing sensitive financial data on the regular. That's what a lot of their organization does. Then the default should be to not enable guest access and for the internal or vendor facing project that they really want to work on that should have guest access enabled, but not just everything. Well, the default is it's on for everything all over the place no matter what. And so any owner could randomly choose to give a guest user access and it's just going to work and it'll be great for them. It'll be easy, inconvenient for them. But if the risk, again, security risk is too high, you need to turn that off. But you have to choose that, and you have to choose that intelligently.

Mike (06:04):

So an example of, look, I'm just taking that example that you provided. If somebody were to come to us and say, I would like to have training for my organization on how to appropriately share things with external parties, that would be a good ask,

Matt (06:18):


Mike (06:18):

It's very specific. And they know already that they want to do that with the tool.

Matt (06:23):

And you can cover that in an hour training or a half an hour, whatever that is effectively, and you can effectively communicate with what that looks like. And the only thing I I'll mention about this is that doesn't mean that there's not a baseline let's level of training. We've created some basic teams things. There's no doubt that there is a baseline, but that's not what most peoples are missing. Most people can figure out how to open the app and that chats mean chats and that most people understand that concept. Where they get stuck is, I created a bajillion teams and I don't know what to do. Or I created a bunch of channels and it's causing this piece of pain point for me,


Unless I know what that pain point is, I don't know how to recommend the solution for them. Because how many times I've talked to people where they're like, we're doing it this way for this reason because we had this problem. And you're like, oh, I understand. And what I would usually do for an average customer, the one size fits all, doesn't exactly fit. And I really need to provide them some other guidance for that to really work in their organization for their particular needs because they're working with external parties all the time, or because they're working with, there's so many other things that can change that guidance.

Emma  (07:42):

So let's think through the scenario that I feel like have seen quite a bit in the last three years. So a lot of people were thrown into using teams because of the pandemic and because of remote work really coming on the scene, and people not only did not have any type of standardized training, but people figured out how to use things at different rates within a company. And so now there's no consistency across which teams use. What is the advice to those companies who have kind of had a shoot from the hip strategy the last three years, and now they're realizing, well, we're pretty much going to stay remote, hybrid, whatever. We're using this tool. Everyone is varying uses for it levels. Every team is set up differently. Division, I mean within the company is set up differently. How do we start creating more of a standardized practice when people are all over the place?

Matt (08:31):

So my recommendation is always to start to categorize the features and how you want to use it. So there's big ticket items that can be like, we treat guest access this way. We treat apps this way. Come up with those rules which may impact some people that are currently using it. Maybe it was completely open and they're like, we've got guest users all over the place because that's what they did. You may have to go back and say, no, we don't that have

Emma  (08:55):

Some hard conversations. Sure,

Matt (08:56):

We need to change that. Once you have that kind of in place and you understand what that is, then you can start to say, okay, cool. 90% of my business, for example, our internal communication webinar where we talk about topic-based communication, then you say, Hey, we want to engage in topic-based communication. That is an important aspect of what we do. We need to change that as an organization. Cool, let's start talking about that and training on that, which is a broader topic about this is how group chats should work. This is how individual chats should

Mike (09:31):

Work. This is what topic. That's not even necessarily teams training, right? That's how to apply topic-based communication within teams.

Matt (09:37):


Emma  (09:38):


Matt (09:39):

And so now you say, okay, cool, that's the next thing I'm going to do. And you basically start to address the business needs that this technology can help you solve and less everybody needs to know how to use the technology so that they can figure out how to use it best in their daily life. That is secondary to as a business, this is how we're using teams in the business.

Mike (10:01):

That's the difference between using the tool strategically versus not.

Matt (10:05):

Correct. And I really want to be clear. That doesn't mean that I'm like, we are not suggesting, I'm not suggesting that you should lock down and tell users this is the only way you can do it, period. But what the reason people get frustrated with the use of teams, especially in an organization like you were talking where one person knows how to use it really well or a small group of people,

Emma  (10:26):


Matt (10:26):

Everybody else doesn't know how to use it, and they're frustrated that everybody else just needs to get trained. The reality is if they all get trained, that only solves a very small piece of it because however they've decided works for them and for their piece of the organization isn't necessarily going to immediately translate. Somebody who takes that training isn't going to automatically go, oh, I see how this thing fits in my life and it fits the same way that it fits yours, and so we're going to use it. People are going to look at it and go, for example, the communication one is a perfect example. They're going to go, I understand this. It's just group chats, group text messages, so that's what I'm going to do. Now you have somebody who's like, no, no, no, I want channels.

Emma  (11:05):


Matt (11:05):

They refuse to switch to channels because they didn't get how that fits or the benefits because the training only went so far and their gap just they didn't get that far.

Emma  (11:15):

Actually, McKayla brought up a great point. Another one of our coworkers on a recent discussion over podcast about topic-based messaging, technically done but culturally done wrong. So they had a thread where people could post information about what's going on in the office, but then also personal information if they're going to have a soccer practice and have to leave early or whatever. And it ended up getting so muddied that there was no structure around what was supposed to be in the thread or what wasn't. And the whole thread ended up falling apart to which people started emailing again. And it was one of those just complete misses as far as moving to a topic-based channel, technically using the technology correctly, everyone's using teams, but it wasn't structured properly and not everyone was on the same page about the structure and to the point that it actually shot themselves in the foot and people started putting important information not in that channel

Matt (12:10):


Emma  (12:10):

Somewhere else, like email

Matt (12:11):

Your exact point is one of the things we try to do, so I'll try to explain what we do as an example to other organizations. Emma, when you got onboarded, there was a scheduled meeting that was, I think in the first day or two that was about Slack. Now we use Slack internally for our communications, which there's a whole nother podcast about why we do that still, and there's blog articles about it. Read it if you're interested.

Emma  (12:35):

I'm Team Slack,

Matt (12:36):

But we use Teams and Slack, but for our internal stuff, we use Slack. There was a whole meeting and training session with, I think it was probably Mitch, about that use of that tool.

Emma  (12:48):


Matt (12:49):

Did he go through how to open Slack? Not really. Probably. It was more focused on these are the channels that you should be watching. This is what they're for.

Emma  (12:59):

This is how to communicate in them. This

Matt (13:01):

Is our approach to communicating in these channels across the board. And it wasn't necessarily obvious immediately. It wasn't like a no-brainer because I know as people join our organization, it takes a little bit time to get accustomed to the way that we communicate very, we've had this conversation even recently about we communicate in channels. We do not want to see a ton of direct messages back and forth. We believe strongly that unless there's a real reason to make it a private message, there's no reason not to put it in a public channel. If somebody doesn't want to be watching that channel, they don't have to watch that channel. If somebody who doesn't wants to ignore it, and it's a thread they can ignore, not

Emma  (13:37):

Get the notification, they can turn it off. They

Matt (13:38):

Can choose to do what they want do.

Emma  (13:40):

Yeah, I think the point you're driving towards is really that teams training without the structured strategy alongside is really pointless. And so if someone's going to ask us to come in and just train on how to use teams, it's not going to get them very far.

Matt (13:56):

Training on Teams is useful for people who you are empowering to decide the strategy for teams,

Emma  (14:02):

Which has to happen,

Matt (14:03):

Which has to happen no matter what. Now, an organization that takes the approach that we're going to train everybody in the organization on teams, generic teams, and lets go. You are going to have whatever strategy your team comes up with, and it's going to be individual by individual, group by

Emma  (14:18):

Division, division,

Matt (14:19):

Division by division. And it's going to be what it is across the board, which

Emma  (14:22):

I think happened at a lot of companies in the last three years.

Matt (14:26):

Even if you don't provide the training, that is what happens by default. What happens is somebody reads an article, learns a little bit about it, tries a thing, and that's their new thing, and they get other people to use it. That is what happens, right? By providing everyone training. Alls you're doing is providing official guidance on the tool, but leaving all of the ways up to them. We want to flip that on its head a little bit, not all the way, it's not, like I said before, we don't want to define everything down to the nitty gritty, but we want to have a strategy and a priority for how teams fits into the organization.

Mike (14:59):

It's very interesting. I'm sitting here thinking about this and what you're saying. It's really, we talk about the strategic use of it, but it's more than that. It's actually helping to define what your modern workplace is and what that culture looks like. So I think of another analogy, which is there's a billion dudes out there that can use hammers and saws to build houses, but the really good ones have a style,

Matt (15:24):


Mike (15:24):

Architectural style, and they've learned how to use those tools to produce a result that's objectively better

Emma  (15:32):


Mike (15:32):

The run of the middle spec,

Matt (15:33):

Cut above the

Emma  (15:34):


Mike (15:34):

And so that's what you ought to be doing for your business, even for your internal team and how you communicate and how you collaborate. And that's by using these tools that way and thinking about 'em that way. You're creating that artistic, that culture, that style for your organization that makes your workplace better,

Matt (15:51):

Assuming that teams is core to your business. If it's not, it's just the thing you use to do. Virtual meetings sometimes. Don't worry about it, don't train anybody. It doesn't matter. I don't think there's any businesses that are that way anymore. Everybody pretty much has to your comment about Covid and the Pandemic Pandemic and all of that,

Emma  (16:08):

I don't think that because the tool is so multifaceted, there's probably arguments that we could make at almost every company we come across. I'm sure we could think of some that maybe wouldn't benefit, but I do feel like there's a use case for most

Matt (16:21):

Scenarios, which is why we get so many owners who are like, yes, we need to do this better because they are seeing the potential benefit. They just don't know how to get there. And again, our goal is to reset that a little bit and go, okay, you need to think about this differently. You need to think about owning this thing and how that is going to happen. And it doesn't have to be big. It doesn't have to be huge, but that's where you have to start.

Emma  (16:46):

So we covered a lot, and I feel like this gave a really good sneak peek into our next webinar topic, which will kind of be around, we've sort of nicknamed it taming the team's chaos because we know that it can become very chaotic, especially with what Matt was talking about, when every division, every team is doing something different, and your response to that should not just be, well, we need more training. As we just talked about. It needs to be more of a strategic approach. And how would you recap it, Matt?

Matt (17:18):

This challenge for us is all about changing that perspective because not everyone is thinking about the governance and the strategy or how this fits in their organization. If an organization has that solved, we'd be happy to talk to somebody about training and about what they need and how they need it, because they'll be ready to talk about the specifics. But if they're not there yet, we're going to always be pushing them to go, okay, you need to find these other things first. You need to buy into those things and figure those things out


At least at a baseline. You don't have, like I said, you don't have to have it all figured out, but you need to have that baseline. So for us, that's really what it's all about. The other thing that we kind of talked about, which I think is important, is that who's asking and where they fit? And I agree with Mike's assessment. There's three levels, leadership or executive or people who aren't necessarily involved in the day-to-Day all the time, but they're experiencing the problem either through hearing it or not. And then the middle, which are the owners or the strategy, the people who are leading that charge, and then the regular users who are just trying to do their job with this tool. So I think that's another piece of it that we talked about that I think is super valuable.

Emma  (18:28):

So training isn't all bad, but your intention and the reason behind getting the training is something to think through and we're here to help you with. So come to our next webinar all about, we'll talk about some of this taming the team's chaos, and we'd love to hear other's thoughts. So leave us some comments and continue the conversation with us. Thanks for listening. Thanks for your time, Mike and Matt, and we'll catch you guys on another podcast.

Matt (18:54):

See you everybody.

Mitch (18:56):

Hey, thanks for joining us today. If you haven't already subscribed to our show on your favorite podcasting app, so you'll always be up to date on the most recent episodes. This podcast is hosted by the team members of Bulb Digital, and special thanks to Eric Veneman for our music tracks and producing this episode. If you have any questions for us, head to make others successful.com and you can get in touch with us there. You'll also find a lot of blogs and videos and content that will help you modernize your workplace and get the most out of Office 365. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you next time.

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