Understand to be understood

April 15, 2020

“I am a Microsoft Teams and Office 365 trainer. I work with end-users and teach them how to take the most from Microsoft Teams.”

The two sentences above may sound very predictable. 3T: Teams, Trainer, Teaching. However, how it is possible that some trainers have a better impact on Microsoft Teams adoption than the others? Sure, adoption projects consist of a lot of different actions than pure training stuff, but the training part is one of the most important things in the whole process. We face people who may have different feelings about new software and can simply be afraid of change. As you know, change affects people – in this case, end-users mostly. Therefore, it is up to us whether the end-user will fall in love with the new solution or simply reject it.

In my opinion and from my experience, the way the trainer prepares themselves for upcoming training and how much they know about recipients before the final face to face (or monitor to monitor, nowadays) reunion is a key factor in a successful Microsoft Teams adoption project. Unfortunately, I often see that many of them conduct various Microsoft training by using the same approach, the same techniques, the same examples and not necessarily listening to the other side. I call this approach the “tape production” method. Trust me that preparing for the training and carrying it out on day zero is just as important. Let me share a few tips and reflections from my trainer’s dairy.

Understand to be understood

Current situation

You both set the date for the training. Your customer confirms that there is a need to implement Microsoft Teams and other Office 365 applications to build up a new modern workspace. The organization is growing, and Microsoft Teams is the best environment for the current processes to be transformed. Perfect, we are heading in the right direction.

Your call to action

Understand to be understood. Saying this sentence, I mean letting the customer talk out and thus allow yourself to understand their business. At this stage, we want to find out as much as possible about their work, what is the organizational and team structure, what are the most important areas of their work, what are the biggest challenges and frustrations while working with current systems, what takes too much time to perform their duties and what he gives them pleasure at work. In this part, it’s you who ask questions and conduct an interview. The goal is to clearly understand what your customer is doing. It will help you to prepare the best Microsoft Teams training show ever!


If you understand the team structure, you’ll be able to prepare a custom demo in Microsoft Teams, including nomenclature, jargon and all the communication sweet spots that the customer is using. Your demo will be more understandable and user-friendly from the beginning. And yes, from a psychological point of view when we see things which are known to us, resistance decreases.

If you identify key business processes that the team works on daily, you’ll be able to address them in the Microsoft Teams space and add matching applications from Office 365 (Planner to organize team’s tasks, Forms to conduct the surveys, etc.). Be one step ahead and try to map the processes and suggest optimal solutions in advance.

If you identify what kind of external systems the customer’s team use (Zoho, Jira, etc.) you’ll be able to present the possibilities of Microsoft Teams integration with external applications and prepare yourself to answer potential questions. People usually ask for integration, even with systems they don’t like.

If you conduct such an interview and show true interest and engagement, you will build trust and make the client feel more confident and know that both of you care about mutual success. You naturally become part of the team – Microsoft Teams Player in action!


Preparations before the show

Build a demo based on your insights and knowledge you gained from the customer interview then leave space for teamwork. In your demo preparations remember the small things that make it big, add company logo, emojis, call the Microsoft Teams’ teams and channels using the names and terms that customer knows. You may also add the files that the customer shared with you before day zero. Make the demo cozy and understandable. Simply speaking, step into your client’s shoes and build the place where they’ll feel at home.

Day zero – training

On day zero, when you meet with the group of your students and you already know that they will love the training concept you have prepared. Now the stage is yours. I love the moment when people see Microsoft Teams for the first time. In their eyes it is visible that on one side this presented software is a new thing but on the other side is their thing. The teams, channels, and processes are already organized as their work is organized. It gives a sense of security. The effort in the first part of the preparation now brings positive results. People are not afraid; they are curious and ready for new experiences with Microsoft Teams. They want to start clicking!

Now it’s time for their move. During the training, allow participants to make corrections to your demo. It is known that after one familiarization meeting you cannot fully know their businesses and structures. Pointing out corrections by them, will stimulate their involvement, activity and encourage them to ask questions. In this way, you naturally build engagement and stimulate students to test and try Microsoft Teams by themselves. The mental barriers and resistance to change are decreasing.

All the time emphasize the power of Office 365 applications in Microsoft Teams. Make notes together during the training by using Microsoft OneNote, create tasks in Microsoft Planner, draw the processes and mind maps by using Microsoft Whiteboard, use simple bots to conduct simple surveys (are we taking a coffee break now or in half an hour?). Build upon customer’s eyes a questionnaire in Microsoft Forms to evaluate their experience after the training. Don’t leave Office 365, try to show its possibilities at every step. All these steps matter, remember that in addition to teaching, you also inspire others to discover and show them the way.

After the show

When the training is over be sure that your students do not stay alone. Shortly after the meeting, it is extremely important to write down all the ideas and scenarios which you agreed and prepare a custom summary. It does not have to be a long document or presentation, nobody likes them, but a one-page summary that includes your findings and recommendations. If you identified the projects or tasks that can be managed in Microsoft Planner, name them and point to this tool. If you agreed that from today, they will be creating surveys in Microsoft Forms instead of using other tools, list the types of surveys and point Microsoft Forms. Every defined process or structure should be written down along with a hint of which tool can be used. Make their life easier and create a simple recipe by showing where Microsoft Teams can be used. This approach will strengthen the adoption process.

Make your and others’ lives easier in your next Microsoft Teams training!

Collaboration means two-way communication!

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