What is a master training sheet?

A training master sheet is a master sheet of all the training items your direct reports have completed since being onboarded to your team. It’s a singular place to keep track of what your direct reports have learned, the kinds of projects they’ve worked on, and what items they still need to be trained on. Think of it as your central learning hub for your direct reports.

How Master Training Sheets Help Design Ops Managers

Master Training Sheets for New Hires

Within my first year as a design director, my design team grew 3 times over in less than a year. I knew that with such rapid growth, onboarding and training would be a core area of focus for me. With each designer that joined, I learned more about onboarding and the new employee training process – which prodded me to iteratively optimize the first week training schedule with each new hire that joined, perfecting it until its processes and workflows became like second nature to me.

I started keeping track of each designer’s onboarding process and found how beneficial it was to help keep track of everyone’s progress – especially when I had multiple new hires in the same week. That’s how the training master sheet came to be.

Master Training Sheets for Retaining and Developing Talent

As my team grew, I quickly learned the real success factor behind growing a design team. It wasn’t how many designers I could hire, nor how many training sessions I could cram for them throughout their first week of employment, but rather how many designers I could onboard, train, and most importantly, retain.

Retainment was the most important factor to my team’s success. It is so much more cost effective to hire and keep an employee than to continuously spend hours going through multiple interview rounds and weeks of training to build up a new hire every year. A major part of retaining talent was learning that training doesn’t end after an employee’s first week. Continual training and development is critical to retaining good talent, and keeping your retained talent constantly satisfied, fulfilled, and evolving in their skillsets.

This is what makes the master training sheet so powerful: it allows design ops leaders to track all of the learning and training processes a direct report has completed over the entire course of their time with the company – and helps ensure their growth for the next years to come.

Using the master training sheet

The master training sheet is a living, breathing data table. Here is a a copy of my tried-and-true master training sheet for you to use for your team. You can jump right into using it, or read along to understand how it works:

Master Training Sheet Overview:
  1. In columns, all of your direct reports will display, alongside their title and seniority.
  2. In rows, all of the department’s training focus areas will display.
    • These are line items to keep track of line items such as: has the designer hosted their own design workshop, or have they presented high-fidelity design to a client, or have they worked with the in-house design system yet?
    • Note that the rows are strategically grouped by overarching training categories, for quick browsing.
  3. In the intersecting data cells, you can check off if an employee has completed that training line item.
A preview of the design department training master sheet I created. Displayed above are columns of designers and line items specifying if they’ve completed a key portion of training needed for their role.

Find Your Designers’ Strengths and Weaknesses

Since all your individual contributors are in column format, it becomes very easy to see what areas a direct report has completed, and which training sessions you still need to schedule to level them up and experienced contributors to your design team. Note that as a design leader, you are not solely responsible for training – make sure to leverage peer cross-training between specific  design subject matter experts and more junior-level designers.

Establish Peer Cross-training Opportunities

Since all your individual contributors are in column format, it becomes very easy to view which designers have been trained in a particular area, and which ones haven’t. That makes it easy to set up peer training sessions with between new designers and more seasoned designers. Allow your senior designers to train your new hires in their areas of expertise – it helps set up a meet and greet opportunity between new coworkers, and also provides a great opportunity to establish a sense of trust in a relatively new relationship amongst new coworkers. You can even try leveraging subject matter experts on your design team – key designers with expert-level strength in areas like motion design, accessibility, or even interactive components – so that they can own more in-depth training sessions in this subject matter for future sessions.

My focus is always to build powerful cross-disciplined design teams by hiring individuals with expertise in specific design skillsets. However, the real full-force power in a team comes when those expert individuals cross-train their  peers – that’s when a team really levels up – when a single designer’s personal strength is taught to others on their team, causing a multiplier effect. This is the real secret behind powerhouse design teams: cross training of core specialty skills.

Mid-level manager Training

If you’re looking to promote a senior designer to a mid-level management track, the training master sheet is one of the first places you should look to help you make your decision. Have they been adequately trained in all aspects of their role already, or are there any developmental training areas that still need to be completed prior to the promotion? If you would like to test-run their mentorship and training skills, find a training area this employee excels at and pair them with an employee that has yet to learn that skill – see how the training session goes to get a glimpse of what this designer would be like as a mid-level manager and trainer.

Free Design Master Training Sheet

Feel free to download my free Design Training Master Sheet here and implement it into your design ops workflows today.