Transforming learning & development – quickly & easily
Our personal thoughts on how to create high-impact virtual training programmes
It was Plato who first suggested that ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ and today that is more relevant than ever before, as we face huge changes outside of our control with far reaching impact on every single one of us.
A great example for me is the company who put into their strategic plan the goal to facilitate home working for every employee by the end of 2021. Then in March they were faced with a lock down – and in two weeks they achieved their goal – more than twelve months ahead of schedule!
Closer to home, in our own business we have talked for some time about developing our capability to deliver our training online. But it was always something to do in the future – when we had time – we even knew the platform we wanted to use but the task never hit the top of our to do list. Frankly we were also unsure whether we could replicate our ‘style’ online – particularly the interactivity, involvement and fun we aim to deliver…
The cancellation of all travel and face-to-face training has, of course, spurred us into immediate action and I am pleased to say we have now completed our first two client projects using our new virtual classroom. Lo and behold it wasn’t too difficult, didn’t take much time and the results were even better than we had hoped! Having experienced some traditional online e-learning we had feared that it would be difficult to replicate the level of engagement, practice and feedback our clients expect from us – but in fact, we got even greater involvement from a wider number of people – something we had not expected.
Of course we will continue to develop our approach but for now we thought it would be useful to share our experience of what can be achieved both today, when the pressures on individuals and companies are sky high but going forward when the lock downs are a thing of the past. So here is what we have learned so far…
Critical success factors for virtual training
- Break the training agenda down into a series of two-hour sessions which ensures full involvement, avoids screen fatigue and of course is more manageable for participants given the other demands on their time
- Give plenty of opportunities to ask questions – especially where it is possible to ask them privately to the trainer – meaning that even the shyest person feels happy to take part
- Use a variety of video-based approaches in the main ‘training room’ to simulate a face-to-face training environment such as seeing who is in the room and getting to know your colleagues and trainers right from the start
- Have video clips that can demonstrate best practice – so that everyone understands what excellence looks like
- Regularly break people into pairs or 3’s for feedback, co-coaching and even roleplays – all of which are tailored to each client’s business – engaging participants and ensuring that learning is immediately turned into practical action
- Build in small group discussions – allowing everybody to keep involved and play an active role in the programme – then bringing the learning from these discussions into the main ‘training room’
- Include engaging team exercises & polls – keeping energy levels up
- Offer optional psychometrics and questionnaires to keep it personal and allow people to assess themselves
- Provide follow up – 1-1 coaching which can continue after the workshop
- Make it fun! Virtual workshops need to be an enjoyable and engaging experience
Turning virtual modules into a meaningful programme
From our experience so far, we believe that virtual training works best in bite-sized modules. However, to achieve measurable results, these modules may need to be combined into a fully ‘joined-up’ programme. Our approach to this can be summarised as follows:
- Invest time to really understand the organisation we are working with and what you want to achieve from your teams over the next 3-6 months. What are the challenges? What do you want to be different as a result of the training?
- Start with an outline design which could be anywhere from a simple series of virtual workshops to a more comprehensive mixture of workshops, psychometrics, business simulations, 360o feedback, coaching etc.
- Work collaboratively with your training providers to create an initial draft, finalise an approach and then roll it out – as quickly as possible.
Want to engage in the discussion? Our showcase training room….
We are finding real value in having informal conversations, with a whole variety of people, as we continue to learn the best ways to deliver value in this new world. Every interaction has been worthwhile – an opportunity to share learning at a time when no-one is pretending that they have all the answers.
So – whether you are an L&D professional, a manager with a team to motivate or another training consultancy wanting to share ideas, we’d love to chat.
To help with this, we have built and will continue to develop, a living ‘showcase room’ of ideas and interactive approaches. We have found this is a good way to have the discussion and stimulate ideas and would love to introduce you to it!
Let us know if you would like to meet up for a mutual learning experience…
Ian & Judith HirstGet in touch