The ability to deliver training virtually this year has been an absolute gift. However, this medium for training can sometimes cause challenges in multiple ways that leaders either aren‘t aware of or forget.
The market has shifted exponentially since the first lockdown happened. Digital Marketer CEO Ryan Deiss suggested that we have seen five years of growth in less than five months.
This is all excellent news as long as we appreciate that not everyone in our organisation has caught up with the pace of digital transformation.
Consider this too.
The UK Chancellor last month announced an additional £500m of funding to help mental health services in England after increased demand for support during the pandemic.
And the CIPD latest research on lockdown during COVID suggest that approaching 40% of employees are struggling.
As human beings, we are working our way through a different world, with an increased need to interact and learn virtually; and as learning facilitators, we have to be aware of this.
So what do we need to be aware of when it comes to virtual training and some of its potential downsides?
Watching Videos Versus Active Participation
Though it is incredibly useful to jump online and rewatch a specific piece of knowledge input, it doesn‘t exactly stimulate us in the same way.
No chats in between training sessions, nobody to ask for clarification; no “what did she say?“. No feeling of collective excitement at learning something new.
As human beings, we have learnt together with other members of our ‘tribe‘ for centuries – it is how we are wired.
However, all is not lost.
More than ever, it is critical to plan out your learning journeys and build in elements of personal interaction. Be that using Zoom meetings or breakout rooms on your favourite online communication platform.
Cramming In Content
Most learning programs attempt to cram as much learning as possible into a short period. When most learning occurred in person, that approach made more sense, given the costs of reserving physical space and the time required for facilitators and participants to commute to the location.
Virtual learning provides more options.
It is easy to space sessions out over time without incurring extra costs. Since no commuting is required, it‘s easy to break learning up over multiple sessions on different days.
Expecting Full Engagement
A normal classroom-style session involves connecting and sitting with colleagues with regular breaks and time for conversation.
Staring at a screen with only a few breaks is a very different experience and one that can hold back learning. Look anywhere online, and you will read many comments about Zoom fatigue.
Currently, nearly half of our global workforce is working from home. If you think the office is a distraction, consider one of your participants juggling noisy neighbours, no home office, or taking in constant Amazon parcels for their neighbour!
It is common that many people, once distracted in this way, can take up to fifteen minutes to get back into the zone, let alone have the ability to recall the content you were sharing.
Working on a PC during the day is different from staring into a camera as you are being watched intently by Jenny in accounts as you stumble your way through answering the facilitator‘s questions.
For dedicated learning sessions, our learning consultants are fully aware of these challenges and the training they design always focuses on keeping participants engaged. Make sure the sessions you’re facilitating do the same!
Not Leveraging ‘Social‘
It is common for some learning programmes to let participants leave, do the Zoom wave, and everything is paused until next time.
This is a huge lost opportunity to leverage the power of online learning.
The benefit of training and development is the participant‘s ability to recall what they have learned. If this is the case, learning programs should engage participants via social networks, encouraging them to share what they‘ve learned with teammates, friends, and family. By connecting learning material to social interactions, participants link new ideas to the brain‘s social memory network, resulting in better recall later on.
And, the effect of thinking other people might be watching you creates positive social pressure. When learning is social, learners encode more richly, recall more easily, and act more often.
Not Following Up
We have already highlighted a couple of challenges around engagement and how people learn. Couple this with a lack of structured follow-up and the results you thought you would get most certainly won‘t occur. Just because someone fills in your online poll or is smiling back at you from their camera doesn‘t mean all is well.
Build a more active follow–up process into your learning journey, including more frequent touchpoints.
What Do I Do Next?
Covid has changed the way we work forever. The ‘new normal’ is here to stay – how have you chosen to react?
Now is the time for powerful leadership – are you ready to take on the role of performance coach?
If your leadership skills need a reboot for the new Covid age, we can help.
We are expert leadership trainers, and we can help you develop the skills you need to lead your team to success amid the ‘new normal’.
For more information on our various leadership development programmes, including Leading Teams and being a People Pioneer, click here.
To discuss leadership training with one of our experts, get in touch with us by calling 01628 488 854 or contact us here.
P.S. If you would like to attend one of our complimentary taster workshops on working with remote teams, call us on +44(0) 1628488 854.
About Excel Communications
Excel Communications is a learning and development consultancy based near London in the U.K. For more than 30 years; we have been collaborating with clients across the globe.
Partnering with Excel empowers you to evolve your people and business by fuelling a love for learning.
We work with you to create unforgettably, customised learning experiences to achieve your vision of success and growth, with tangible results.
View our case studies here.
We have a team of expert trainers delivering programmes across five continents in multiple languages. Call us now on +44 (0) 1628 488 854.
If you would like to watch our leadership masterclass recordings, you can access the latest leadership complimentary guide here.