As the COVID-19 outbreak reaches more and more countries, forcing governments everywhere to issue travel bans and cancel planned events, companies, universities, and organizations of all kinds are grappling with how to keep business — and leadership development — humming along as usual. With that, many organizations are turning to virtual training and online learning in lieu of regularly scheduled in-person classroom instruction or training events.
While virtual trainings might be second-nature to many tech-savvy organizations (many of the tech giants ONLY do virtual meetings/trainings), what if you've never done them before? What if even video conferences seem daunting and too technical to your L&D team and your organization's leaders?
While our roots are in in-classroom training, here at Entelechy we've fully embraced virtual instruction over the years for several reasons:
- It's cost-effective.
- It's easily scalable across business groups and geographies.
- It's consistent.
- It's (slightly) easier to implement logistically.
- It's (often) preferred by the learner.
At the end of the day, our clients (primarily global Fortune 500 companies) are demanding it. Virtual and remote training isn’t a trend. In this day and age, every organization should be considering virtual learning as they grow, do more business globally, or roll-out company-specific leadership competencies. And, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual learning is absolutely critical to keep your leaders informed, engaged, and connected during a time of uncertainty. In short, if you weren’t thinking about it before (and we bet you were) then you should be thinking about it now.
The good news is that Entelechy is an expert in this area and we'll be sharing our tips and tricks with you over the next few articles. In these articles we'll discuss how you can develop and use:
- Virtual Instructor-Led Training (vILT): A scheduled training using a platform like Adobe Connect or Webex.
- eLearning: Self-paced training that can be taken anytime (asynchronous).
- Social learning: A guided learning experience that includes self-paced assignments along with asynchronous interactions with fellow cohort members and a facilitator using a social learning platform like NovoEd.
Without further ado, here's our first tip.
Virtual Training Tip #1: Embrace the Unfamiliar
Our first tip is to lean into any feelings of discomfort you and your organization might have around virtual learning. Encourage your leaders to embrace the challenge of learning something new — and learning it in a new way, no less. Acknowledge your (and your organization's discomfort), but don't give into it. Sure, take precautions to foresee the major technical challenges your leaders might have as learning is moved to virtual platforms, but proceed confidently. In our experience, once leaders are exposed to well-designed virtual learning, they realize how simple and intuitive it can be. Seeing is truly believing.
Throughout this series, we'll be asking Entelechy team members and Master Trainers to chime in with personal insights and anecdotes to bring our Virtual Training Tips to life. Our first POV comes from Entelechy Performance Consultant Peggy Green.
In a previous leadership role, I worked with team members and colleagues in Massachusetts, Hyderabad, Melbourne, and Tokyo. My colleagues, and the larger leadership culture, valued face-to-face meetings and one-on-one phone calls. Communication was kept simple — we didn’t use video conferencing or virtual training software to connect with one another. Our department held a monthly Webex for customers to learn about the latest and greatest our products had to offer. The Webex trainings were feared by many people — no one wanted to deliver them because the technology was so unfamiliar. They felt unpredictable and uncomfortable. Our department ended up creating a special position to hire someone specifically to deliver the customer-facing virtual trainings.
Fast forward four years, and I started a leadership role at a young tech company who specialized and pioneered virtual meeting and remote access software. In this role, ALL calls were done with video and ALL trainings were done as virtuals (even trainings that were done in-person were also broadcast to live audiences in other office locations so you had in-person participants as well as remote). This was the company culture, this was what we did, ALWAYS. I had team members and colleagues in Sydney, Dublin, Boston, Oregon, and California and connecting virtually was not only expected, but no one even blinked at it.
The first month, my head was spinning. After a little while, my old opinions of virtual meetings and trainings being ineffective, second-rate, and impersonal evaporated. Sure, if we took an in-person training and just delivered it virtually it wouldn’t have the same punch. But if we created for a virtual audience from the get-go, we’d develop something impactful and relevant. So, my biggest takeaway from that career shift is that virtual training can be intimidating at first but through practice and familiarity, it can be so freeing, just as impactful as in-person learning, and can become a powerful tool to shift the leadership culture at an organization.
We've written a lot about virtual training recently. You can read our most popular articles by clicking on the images below: