The Covid-19 virus has significantly altered the way that people communicate and interact with each other. These changes may be temporary. However, many of these changes are likely to cause a significant change in the way we do business. One of the main changes is in the training and development programs for employees.
In the past, businesses thrived when they created a single new product or idea and brought it to market. Today, though, businesses thrive by adapting to and adopting best practices that are constantly evolving and changing. One thing is for certain, if you stay still or rest on your laurels, you will fail.
The world of training and employee development is also evolving. If you are training and developing your employees the same way that you did 20 years ago, 10 years ago, heck, even just a couple of months ago, you are likely falling behind many of your competitors. In this episode, we are going to delve into some modern examples of training and development programs for employees. We could call this 2020 Training and Development Models, and the title would be quite descriptive.
2020 Training and Development Models
Years ago, my instructors and I created a series of videos for our website that would help people reduce public speaking fear. One of these videos focused on the different ways of acquiring presentation skills along with the pros and cons of each. Originally, this video has examples such as in-person seminars, books, audio files, videos, etc. That first video was relevant for a couple of years.
Eventually, we had to update it to include podcasts, webinars, and online courses. Last year, we had to update it again, because technology had changed so much, that even that video was outdated. In the last few months, though, Zoom has created one of the most revolutionary changes to skill development. This advancement has created a fundamental shift in the way that virtual meetings and online training sessions can occur.
Before I cover this advancement, though, let’s talk about a few basics of best training practices.
- In-Person Training with a Professional Coach is Still the Best Method to Develop Skills
If you want your employees to learn a new skill or strengthen a current skill, in-person training is still the best method. I realize that this method is not necessarily “modern”, but it is still the best method in 2020 to develop a skill. Keep in mind that gathering information and developing skills are two totally different concepts.
For instance, if I just need to know what my budget is this quarter, I can read that in a document. However, if I need to learn how to use the new budgeting software, and I have no experience using software like this, I will learn it faster if someone shows me how to do it.
As a trainer, the main question that you need to ask is the following. “If I just tell my team how to do this thing, how confident will they be right away?” When the answer is “very,” a document or a quick overview delivered in a meeting is fine. If you know they will feel very nervous, then some type of personal training will be more helpful.
- Training and Development Programs for Employees Have to be Interactive
Lecture style education programs have a very low success record. People learn by doing, not by sitting and hearing. For instance, in the Fearless Presentations ® we teach class members a step-by-step process that is easy to apply. We make the process even easier by teaching a single component or idea, have the class members practice and develop confidence in that concept, and begin to master that single component.
Then, as the comfort level in that skill grows, we add something new and do the process again. After a series of these successes, our participants gain confidence very quickly. If they were just sitting and listening to a speaker for two days, though, that wouldn’t happen. Making the content interact increases the retention of the content and the confidence to apply the skill later.
- Organizers Have to Give Employees Time to Develop the Skills
A big mistake that a lot of teachers make is to schedule training sessions in big chunks. If your sessions are too long, participants get overwhelmed. Too much information without application can be frustrating. When I first started teaching leadership classes, I structured my sessions into short, half-day modules. Then, I delivered the modules a week apart, so that participants would have time to apply the content.
For instance, when I taught my daughter how to ride a bicycle when she was little, I didn’t spend two days lecturing her. Instead, I taught her one simple thing — how to keep her balance. Then, I let her practice just that part for a while. Then, I taught her how to steer by leaning to one side or the other. I also gave her time to practice that part. When you are training employees, the same rules apply.
On the other extreme, trainers will sometimes stick short sessions into an already busy schedule. If a group only meets once a year or once a quarter, we try to squeeze an hour of training between the budget presentation and the new product orientation. In these instances, the participants don’t get a chance to develop the skills in the first place.
Each of these “Best Practices” for Training and Development Programs Has Specific Challenges.
Even though these items are best practices for training your team, they have built-in challenges. For instance, in-person training has logistical challenges. The people who need the training may be in different offices, states, or countries. And getting everyone together all at once can be costly and time-consuming. For instance, although our main office is in Dallas, I have dozens of instructors all over the world. Anytime we all get together for training, it is a significant investment for us.
If we choose to try to train everyone using online training or webinars, the process isn’t very interactive. Webinar platforms have added things like chat and polls, but the delivery is still pretty one-sided. A while back, I got an invitation to attend a webinar delivered by a well-known motivational speaker. It seemed like a great opportunity to learn something, so I logged in. Within a few minutes, though it was very clear that the webinar was just a recording. I knew because I was familiar with the software he was using. I doubt many of the other attendees noticed, though because it was really just a lecture.
Finally, giving participants time to apply the skill before sessions just isn’t logistically feasible. If it was already costly to get everyone together once, it certainly doesn’t make sense to do it over and over.
Advances in Technology Can Fix these Challenges and Enhance the Training Process.
This is where things get interesting because this is where things have recently changed dramatically. Technology can help you increase the retention and application of your training exponentially. It can also DECREASE the amount of time required to train your team.
- Zoom Breakout Sessions are a Fundamental Shift in Technology.
One of the biggest challenges with conference calls and webinars has always been background noise. Somehow Zoom has practically eliminated this challenge. I have been on Zoom calls with as many as 100 people without anyone having to mute themselves.
The biggest change, though, is the ability to send participants to small group breakout rooms. In fact, you can either manually assign the group to breakout rooms or the software can do it for you.
Here is an example of why this is so different. We are now able to conduct entire Fearless Presentations ® classes virtually through Zoom. In the past, we have done webinars and online sessions, but the sessions were fairly one=way. The instructor did the teaching, but we weren’t able to do a lot of interaction with the participants. Now we can, and it is very easy.
We can teach the entire group something important about delivering a presentation. Then, we can give them a few minutes to create their own presentation. Since the noise challenge has been fixed, participants can ask questions and the instructor can coach them right away. Then, we can send them to a private room where they can practice the presentation with just one or two other people. Once everyone practices, we have them come back to the full group.
These things sound simple, but this is as close to an in-person meeting as I have ever seen in technology.
- Virtual Sessions Allow You to Share Content and Store Data More Easily.
One of the things that we have done recently in our classes is moving away from printed manuals. (We still give them to class members, but many are now choosing not to use them.)
Our entire Fearless Presentations ® class along with all of the activities are online. So, instead of hand-writing notes during the class, participants enter their data into forms on our app. The data gets stored and the electronic elves behind the scenes send out completed visuals for the class members. This saves a tremendous amount of class time. It also documents the progress of each class member, so he or she can review the content at a later time as a refresher.
The best part about this process, though, is on the corporate side. When companies hire us to conduct training and development programs for their employees, the HR person or executive can track everyone’s progress and document the results.
- You Can Also Combine Live in-Person Session with Virtual Sessions to Save Travel Fees.
If you have limited time and budget for in-person employee development, technology can help here as well. We have seen great success with starting a training session with a short, half-day in-person session. Then, we add weekly virtual classes that often last less than one hour each. These interim sessions allow the instructor to teach a little more in bite-sized pieces. The sessions also allow the instructor to coach the participants through the process of implementation. Finally, you finish the program with a final in-person meeting once again.
If participants are in different time-zones you can get similar results with self-paced online training sessions. These interim sessions will only be made available to each employee during a certain time frame — for instance, they get access to a new session every week. In addition, the sessions can only be accessed if the employee has completed the prior session.
This is an incredible time-saver and increases retention dramatically. It also fixes the challenge of having the sessions spaced too far apart. Each online session reviews the previous content to increase retention in that way as well.
- You Can Also Use Virtual Training to Help When In-Person Meeting Time is Limited.
Technology can also solve those situations where teams only meet for a limited time and have a lot on the agenda. For instance, you could set up a virtual meeting a week before the in-person meeting to introduce the content. During the virtual session, give assignments to the group based on the content.
This way, during the in-person classroom training, you can maximize the time available by reinforcing content from the prior week and coaching participants in their application. You could also add in a few online follow-up sessions. Then, finish with a concluding webinar. All total, the team will only be spending about six hours in group training sessions, but they will be able to develop weeks worth of practical experience with the content.
This is a Fabulous Time for Training and Development of Employees
The point is that 2020 is a fabulous time for training and development of employees. With so many options available for training your employees, you can be creative and make your sessions fantastic.