Thanks to COVID-19, in-person professional development is on hold for the foreseeable future. While many businesses have already made the shift to working with live online training providers like Hone, to help their employees continue learning the skills they need to succeed in the ever-changing modern workplace, others are painstakingly adapting their in-person training curriculum into the new virtual training format.
This year especially, employees and managers needed the skills and knowledge to know how to lead through change, adapt to working from home, lead dispersed teams, and more. Live online learning gives employees the ability to learn these skills and more wherever they are in the country.
While some businesses and L&D teams might be hesitant to turn to live online training for the first time, we’ve found this type of training can actually be better than classroom training in many ways. It’s more cost-effective, scalable, inclusive, flexible, safe, and ultimately, more effective.
That said, the switch to virtual learning isn’t without its own challenges. Done incorrectly, your live online training sessions might suffer from not being as engaging or as effective as they could be.
At Hone, live online training is our focus and we’ve made mistakes along the way that we’ve been able to learn from. In this article, we’ll break down common virtual learning challenges and share how you can improve your engagement, effectiveness, and measurement. Here’s how you can perfect the way you train your remote team:
How To Make Remote Team Training Engaging
Even when its mandatory, workplace training can still be fun, engaging, and memorable. Here’s how you can keep things light, fresh, and personable in your virtual classes:
Through Learning Experience:
- Keep sessions short: Aim to limit sessions to 60 minutes or less, so you have everyone’s full attention.
- Interact with attendees every 3-5 minutes: Use polls, questions, breakout rooms, etc. to help keep everyone engaged.
- Ask questions before presenting material: This invites people to speak up and share their thoughts makes the class more interactive
- Present material in bite-sized steps: This will keep you from overwhelming your student’s working memory.
- Break up long sessions into 3-4 session sprints: If training takes too long, people’s attention will wander and your training sessions won’t be effective. If you have a lot of subjects to cover, teach it over 3-4 separate 60-minute sessions over the course of a few weeks. At Hone, we’ve seen that format work really well and designed our Learning Tracks around this principle to improve knowledge retention.
- Call people by their name: This helps create a more personal connection and lets everyone in the class know they are seen.
- Have a “camera-on” expectation: This allows participants to engage with each other more, as well as read body language and facial expressions.
- Set the ground rules for interaction up front: These are the house agreements we have at the beginning of every Hone class: keep your video on, be present and resist multitasking, be an active participant, and remind everyone this is a judgment-free space.
- Make sure everyone is participating: Encourage everyone to participate and don’t be afraid to call on people.
- Pop into breakout rooms to see how conversations are going: Don’t feel like you need to police participation, but hop into breakout rooms to answer questions and get a pulse for what students are discussing.
Through L&D and People Leadership:
- Get participant buy-in: At Hone, we’ve found our customers who get active buy-in from their teams prior to a program are more successful than those who don’t. This could be sending out an email outlining the expectations of the program, assigning homework or a capstone project, or getting people to make a commitment ahead of class.
- Focus on the change you’re aiming for: It’s a lot easier to get buy-in when you’re focused on what behavioral or cultural changes you’re looking to achieve, rather than the program itself.
- Encourage leaders to show up to training sessions: Have company leaders make an appearance at the beginning of the training session to thank attendees for their time and to remind them why this training is important. This can help raise morale and encourage participation.
- Keep classes small: Limit training cohorts to around 15 participants to ensure everyone has a chance to participate and to allow you to update the program over time if needed.
How To Make Remote Team Training Effective
Workplace training sessions that don’t lead to long-term memory and procedural knowledge retention are a waste of everyone’s time. In order to build a truly effective virtual learning program, you need to teach employees new habits and hold them accountable for what they learned. Here’s how:
Through Learning Experience:
- Target behaviors, not topics: Behavior is not a one-off task or action, it’s the way somebody acts in response to a stimulus. Skills like giving feedback, having coaching conversations, and leading one-on-ones with your direct reports, are behaviors that are relevant to any employee in a managerial or leadership role.
- Focus on procedural rather than declarative knowledge: Declarative knowledge refers to facts or information stored in your memory (e.g. the difference between a mountain and road bike). Procedural knowledge refers to things that you know how to do (e.g. how to ride a bike). Declarative memories are easy to form but are also easily forgotten. Procedural memories are more durable, so your students will be able to remember what they learn and actively apply those skills to real-life scenarios.
- Have learners make commitments at the end of each live session: At the end of every Hone class, we ask our learners to write down one commitment they’ve made for the week using what they just learned. This helps hold them accountable and think of ways to apply the learning directly to their personal or professional life.
- Split learners into accountability groups of 2-4: Periodically split up into small group breakout sessions so students can discuss course material and practice applying the skills you’ve discussed.
- Assign capstone projects: At Hone, this is when we have learners apply what they have learned to situations in the real world. It not only allows students to deepen their understanding of course material, but it also allows them to understand how they can use the skills they’ve learned in their personal or professional lives.
- Start class with a review of previous materials: Quickly review the key-takeaways from your last class to give everyone a quick refresher and ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Check-in on commitments at the beginning of each session: Revisit the commitments participants shared at the end of the last session and see if anyone has questions on how to apply what you learned in real-life.
- Get people to share their capstone projects: The fourth session in a Hone sprint is the capstone session. We have people share their capstone projects and talk about their results.
- Invest in virtual facilitator training: Someone who is a great in-person facilitator might not necessarily be a good virtual facilitator. Make sure they’re familiar with the tool you’re using and are experienced in remote teaching.
Through L&D and People Leadership
- Clarify behavior expectations and KPIs: This will help you measure the effectiveness of your L&D initiatives. For example, if you’re trying to encourage more managers to have regular 1-on-1 meetings with employees, your KPI might be “Have 80% of our people report they are having consistent 1-on-1 meetings every week by X date.”
- Tie training to moments of need: People are more motivated to learn during moments of need (e.g. show your people how to give feedback right before annual performance reviews). Some key moments of need include becoming a manager, performing annual performance reviews, learning how to interview job candidates, or dealing with organizational changes.
- Stay engaged: As a facilitator, you can keep people engaged by asking questions, leading discussion groups, and encouraging students to apply the skills they learned in real-life.
While the switch from in-person professional development to virtual can seem intimidating, it can be done, and, with some effort, your workplace training can be more effective than in-person training. You can also turn to a live online training solution like Hone that already has hundreds of online classes proven to teach managers the skills they need to succeed in the modern workplace.