This month we are featuring a guest blog from Jim Leligdon, a trusted colleague that I have known for over a decade. Jim is a highly respected, skilled, and knowledgeable expert in the field of training and development. Jim’s blog offers some innovative best practices that will help you immensely if you’re trying to train your employees in this new world.
Discovering How to Train Successfully and Safely Moving Forward
Navigating the implementation of your future training through the maze of unknowns due to the global health crisis is leading to new discoveries while also rethinking existing strategies.
The tools and methods may not be new, yet the way you think about and deliver each will feel different to everyone. “Traditional Classroom” will experience the most dramatic changes, yet the others will be used more frequently. Rather than review a collection of product and software options, let’s explore best practices for each of the following training methods:
- Virtual Platforms (Synchronous)
- eLearning Software (Asynchronous)
- Traditional Classroom
Virtual Platforms (Synchronous)
The recent need to “work from home” has forced you to decide if and how your teams could work outside the traditional office. There are numerous platforms for hosting meetings, yet not all are appropriate for training. Traditional “push-down” meetings are intended to deliver information to a group without much response other than the occasional question. That’s not training, that’s telling.
BEST PRACTICES: Think of the virtual classroom as a traditional classroom without the physical space.
- Choose a virtual platform that allows for a variety of participant interaction including hand-raising, chat, white-boarding, and breakout rooms.
- Limit the training group size to no more than 40 participants.
- Change gears every three to ten minutes to keep your participants actively engaged. In a virtual environment, attention span can slip even more quickly than in a traditional classroom.
- Think of virtual training as a broadcast. Add the role of a Producer to handle all technical issues which will free up the instructor to focus on the participants and the content.
eLearning Software (Asynchronous)
The good news is that your training team is probably already using asynchronous learning in some areas of your company’s training strategy. As with the virtual platforms, there are numerous software options. Since the in-person or “live” instructor is removed, there are some unique considerations to self study.
BEST PRACTICES: Think of eLearning modules as the old self-study guides without the paper.
- Choose an eLearning software that is user friendly for both designers and participants.
- Limit the length of each module to less than an hour. This will increase the probability of completion in one sitting.
- Build in self-checks throughout the module to reinforce the learning frequently.
- Include an option to print or download specific items for future reference. These items will become on-demand job aids.
Like eLearning software, video is already being used in most training departments. No matter the delivery vehicle (YouTube, Vimeo, or even your company site), your learners are already comfortable learning by watching a video. The “live” instructor is removed from this format as well.
BEST PRACTICES: Think of a training video as a one-on-one Learning opportunity… like on-the-job training.
- Limit the length of each video to no more than 5 minutes for task-based (need to DO) and 10 minutes for knowledge-based (need to KNOW) content.
- Allow the learner to see detailed or intricate steps close-up or maybe from the perspective of the person doing the work.
- Create a real or virtual practice environment, so each participant can physically practice skills or actively apply knowledge gained through the video.
- Include an option to download the videos as they are also on-demand job aids.
Unfortunately, due to the global health crisis, the future of classroom training will be anything but traditional. Within the past few months, company training has come to a stand-still. While the other three options allow for remote training, traditional classroom requires in-person participation.
You are encouraged to move at a cautious pace because there are some valid concerns about bringing large groups together too quickly. If the group is too large, it will be difficult to manage the current social distancing guidelines. At first, your participants may be reluctant to attend. Communication within the training room may be less comfortable if participants and facilitators are wearing masks. Distribution of course materials, facilitation of group activities, and scheduling of in-person training will need to be handled differently than in the past.
BEST PRACTICES: The health and safety of your instructors and participants is the primary focus of these recommendations.
- Require instructors, or anyone setting up the training rooms, to wear gloves and masks while setting the room for the training session.
- Assign seating, and place everything the participant needs in their work area. Consider including a course manual, a note pad, a pen, and maybe even a small bottle of hand sanitizer for each participant.
- Require both the facilitator and the participants to wear masks during the training session. I realize this creates some challenges when presenting. With facial expressions out of the picture, encourage your instructors to be more vocally and physically animated. E-n-u-n-c-i-a-t-i-o-n is key.
- Limit the training group size to no more than 40 participants. I know… you’ve got lots of people to train, and this will definitely slow the pace of progress. However, this choice will allow for social distancing in a large room. If breakout rooms are used, consider no more than 8-10 participants and 1 instructor per breakout room.
- Modify flip chart and other brainstorming activities by having the instructor write for the group on the flip chart or having the participants individually write in their own course manuals.
- Limit the use of shared props and equipment in the training room. Consider creating job aids that can be downloaded to each participant’s phone. If they use that download during class, they’re much more likely to access it back on the job.
- One practice that has remained intact is to change gears every five to twenty minutes to keep your participants actively engaged.
As you move forward into the new look and feel of training, keep in mind that no single solution will meet all of your training needs.
A blended approach will help you, your training department, and your organization navigate training in the new world.
Immersed in the training industry for more than 25 years, Jim Leligdon is currently focused on leadership and communication skills training.
He’s also worked as a technical trainer yet has spent most of his career as a trainer of trainers. Jim enjoys his memberships in the Association for Talent Development (A.T.D.), the Learning Guild, and the National Speakers Association (N.S.A.). Connect with Jim at: