No Image Available

TrainingZone

Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Ceratops or chameleon? Developing skills remotely

default-16x9

chameleonThe recession has put a squeeze on budgets and is requiring trainers to drastically rethink the way they deliver training. Faced with the problem of delivering global training without a budget for travel, Michael Brown took a deep breath and set off on the technology route. Much to his surprise he found found it to be effective and not as hard as he feared.







There was one snag with my plan for a rolling programme of training around the world with a leading IT infrastructure provider – there was no budget for foreign travel.

Technology was of course the answer, and I rapidly realised I was faced with a stark choice. Either continue to see myself as someone who engages deeply with groups and captures the collective memory of the experience using no more than a flipchart pad and a Berol chisel tip, or get real.

Photo of Michael Brown"I can now see a future in which I can be at the leading edge of this new wave of delivering behavioural training in a high impact way without being in the room with people."
Be the trainer I need to be in order to ride out this extraordinary transition we are all going through. Stick with what I have learnt and found to work over the last 12 years, and wait for the market to come good again, or evolve.

Bluntly, do I need to be a Ceratops or a Chameleon?

I chose the Chameleon, and have learnt more in the last three months than I have in the last three years. I can now see a future in which I can be at the leading edge of this new wave of delivering behavioural training in a high impact way without being in the room with people. I’m hoping that this article will encourage others to put aside some of the fears they may have if they are facing the same challenge.

Here are the top three fears I had when I started:

  • 1. You can’t develop soft skills over the internet:
    Wrong. Not all the content lends itself to it, but plenty of it does. Just think carefully about your session structure, find discussion points and exercises which will get people involved and which you can facilitate remotely, and be ready to improvise when you go “on air”.

    My first ever session was probably as challenging as it gets: a session for 52 people in seven different locations (and three different time zones) using Cisco’s TelePresence video conferencing technology.

    I was only able to see three people at a time, but they could all see me all the time. We dealt with social styles for two hours, and it worked. The time flew by, they were engaged throughout, and the feedback was that the content really flew over this technology.

  • 2. I won’t know how to use the technology:
    Wrong. When they created these applications they designed them for idiots like me! I ran a session on 'Effective Meetings' last week for 20 people (California, London, Moscow, Bangalore, Hong Kong and Sydney were all on at the same time) and had never used the Webex tool before then.
    "I believe it is part of a fundamental rethink of the way we bring about learning, and the sooner people become skilled at it, the sooner organisations will start to see it as a primary vehicle for delivering learning."

    The co-ordinator set the meeting up, introduced me, and then handed over. I drove the slides, got them to 'raise their hand' on discussion points, and generally facilitated using many of the techniques I use in the training room. I was sitting at home with my laptop and built in webcam, and it couldn’t have been easier.

    Next step is to learn some of the fancier things, such as using a tablet laptop, getting them to use the whiteboard function and so on, but take it from me, as long as the content is good and you engage people from the start, basic users can still run dynamic and interactive sessions over the Internet.

  • 3. I won’t be able to keep them engaged for a session if I can’t see them:
    Wrong – to a point. This is one of the biggest challenges. People are so used to being on web conference meetings which are poorly run one-way monologues with no deliverables and little relevance to the participants, that a culture may have formed of trying to make better use of the time by doing email at the same time. Anyone running a session is up against this challenge. It has become habitual, and people have lost sight of how inefficient and unproductive it has made the meetings.

    The answer is to apply the same principles as we do in the training room. Make a personal connection with people, show the relevance, involve them, bring in the quiet ones, capture the discussion and ensure SMART actions from it. In my (limited – for now) experience these principles still work over the Internet. People respond well when they see a benefit for them, and they love interaction and involvement. So use it.

  • I don’t think, by the way, that this is a passing fad. I believe it is part of a fundamental rethink of the way we bring about learning, and the sooner people become skilled at it, the sooner organisations will start to see it as a primary vehicle for delivering learning. There will be some who don’t want to be a part of it, which is fine, but for those with the Chameleon outlook, it represents a great opportunity.

    Michael Brown runs his own training business, Michael Brown Training. Email: [email protected]

    Newsletter

    Get the latest from TrainingZone.

    Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

     

    Thank you!