Meeting Training Objectives in the New World Order of 2022
By SCOTT WEISS
Whatever shape “normal” takes from here forward, there’s no question that business operations have changed more in the past two years than they ever have before. For better or for worse, the Covid pandemic acted as a gravity-assist slingshot that propelled business and technology forward into an inevitable future. In fact, we were fortunate that the technologies we rely so heavily on today were at a stage in 2020 where they could be fast-tracked and rolled out to service the needs of our collective organizations. Add in a little creativity and some experience to guide things along and today we’re able to efficiently achieve goals regardless of changes in the new-world infrastructure. Nowhere is that more evident than in the world of training.
Three Forms of Learning There are now three ways learning occurs. Synchronous learning occurs in real-time with students and instructors all present and collaborating at once, such as in a classroom setting. However, there is now a further dissection of synchronous learning methodologies: in-person and virtual. Both occur in live classrooms with live instructors, but one happens at a fixed location with all attendees physically gathered together, and the other takes place via a videoconferencing platform. Asynchronous learning happens on one’s own time, such as what happens with a workbook, or through a self-guided tutorial. Most typically in today’s new world order, asynchronous learning occurs digitally via a cloud-based platform on one’s laptop. Each of these three learning delivery methods has its benefits and drawbacks, but there’s naturally a happy medium where all three are now powerful options for various teams and environments. Ensuring that there’s substance to the training, regardless of what’s being taught and how it’s delivered, is the most critical factor.
The Impact of Learning Methods Traditionally, synchronous learning experiences offer the most immersive, deepest, and profoundly habit-changing experience. As the leader of a 49-year-old consultancy that was built on a foundation of synchronous, experiential communication training delivered by exceptionally trained 38
full-time instructors, I’ve seen the impact such immersive courses can have on an organization’s people and its bottom line. Classroom-based training, with an instructor present who possesses the expertise to engage with the student at a deep level, helps participants to improve their communication behavior and allows them to evolve in an authentic and meaningful way. In the world of communication, asynchronous learning lends itself more to intellectual aspects, such as message strategy development. When it comes to evaluating training programs across any enterprise, and how to roll them out, it’s urgently important to understand how that training will help you to meet business objectives. Once you’ve settled on the right kind of training, you can then determine the level of investment you can afford to make in order to train at scale. This has always been true, but the impact is even more pronounced in the new world order. Among the various ways that exist to train staff, let’s consider these three primary forms that the global business community has embraced.
In-Person Training Synchronous, in-person training programs, whether you travel to them or they travel to you, will still offer the greatest impact and return for anyone who attends. Direct, face-to-face instruction led by an experienced trainer offers the most profound experience. The biggest limitation to rolling out an in-person training program at scale is geography and cost. In-person training programs require all participants and leaders to be in the same place at the same time. For most organizations this involves travel, not only in terms of cost, but in terms of managing logistics. If the investment can be made, the returns are tangible, particularly at more senior levels within organizations.
Virtual Training The primary alternative to in-person training is virtual training. With the accelerated deployment of live virtual platforms like Zoom, WebEx and Teams, live virtual classrooms executed with excellence can replicate almost all aspects of in-person learning, but it will never be exactly the same. Virtual training is also far more scalable since it eliminates any geographical concerns and it enables more diverse populations across any enterprise to participate at once. The only limitation is the size of a class, which must be manageable for an instructor to deliver training effectively.