Virtual training? No problem! Start with these 6 important tips
Our world shut down abruptly in March 2020 due to COVID-19. As most companies gradually re-opened their offices in the past year, many employers continued allowing their staff to work from home, or adopted a hybrid work environment. While this “new normal” has benefits, it’s also created some challenges in the workforce. Successful remote training is one of them!
I’ve had the opportunity to be the trainer and trainee in the past two years. In that time, I’ve learned a few things about efficient, effective virtual training with remote employees… here are my 6 best tips for making remote training a success!
Tip #1: Create a training agenda
You might expect this from a Project Manager, but my first tip is probably the most important one for both the trainer and trainee. An agenda with a timeline really will make it easier for both parties to track progress. Outline the topics for the training – including deadlines – and share it with the trainee. Being organized and on schedule (even if you’re not a Project Manager!) is one of the key ingredients in successful training.
Tip #2: Turn video ON
It’s tempting to turn your video off, whether it’s because of a bad hair day, a late lunch or other home-life distractions. But it’s important for both the trainer and trainee to keep the video ON for remote training sessions. Facial expressions and body language will help clarify meaning, promote question asking and reduce misunderstandings. Furthermore, applications like Zoom and MS Teams allow screen sharing, which makes demonstrating much easier.
Tip #3: Listen!
Remember that old saying, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak”? Well, it certainly holds true for remote employee training! The trainee needs to listen closely to make sure they understand the trainer, especially if this is an industry with specific terminology or jargon.
As a trainer, make sure to listen to trainee’s questions and comments – and give them multiple opportunities to respond. What may seem straightforward to the trainer might not be for the trainee! Part of listening is doing – so ask the trainee to repeat a process on screen to ensure they understand their task at hand.
Tip #4: Engage your trainee
This may sound painfully obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: Trainers, do not read from a training manual. I’ve found that interactive training, with a lot of back and forth, keeps trainees better engaged – and reading from a script will not keep them engaged for long! This is critical in remote employee training, considering the number of distractions that exist while working from home.
So mix it up – use a variety of techniques – tutorial videos, quizzes, demonstrations, reverse instruction (where the trainee explains the process they’ve just learned back to the trainer). Above all, keep them engaged by continually engaging with them.
Tip #5: Ask questions
There are no dumb questions! As a trainer, the best thing you can do is encourage questions and feedback to measure your trainee’s progress. Make sure you create a virtual environment where the trainee knows that their questions aren’t just tolerated, but expected.
Tip #6: Follow Up
Remote training with a set meetings and agendas means that spontaneity often goes out the window. The trainer can’t wander over to their trainee’s cubicle, chat with them, take a look over their shoulder as they work on an issue or question. So it can be much harder to identify a trainee’s questions based on observations alone.
Make sure to schedule follow-up sessions in advance! Setting up these sessions to check in on your trainee’s progress is important – and it will give your trainee additional opportunities to ask questions or voice any issues they’re experiencing. In addition, be flexible and adjust the training agenda as needed.
Remote working allows us an incredible opportunity to not just work in our comfiest pants, but to work with talented people from all over the country – something that in-office work environments didn’t allow us to do! As you consider new hires who may need to be trained remotely and begin to put together a plan, use these 6 tips to put together an efficient, effective plan that will make your virtual training sessions a huge success.
Check out last week’s Quick Shot – “3 Tips for Great Creative Collaboration?”