With face-to-face events and meetings canceled and the furloughing of staff at all levels, among the many challenges companies are facing is how to ensure that they can continue to develop their workforce capabilities, particularly for leadership roles. Remote working has forced a rethink of the value of virtual learning and what can be revamped, reconfigured and created from scratch to ensure that the current situation does not bring learning to an abrupt and sudden halt.
Now is the time for learning and development (L&D) and human resources (HR) leaders not only to look for temporary measures to mitigate future problems but to push innovation and be the driving force of change they are intended to be. They can do so by applying a new lens on how to invest in and deliver remote leadership training.
From practical and tactical steps to more strategic suggestions, here are some tips for ensuring that training stays on track and supports individual leadership development.
Take Stock of and Reprioritize Your Learning and Development Agenda
Start by reviewing what you had planned for the rest of 2020, and consider which capabilities rise to the top and, equally important, which new capabilities you need to add. Ask yourself why you are training your leaders. Is it for compliance? Are you working based on personal development plans (PDPs)? Or are you training and developing leaders as part of a wider business strategy? Knowing the “why” will help inform the “what” and give you time to consider how you can deliver a training program for each outcome — remotely.
Is most of your leadership training focused around soft skills, like time management, or more technical skills, such as using Microsoft Excel? These examples are simple, but knowing the types of skills your leaders need will inform the technology and recommendations you use to help them continue to learn successfully while working remotely.
Reassess Your Digital Capabilities
The statement that “necessity is the mother of invention” has never been truer. HR and L&D teams who have argued with their C-suite or senior leadership team for years about investing in remote and eLearning solutions and been told it’s not a priority time are now being asked to deliver on all fronts.
By now, you will know where the holes lie in both your digital capabilities to maintain training levels and standards and the willingness of your leadership teams to engage with the training. Look critically at what you have achieved with your training to date, and determine whether your current delivery methods and strategies are delivering the right results for both individual and business goals.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Now is not the time to finally roll out that big training initiative you have been working on and are desperate to run. Companies with employees, especially leaders, on furlough will see this time as an opportunity to train, train, train and ensure everyone is upskilled to within an inch of their lives so they are ready to hit the ground running when they return to work — which is a mistake. Life happens in and around work in normal circumstances and now, we are all busier than ever. The last thing you or your leadership team needs is to undergo new, in-depth or lengthy training programs.
Keep business goals in mind when designing and delivering training, as always, but make it manageable. Bite-sized chunks with regular feedback and milestones will help keep leaders focused and on target, whether they are training for their PDP or a broader business goal.
Engage Others in the Redesign of Training Content
Working with your internal resources or external providers, redesign the content that you had planned for in-person delivery so that it is virtual-friendly. Determine the key learning objectives of each of the session topics, and then brainstorm how to recreate and enhance an “in-person feel” virtually. Equally importantly, list out possible challenges what you can do to overcome them.
Plug Short-term Gaps With Long-term Solutions
This new and unplanned scenario of remote working may prove to be beneficial by highlighting how you can apply new and innovative ways to build leadership capability and spot gaps in your current training programs. For example, a likely scenario that may crop up while businesses are working remotely is one of poor communication. While classified as a “soft” skill, clear and effective communication is always critical to business goals. It is often pushed further down the training agenda for other, more technical skills.
If your leadership team is unable to communicate effectively, it can have a devastating impact on the rest of the business in both the short and long term, whether you are working remotely or not. Use this time to identify training opportunities for your leadership team that they can carry with them into the future and help solve immediate problems within the business. Your future self, and your current and future leaders, will thank you for it.