It’s no secret that since 2020 there’s been a profound shift in the way business is done. Despite the negatives resulting from the arrival of a global pandemic, there was a monumental positive: It acted as a de facto fast-forward button that propelled companies into an inevitable future. Business leaders were forced to eliminate the “what-ifs” and instead act with conviction to survive.
As companies around the world found their footings and stabilized their ships, they turned to training as both a retention strategy and a tool to secure the footings of existing talent. But just as the companies themselves had to adapt to the new environment, their training partners also had to adapt swiftly to meet current-day needs.
New Training Methods
While traditional, time-tested, in-person training methods are still the gold standard, forward-thinking training partners have adapted their offerings in creative ways, making it possible to meet training objectives despite geographic limitations, travel restrictions, and health-related issues.
Recognizing the range of needs that exist across different populations within an enterprise, it’s incumbent upon organizations that are engaged as training partners to consider the rationale behind offering a wider array of training solutions. As the head of a 50-year-old global company recognized as a leader in the training space, we carefully crafted our solutions to exist at the cross-section of effectiveness and scalability.
It was a deliberate and strategic approach that led us to the menu of training options we currently offer. Having succeeded through the last two years and adapted to execute and thrive, it’s clear that training options today must include a variety of synchronous and asynchronous choices that can be delivered both in-person and online.
A Seismic Shift in Training Needs
There’s no point in history where learning and development objectives were static for companies of all shapes and sizes. Such objectives have always been in a continuous state of evolution. Of course, things sped up as technologies broke down geographic barriers and enabled companies to expand their global footprints more efficiently. This led to a greater need for improved capabilities to better manage and retain talent, which naturally gave way to a deliberate investment in talent that increased training budgets.
Even with that constant state of flux, the onset of the pandemic was a game changer. Although companies adapted their policies and changed operational structures dictating a host of procedures, they also reconsidered how investments were directed to learning. With the wholesale changes they made, a battery of new talent issues were brought to bear, and smart leaders recognized the need to address them quickly.
As we’ve learned over the recent past, retaining talent is urgently important. But that’s not where it ends. Preparing talent for bigger roles; equipping employees to work in a virtual world; and finding ways to develop virtual innovation, ideation, and collaboration are all a result of a shrinking and virtual workforce.
Using Technology at Scale
It was fortuitous that technology and connectivity were at such a scalable stage when the world went into lockdown. This enabled organizations to continue operations, and it also gave training consultants the ability to learn what was needed in the face of such unprecedented operational changes. Forward-thinking consultants acted swiftly to redevelop and deploy new offerings that provide significant value.
Traditional, in-person training programs, delivered synchronously to small groups, were suspended and gave way to virtual delivery. Such virtual programs are still delivered synchronously in small groups but can be attended from anywhere via a videoconferencing portal. Moving from in-person to online allowed organizations to continue receiving the important training their teams needed and removed risk factors associated with travel and classroom settings.
With the pandemic-related shift, it became clear that companies sought ways to capitalize on digital learning. Asynchronous digital learning platforms quickly evolved to be designed against specific learning objectives. Such an asynchronous offering, which, by design, allows trainees to participate on their own schedule through their laptop, is focused on competency development.
Ultimately, the learning objectives drive the design of which options—synchronous or asynchronous, virtual or in-person—are required. For example, the size of the team that needs training certainly impacts the options for design when it comes to in-person versus digital, scale and speed of execution, and budget. Given the increasing ranges of options, good training partners have heeded the call to serve broader learning and development strategies. The options training partners now offer enable companies to invest in, retain, and greater equip their work forces at scale.
Assessing Training Programs
After clearly communicating the learning objectives for a training program, companies must be assured that the training program being offered can help them to achieve those learning objectives and deliver outcomes that will matter. The best way to assess is to consider how a proposed solution will generate the desired result.
For example, if the learning objective is “improved executive presence,” there’s a highly personal development aspect that can’t truly be achieved in a measurable way from digital synchronous and asynchronous training platforms. That kind of profound personal development requires direct, in-person training because it’s behavioral and achieved only with live, experiential coaching from a credentialed expert.
On the other hand, if the goal of the training is to impart the “hows” and “whys” of a new process across a large population, an asynchronous digital platform is likely the best, most scalable and cost-effective means of doing so.
In two short years, the entire face of business has changed in ways we never could have predicted. And while circumstances are different, needs are not. Now more than ever, training is a powerful competitive advantage. Companies meeting or exceeding financial expectations are those that understand the critical requirement of developing and retaining talent. Understanding how the landscape of training options has changed, how they can benefit your organization, and how best to employ them is what will successfully advance your company, no matter what the future holds.