People Alchemy Ltd

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How can L&D deliver behaviour change remotely?

PUBLISHED: 07/10/2020

During the months since the Coronavirus was declared a pandemic, we have spoken with a lot of Learning & Development professionals and read accounts of the things that they have been doing. The activity has been amazing, not just in L&D but in the way that companies are rapidly changing their operating models. Collectively, we have a lot to be proud of. We have noticed that in many ways, people have been transiting through the Kübler-Ross Grief Curve. Some are much further through than others. Perhaps you can relate to this or you have seen this in friends.

The best short term responses came from those in L&D who asked themselves a simple question along the lines of “What do WE

need to do to help our people do what THEY need to do in the cir...stances they are in TODAY?” Given so much of what we are dealing with as a result of COVID-19 is new, it is most unlikely that anything that we were doing way back in January 2020 is a valid response to this question. Are you still delivering anything now that was considered business as usual back in January?

In times of significant change, it is so easy to yearn for what was, and to try and deal with the new reality without to it. It is a natural response to utilise as best we can the tools we already have, partly for familiarity, but also because it is quicker, simpler, and easier. The upshot of this is that the initial reaction of so many trainers to lockdown was to start transitioning their face-to-face training courses into a virtual classroom. They focussed on what platform to use and how to tweak the design of their existing courses to allow them to be delivered online. In effect, they ‘webinised’ their training course. Indeed, some have even just posted videos of classroom sessions online! For those who have applied a quick fix and ticked the ‘deliver online’ box for a training course, my concern is that this temporary solution delivered in urgency continues without a proper evaluation of the results it is achieving in terms of performance improvement.

There are very few cases where this initial sticking plaster response will stand up over time. Some organisations were already using virtual classrooms and blended online learning approaches, and this experience stood them in good stead as they responded to the new needs of their employees. Other organisations have been pushed into online delivery without this experience. They were not in a state of readiness to transfer their learning online, even if it was in their longer-term L&D strategy. COVID-19 didn’t introduce online learning, but it did make online learning an imperative.

One thing has become abundantly clear: L&D will not be returning to what it was before COVID-19. There have been huge changes in the short term, and many of these changes are likely to linger. The world has changed, we have changed, and there is a lot more change coming as organisations adapt to a world we cohabit with this new virus. We need to find a balance between what worked before and what will be needed in the next normal, and we need to do this at speed. There are many ways to deliver training and a myriad of possible blends. Think of these as different species adapting to a new environment.

Which ones will suc...b to the forces of natural selection? The consensus is that face-to-face training will return but at greatly reduced levels, probably much less than 50%, and then will continue to decline as it is found wanting in comparison to the alternatives we are busy creating now through necessity.

Except for niche solutions, face-to-face training will lose the battle for survival of the fittest. The customers we serve know that, much as they might prefer it, we can’t currently deliver face-to-face training, and we may not be able to do so without social distancing for some considerable time. Our customers are expecting training to change and any resistance to online delivery that may have been present has been swept aside.

This gives us an incredible window of opportunity to make changes we have been wanting to make for years — changes that were blocked by cultural and management inertia. There is indeed a silver lining in this COVID cloud. It’s been said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” So how can we benefit from the current lack of resistance to change arising from this crisis?

How to Reboot Training for 2020 and Beyond

This guide steps you through a process to figure out what those changes to training need to be. And it starts with taking a step back...

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