Choose Virtual Tools Smartly
When designing virtual tools for L&D, be smart about it. The objective of any L&D initiative is to improve an organization’s viability, either through improving revenue or decreasing costs (both are foundational to almost every performance metric). We believe in the benefit of virtual training, but there are times when the value of in-person experiences (human moments) outweighs the cost savings of converting content to a virtual setting. When deciding on the best approach, ask yourself:
- What are my options for virtual training – classroom, on-the-job, virtual, blended, etc.?
- What are the limitations of each option?
- What mixture of options will best meet the core business objective?
Use virtual learning when end-users need context setting, access to informal best practices, access to just-in-time information, and introductions to processes. Use live settings when a human moment is needed: on-the-job mentoring, coaching, and performance management.
When was the last time you saw a textbook on the list of New York Times best sellers? When you were in school, how often did you pick up a textbook and say, “I think I’ll read this just for the fun of it”? Very few people like instruction manuals, textbooks, and overly detailed and complex materials… after all, we’re human. We like stories, biographies, simplicity, and real language. As Millennials are proliferating in the workplace, they are bringing their desire for real-speak rather than corporate-speak. Virtual training should address this desire by humanizing the language used to reflect an informal, direct style. Stories and experiences should be shared to make the material real. When appropriate, use a witty approach. If you are unsure if this approach will work for your company’s culture, simply try it on a small scale and see how the end-users respond… you may be surprised!
Emotions are a powerful and underused training tool. People remember best what they feel the most. People engage more in an organization when they feel connected to the big picture and know they make a difference. When using virtual settings for L&D efforts, incorporate emotional components. This can be done in several ways, but the goal is to humanize your end-customers. In the retail industry, create eLearning from the perspective of a customer and let employees feel how it is to walk in your customers’ shoes. In the biotechnical industry, create short documentaries that show how your employees save the lives of your end-patients. We often hear the phrase, “engage hearts and minds.” Too often, L&D organizations only engage the mind. To be more effective, we must engage the heart. With the proliferation of technology, this is more important than ever.