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What is Getting in the Way of Learning and Development?


How Do You Get Past the Wait and Get Started Now?

No question, we’ve been through a serious crisis this past yearunlike anything we’ve had in decades, with broad-reaching implications and inherent challenges for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Many organizations rose to the occasion, identifying priorities and new goals and processes to put in place, and doing the now-famous “pivot” of how their business was done.

Savvy organizations recognized this was not just about processes and tasks, and they quickly identified the shift needed with people, specifically leadership, in the organization. Just having a work-at-home policy wasn’t enough, for example, unless it included guidelines and training and development for leaders to communicate, inspire, encourage, and challenge remote workers to adapt to this crisis. These savvy organizations saw the opportunity to do things that they could not do before. And it worked.

Former President Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel famously said in 2008, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. I mean, it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

Many organizations adapted to the crisis with a newly efficient use of resources, a different and oftentimes better use of equipment, new ways of communicating, andeven amidst the great challenges of the yearmany insights, opportunities, and lessons were embraced and executed and realized. The crisis did not go to waste.

Yet, that focus on people development, for many organizations, hit the back burner. While infrastructure adaptations took the driver’s seat and the need to protect revenues was Job One, in some organizations training programs and leadership development programs came to a screeching halt. In-person sessions were in a holding pattern for awhile, eventually succumbing to the realization they weren’t going to happen any time soon. Cancellations ensued.

But many organizations decided not to let the crisis “go to waste,” embracing opportunities to think differently, to be innovative and creative, and to figure out ways to deliver development programs that would work within the new environment. And those companies, while sometimes initially seeing mixed results with the delivery of the programs (adapting to virtual proved a steep learning curve for both the organization and the individuals), got better and more comfortable in shifting programs into this new reality. For the first time in their history, organizations seized the opportunity to do things they never thought they could do before.

change in the world of learning shifted to a degree never imagined before. And it is working.

For those companies still waiting for things to get back to normal so training programs can start back up again, consider the following:

  • No sense in waiting, the world is not getting back to the normal we were living in before the pandemic. In-person training will be a long time coming and, when it does start up again, it will most likely start out with a hybrid (both virtual and in-person). Virtual learning will be a part of the future, and it’s probably here to stay.

  • Start out with small steps. Ready to dip your toe in the water? Then do just that . . . just dip your toe. Start out by trying a one-hour virtual training, no bells and whistles, maybe just a discussion with a small group, for example. Choose a single topic that's low-risk, like “How We'll Engage Remote Learners".

  • Choose your platform. Honestly, some have tons of functions and capabilities, and some . . . not so much. When getting started, simple is oftentimes better. Take some time to choose what is right for you.

  • Ensure basic capabilities are in place. With any virtual platform, you’ll need to enable participants with the right hardware such as web cams and software to create the best experience. Take inventory and fill in the gaps so learners have what they need.

  • See what others have done. There are tons of examples of recorded online synchronous learning sessions. Check them out to see how it can be done and to leverage the successes of others.

  • Train your facilitators. There are quite a number of nuances in online learning workshops. Never let anyone go in “cold”. Tech issues can kill good content, so make sure you take the time to provide proper training of those delivering the training.

  • Fuel it with fun. Basically . . . RELAX! Have fun in this new world. Not everything needs to be delivered flawlessly the first time . . . or even the tenth time. Focus on connecting with others and engaging more with your learners.

Most importantly, don’t DON’T do it! In other words, wait no longer for the world to get back to normal. Put a plan in place to create the solution of your owna solution to address the training challenges of this past yearand don’t let this crisis go to waste. Do what Rahm Emanuel suggests, and seize the opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.

There is no better time.

Photo by Matt Ridley on Unsplash

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Linda Dausend

Linda Dausend CPLP, is a senior consultant at FlashPoint. Linda collaborates with clients to unlock the power of great leaders within their organizations.