By Wayne Turmel
When you’re training your team members, you want to help them reach an appropriate level of skill or knowledge as quickly as possible. You can do that in a number of ways, and they don’t all involve being in a classroom. Certainly, the social element of learning together helps, but here are three really effective ways to train your remote employees:
Make it a priority
It’s way too easy to say that it “cost too much” or that “it can wait” or that your employees are getting by “just fine” without it. While you delay, however, productivity suffers. Costly mistakes occur. Turnover increases. Think of training as an investment (not an expense) in your people and your organization.
Use Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT)
In this type of training, employees learn in real time from a subject matter expert. The training can be done one-on-one or in a group. Just be sure to keep VILT training groups small to maximize interaction. Also keep the modules short. One concise, interactive training session will be more effective than long lectures where everyone forgets what you’ve said as soon as it’s over. Also, use tools like Cisco WebEx and Lync to allow learners to participate as much as possible.
Record people performing skills and narrating what they’re doing
You could record yourself, an employee or even someone you hire, and create a short video. One of the huge advantages of digital gadgetry is that we now carry video cameras in our pocket, and tools like Lync and Cisco WebEx offer recording features. Plus, simple tools like Captivate will record screen captures that you can then upload to private YouTube or Vimeo channels. Or put the files on SharePoint or some other shared drive for 24/7 reference. Essentially, you teach a skill once, and then create a permanent training tool to share with new hires or employees who need to learn that skill.
Recruit team members be the trainers
Studies show that peer-to-peer training is highly effective, and it’s a great way for team members to get to know each other. If Bill is the smartest person at using Salesforce and Sharon is an Excel wiz, have them teach their coworkers those skills. You not only enhance team communication but also you help people to understand internal protocol and processes very quickly.
Apply it in the real world
The best training programs in the universe aren’t beneficial if the knowledge and skills gained aren’t immediately put to use. It starts with you offering practical training that is relevant to employees’ work. The training continues long after the training session when you plan for and create plenty of opportunities for employees to put those new skills and knowledge into action. Whenever you plan a new training session, ask: “How will we use this skill/knowledge on a regular basis?” and “How will it specifically help us?” If you don’t have clear answers to those questions, reconsider the value of the training.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Wayne and Kevin’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, offers a roadmap for success not just for leaders, but for everyone making the transition to working remotely.