Spotting Fakes: 3 Impostors, 3 Tips, and 1 Rad 80’s Hairstyle

Business efficiency is all about maximizing team performance while minimizing business costs. With that goal in mind, it’s no wonder so many companies are making the switch to virtual training for leadership development. But things aren’t always what they seem in virtual training. Here’s what to look for.

Choose the Right Virtual Leadership Development Company

Maximizing team performance while minimizing business costs. With that goal in mind, it’s no wonder so many companies are making the switch to virtual training for leadership development. Not to mention, the 2020 pandemic has forced many companies to move to a virtual training/education model with little to no preparation. Even post-pandemic, companies have already gotten a taste of the cost-effectiveness of it and want to continue utilizing it.

Making this switch not only makes leaders more effective within their organizations (the result of any good leadership development program). But more importantly, virtual training means there are no travel costs and no lost productivity from excessive time away from work. It also means teams spread over different states can now collaborate in training without moving from their office chairs.

Even though virtual training is becoming increasingly popular, not all virtual learning programs are created equally.

Can you spot the fakes? What to Look Out for in Virtual Leadership Training

More and more leadership development companies have jumped onto the virtual training bandwagon, but not all of them have gotten it right.

As the buzz over virtual learning has increased in the L&D and HR industries, leadership training and coaching businesses have responded in a few different ways:

THE TRENDSETTERS

Some providers have been desperate to prove that their company is the most technologically advanced and innovative of all, so they launch half-baked programs just so they can say their program is “virtual.” These virtual leadership training programs include some “patched-together” videos and downloadable worksheets, then called themselves “ahead of the curve.”

 

THE OPPORTUNISTS

Some management training and coaching companies saw the potential in virtual training as a way to scale their client base and product while minimizing actual effort on their end. This is because they (wrongly) believed that virtual management training meant you could cut out the human element—trainers, experts, and coaches. You can recognize these folks by their assembly-line training and no human-to-human elements outside of initial setup and technical support.

THE FOLLOWERS

Others accepted the change begrudgingly, even if they didn’t quite understand virtual business training. These companies are typically behind the gang, with clunky technology, short training videos that they probably used to supplement mid-classroom training back in the day, and pdfs of their old classroom worksheets for you to download and print out. Stepping into virtual training isn’t because these guys actually believe in the model; it’s just because they want to feel like they’re putting in the effort to at least try to “keep up.”

I’m no David Lee Roth

In high school and university, I was never the kid to jump on board with the latest trend. In fact, I was way more likely to be in the library studying the psychology of change management in organizations than rocking a mane of headbanger-worthy hair at the latest Van Halen concert.

So when I heard the industry’s urgings to make the switch to virtual learning in order to stay relevant, I wasn’t about to hastily throw something together so we could be one of the coolest, most technologically savvy leadership development companies.

If we were going to offer a virtual management training solution, it was going to be for the right reasons and we were going to do it in the best way possible.

Three Tips I’d Give to My Closest Friends: What You Should Look for in Virtual Leadership Development

Because of my background in organizational psychology, my first step to deciding how to step into virtual management training was to settle in with some good, hearty research.

Online or virtual management training approaches–I quickly discovered–were not all created equally. The choice between great versus not so great programs was the difference between 20-30% retention and 80-90+% retention with solid long-term application.

So what sets the bad programs apart from the good?

1 – Look for Real People Connecting With People

First and foremost, the most effective training still utilizes live facilitators in a group-learning environment. One of the biggest gaps between successful and unsuccessful training occurs when participants are removed from a situation in which they can interact with their peers.

Utilizing live instructors in a group learning environment means the training program, despite being virtual, still has the capability to be interactive (as opposed to a single participant watching a training video on his or her own).

In the best virtual management training programs, these facilitators create a participative environment in which the entire group takes part in discussions. This helps participants apply and expand learning by sharing (and therefore creating correlations to) their own personal experiences. Hearing how others apply that learning to their unique situations also strengthens retention. People are social creatures tuned to crave other people’s stories, so real discussions strengthen long-term retention by providing multiple perspectives of the same piece of information.

It also creates an environment in which questions and comments can be addressed in real-time by experts. This enhances the information learned as opposed to creating a speed bump that would stint the retention of information if the participants were instead left to wonder or research alone.

What does it look like?

At Leadership Choice, we utilize an online classroom environment that allows two of our top leadership coaches to host live-virtual training events with a group of participants. This functions basically like a virtual classroom (without travel costs, catering bills, or room rentals).

Participants are able to take an active role in the class with full audio discussion capabilities, chat, polls, and more.

2 – There’s Nothing Wrong With Needing Alone Time

While a great amount of learning is capable of taking place in a virtual group-learning environment, the best virtual leadership development programs use a mixed-learning approach that includes interactive self-study.

This can take many forms, but the most effective virtual management training programs include presenting information in a clear, interesting, and effective manner, then guiding the application of the material in the participant’s particular leadership situation.

The reason this mixed learning is important is that the best business training programs appeal to each different communication pattern. Each person learns a little differently, and a great training program takes that opportunity to present information in multiple different ways in order to cover every base. If this is done in a clear, concise, and interesting way, it will benefit every learner regardless of the communication pattern. This is because learning information using multiple media platforms creates stronger connections to information, increasing retention and on-the-job application.

Interactive self-study augments the virtual classroom environment by providing the participant with background information that strengthens the base upon which the rest of the knowledge can be applied. Studies show that when a person is introduced to basic information, given time to apply that information to their personal situation (if possible), then compounds that learning with an interactive group learning environment and the personalized guidance of an expert, their retention and real-life application significantly increases (to the tune of 300%).

What does it look like?

Leadership Choice augments virtual classroom training sessions by introducing an interactive workbook at the beginning of each learning module. This workbook supplies basic information about each concept before participants take part in the virtual classroom environment. By having this base of information and by having completed the internal exercises, it maximizes the impact of the group-learning environment. Participants are able to use the virtual classrooms as an opportunity to expand knowledge in a meaningful way that maximizes retention and long-term application.

These interactive workbooks are downloadable and use multiple medias and self-application capabilities to maximize learning.

3 – Take it Personally

Finally, one of the most important aspects of a successful virtual management training program is the capability to personalize the curriculum. This isn’t to say that every training module should be rewritten hundreds of times to suit each individual, but there should be a strategy in place that makes the content, goals, and outcomes applicable to the organization and each participant.

The reasoning behind this is threefold:

  • It increases retention. If the information is personally applicable, the participant is more likely to retain the information long-term and to apply it in a real-life setting. One of the major drawbacks of any training program–virtual or classroom–is that if a participant can’t see how the information is going to immediately affect him or her, they’re likely to dismiss the information.

The most successful training programs systematically relate each piece of new information to participants (or better, give the participants the capability, knoweldge, and guidance to do it themselves) so they can more easily see how the skillsets or mindsets directly apply to or affect them.

  • New strategies can be more effectively applied in alignment with company goals. The best virtual training companies aren’t one-size-fits all. They take into consideration an organization’s goals and help each team member apply new mindsets and skillsets to achieve these goals.

For instance, learning to delegate effectively to, in general, elevate a team’s performance is one thing. Delegating to elevate a customer service team’s performance in the trial run of a new SAAS product to better strategize how to efficiently roll out the product (and future products) to the rest of your clients is another thing.

  • This approach creates measurable business results. Instead of a training program that gives you the list of topics that it will cover, an effective training program will work with the organization and leaders to develop goals for training and for post-training continuation of development. This will typically include
    1. An initial meeting with the organization and leaders
    2. Follow-up with the participant throughout training to ensure goals are on track as well as to give the participant any resources or additional information/support needed to achieve these goals
    3. Long-term development plans post-training that ensure new skills can be measured and will be applied post-training in ways that best help achieve the organization’s goals.

 

How can you implement Performance Coaching in your organization? Read more about our virtual, on-demand program →

What does it look like?

 

Individual Leadership Coaching with Virtual Training Program

 

Personalization is perhaps the trickiest—though most important—aspect of effective training programs. Leadership Choice achieves this piece of the optimal virtual leadership development trifecta by assigning each participant to a personal leadership coach. Since these coaching sessions are held virtually, the coaching doesn’t add a significant cost to the organization but adds significant success to each participant’s completion of the program.

 

Vet Your Virtual Leadership Development Company–It’s Worth It! 

Studies show that when a person is 

  1. Introduced to basic information
  2. Given time to apply that information to their personal situation, then
  3. Compounds that learning with an interactive group learning environment and the personalized guidance of an expert 

their retention and real-life application significantly increase–as much as 300%!

 

About the Author

Pat Bosworth

Founder and CEO
Patrick effectively coaches leaders at all levels and across a number of industries with a pragmatic, consultative approach. Previously, he was vice president with Right Management and held other senior OD and development positions in manufacturing and the professional services Industries. He holds an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Lamar University.

In the employee training and leadership development industry, we are seeing more and more companies transitioning to a virtual training environment.

Virtual training is training that is completed online either in an on-demand or a instructor-led training environment.

Many companies making the switch choose virtual training (or e-learning) because it is more flexible, more affordable, and—when done properly—can be more effective than traditional classroom training.

On-Demand vs. Virtual Training Programs

When a virtual training program is on-demand it means information is available for any employee to begin any time. A live-virtual training program, however, contains instructor-led material.

There are different degrees of success in these programs. Success usually depends on the method and timing of delivery (read more about effective virtual training in this article). However, when executed successfully, there are many benefits to choosing virtual training over classroom learning:

1 – Virtual Training is Much More Flexible

While traditional classroom training consists of one or multiple days of classroom learning with group of team members, virtual training can be accessed from nearly anywhere. This means there is no need to coordinate time and travel for multiple participants at a time. Participants access their e-learning platform online and complete their lessons according to a designated timeline.

Many virtual management training courses such as Leadership Choice’s Connecting for Leaders Program are open-enrollment. This means there are typically programs on-going and a new participant can join at any time. This means participant don’t have to wait for a group of team members to be ready for training at the same time. It also means training can more easily fit into any employee’s schedule.

Many virtual training programs spread blocks of material over a longer period of time. This creates a more effective learning environment because it allows more time to digest information. Virtual training is also typically more flexible, with smaller increments of learning with some work being completed individually and collaborative meetings taking only short 1-3 hour time periods.

This means the training is typically less disruptive to the workday than a full- or half-day of classroom training. Since virtual training can be in small, often asynchronous chunks, it can more easily fit into a busy schedule. It is also less likely to take any significant chunk of time out of the workday, usually only requiring an hour or two at a time over a series of weeks.

2 – It is More Affordable

There are a few reasons why virtual training tends to be more affordable than traditional classroom training:

  • You don’t have to fly out a trainer or coach. Since virtual training can be delivered without in-person facilitator, your overall training costs won’t have to include trainer travel.
  • More participants can attend which usually means a lower price-per-person. Most training programs are charged per-participant, and more participants usually means a lower price tag. Since virtual training is more accessible and doesn’t require everyone flying out to one location, more employees are typically able to participate. This usually means a lower per-participant rate.
  • It doesn’t require travel or classroom costs. Where most traditional in-person training programs require travel costs, classroom rentals, and food costs, virtual training does not.
  • Less time away from productive work. Virtual training is usually broken up in smaller chunks delivered over 2-6 weeks. These smaller chunks are often fairly flexible, which means they can fit around an employee’s work schedule. Since they’re smaller periods of time, they’re also less likely to make a negative impact on productive work time as opposed to taking full days off for in-person classroom training.

3 – Virtual Training is More Accessible

Virtual learning works great for companies with multiple locations or who have employees who work off site.

Virtual training allows anyone with access to a laptop or computer and an internet connection to participate in training. This means more people are typically able to participate in the training.

We find this also often leads to a more diverse virtual classroom. Virtual classrooms are live discussions held in an online classroom. A conversation or training workshop is usually hosted by a live facilitator or coach. It is usually interactive, with participants collaborating and discussing ideas. Since training is more accessible and the classroom is more divers, we find the conversation is richer, more varied, and more effective than some discussions that take place between a group of people who interact with each other on a daily basis.

4 – Better On-The-Job Skill Application

Virtual training typically integrates easily into a regular workday and doesn’t require travel. This means participants can apply skills immediately in their work environment. It also means that instead of a long laundry list of new skills to remember, a  participant only has a few skills to work on at a time before moving on to the next lesson. This results in better retention and on-the-job application that traditional classroom learning.

6 Qualities of Effective Virtual Training

I recently watched a speaker discuss the subject of empowerment. In this speech, he made the flippant comment that “virtual training” was an oxymoron. “Don’t you have to see the action to be trained by it?” the speaker posed? Is there really such a thing as effective virtual training?

Virtual training is a newer concept in the leadership training and coaching world that takes what otherwise would have been a rigorous classroom experience and dispenses the material over the web.

The benefits of virtual training typically have to do with accessibility or affordability:

  • It’s more cost-efficient since there is no travel involved for facilitators or for participants. There’s also no need to rent facilities or loss of productivity from having team members away from the office for an extended period of time.
  • It’s less time-consuming than traditional training. While the training consumes on a whole the same amount of time as traditional classroom training, instead of a comprehensive 1- or 2-day workshop, the virtual training is typically broken into a series of short modules that can be completed over several weeks, better fitting into participants’ schedules.
  • It’s more flexible. Because the information is provided through an online platform, participants can access the learning wherever there is an internet connection.

But not all virtual training programs are created equally.

When comparing virtual training programs, you’ll find a massive quality range. How do you know which programs are most effective? Here are some characteristics to look for to ensure you or your team are receiving an effective virtual training program:

1 – There are Live Facilitators

Stay away from virtual training programs that simply dispense information through pre-recorded videos. These have low engagement, zero personalization, and make the participants feel like they’re simply being “talked at.”

Having a live facilitator means participants are able to ask questions about information as it is being presented and always have additional support when a concept is tricky to understand or when the participant wants to talk through a point with an expert.

2 – The Training is Interactive

As with classroom training, participants learn best not when they are simply listening to someone talk about material, but when the participant themselves are able to experience and apply that material.

Finding a virtual training program that engages participants in conversation, questions, brainstorms, quizzes, surveys, Q&A’s, and any other means for participant’s to share their voice and engage, means a much more effective learning atmosphere.

3 – Information is Presented Using Multiple Mediums

There are multiple studies that suggest that the more pathways you use to record information, the stronger the recall of the new information will be in a relevant situation.

An effective virtual training program will use not only utilize an engaging live, interactive virtual classroom, but will also include materials like an interactive workbook, storytelling videos, real scenario audio clips, coaching calls, etc. to teach new information.

4 – It Speaks to Each Different Communication Pattern

Everybody learns differently. Dominant communication patterns like to get right to the point and have the most important information bullet-pointed for them. Expressives and Amiables like to apply information to real people and understand how that information affects themselves. Analytical communication patterns like detailed information.

An effective virtual training program will use a combination of teaching methods that addresses each of these communication patterns for an environment in which each participant learns effectively.

5 – It is Coach-Supported

This one is important if you’re really looking for a training program that will provide real business impact over a long period of time.

A coach-supported training program is one where each participant is paired with an experienced coach who takes curriculum from the program and helps the participant directly apply it to their personal work situation.

The information is able to be personalized for each participant, making it immediately better understood and applicable, and most coaches will also develop a long-term action or development plan with the participant that creates accountability for the application of new skills.

6 – There’s a Follow-Up Program

Multiple studies have found that only 20% of the impact of training comes from actually learning the information; 80% comes from reinforcing that information. One of the most important considerations for an effective training program is how the curriculum is reinforced once it’s learned. This is why we say that multiple medias and coach support are two important aspects of an e-training program. It also means you should look for a program that has follow-up integrated as part of their platform using methods such as:

  • Long-term development plans that involve supervisors for simple but effective accountability
  • Social networking groups for discussion and troubleshooting
  • Follow-up emails
  • Follow-on exercises to reinforce skills

How can we help?

Our leadership development and employee training experts are happy to answer any questions you may have about virtual training. Feel free to give us a call or to fill out our contact form here.

by Patrick Bosworth

Effective Business Training & Development

The “flipped learning” concept has broken into the leadership development and management training industry, but what exactly is “flipped learning” and what does an effective flipped classroom environment look like?

In a flipped learning setting, students are given self-study materials that introduce a subject before any further learning takes place. The idea is that base information is effectively learned on one’s own, and provides a base upon which “expert information,” or information provided by an expert lecturer or facilitator, can be delivered.

The flipped learning pedagogy asserts that basic information can be learned independently, reserving classroom time for expanding on more complex ideas as well as focusing on how to apply the concepts back on the job. This better utilizes expert knowledge and hands-on participative activities, helping to maximize classroom or lecture time, and making the learning experience more effective.

Flipped learning is proven to be a more effective platform for training leadership than its traditional classroom-to-homework settings. A 2014 study by the European Journal of Open, Distance, and E-Learning put flipped classrooms to the test on students in the business department at the College for Academic Studies in Israel. According to the study, when trained with flipped classroom methodology, “students reported that [learning materials] between lessons enhanced interest, alleviated boredom, and enriched the learning.”

Not all flipped learning is created equal

However, not flipped learning atmospheres are created equal. For flipped learning to be effective, it must have the following qualities:

  • Relevant to the curriculum. Pre-work should not be an opportunity to crank out some of the boring or easy aspects of the curriculum so you can focus more on a “fun team-building” event when the actual training event occurs. Remember, a flipped classroom is supposed to strengthen and extend learning in the classroom/lecture/group discussion setting. Make sure your pre-work curriculum is building a strong, related base for the information that will be presented and discussed during the actual event.
  • Interactive and engaging. The way you dispense information for the pre-training self-study is important for setting the tone for the overall training program. It is your opportunity to pre-engage learners in the material, encourage them to apply the new basic information to themselves and their positions for better discussions during the event, and to create a base of information upon which the more advanced curriculum can be applied. Pre-work that includes multiple medias that appeal to different learning styles and senses, that includes story-based learning, and that encourages participants to individualize information to themselves and their professional situations, make the pre-learning most effective.
  • It should stimulate deeper thinking. The most effective flipped classroom self-study presents information in a way that makes the participant consider deeper connections, thoughts, and ideas around the curriculum.

As an example…

We typically don’t like to toot our own horns or come off as sales-pitchy, but our team of organizational psychologists and employee development experts have worked hard to create an effective flipped learning environment. Here’s how we’ve implemented the flipped learning model in our employee and leadership development programs. This model along with our reinforcement strategies has highly contributed to our 3X above average retention and long-term application rate:

Leadership Choice begins each of our programs with each participant taking an iConnect Communication Assessment. In addition to the participant learning about their own communication pattern, they also learn how to identify the communication patterns of the people around them. This information is used throughout every training module Leadership Choice offers, allowing participants to personalize the techniques learned for their own personal communication patterns and the communication patterns of others.

Besides creating more effective application in the workplace, it also helps learning to be more effective in the training and development classroom as it creates an easily-relatable base of knowledge upon which new information can be connected.

After this initial assessment is complete, the participant will also receive an interactive virtual workbook to complete before attending every live virtual training workshop. This helps to introduce the basic concepts of the material and to provide some exploration and assessment to help get participants’ minds thinking about the material, applying it to their personal business setting, and preparing them to ask more advanced and personalized questions while accelerating their learning.

Final thoughts on effective flipped learning programs

The most important consideration for self-study work in a flipped learning setting is making sure it’s providing a strong and personalized base to which participants can connect more advanced curriculum. By using this methodology, you better engage the participant while empowering him or her to have a more successful training or development experience.

How can you implement Flipped Learning in your organization? Read more about our virtual, on-demand programs →

About the Author

Pat Bosworth

Founder and CEO
Patrick effectively coaches leaders at all levels and across a number of industries with a pragmatic, consultative approach. Previously, he was vice president with Right Management and held other senior OD and development positions in manufacturing and the professional services Industries. He holds an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Lamar University.