5 tips for training your staff virtually

April 28, 2020

With the shift to working remotely fully underway and possibly a few virtual trainings under your belt, now is the time to start looking at optimizing your approach to training. Here are five tips to create an effective learning environment. 

1. Dive into the tools available to you and iterate

Start with the training content and solutions you are already using, including what is available from shared network files, fillable PDFs, email and your Learning Management System (LMS) such as CUNA Professional Development Online (CPD Online). Next, gather feedback from your learners—virtual evaluations, email or even polls—for even better future engagement and results. “You are facing a different learning problem than you are used to solving. Don’t be afraid to experience and reiterate,” says Tobi Weingart, instructional design manager at CUNA.

Smooth out the bumps in training delivery to provide the best professional experience you can. No detail is too small. Consider your appearance, voice volume and picture quality. Also, it’s never too late to brush up on your platform’s how-to-guides for technical direction. If running a live training, make it a habit to do a practice run ahead of time to prevent any issues from cutting into valuable learning time.

2. Keep it engaging!

Utilize various mediums for your learners to interact with you, other learners and the training and blend learning between synchronous, real-time training, and asynchronous training, online courses or video. “Utilizing a blended learning approach allows trainers to keep their synchronous sessions shorter and engagement high because of the various modalities,” says Alicia Steindorf, director of online learning strategy at CUNA.

During synchronous training keep webcams on, use screen sharing when possible and encourage discussions in chat or with annotation tools. Overall, aim to get your staff invested in the material and involved in ongoing conversations as well as social learning before and after training with virtual discussion boards or shared documents for Q&A.

3. Make friends in IT

Your IT department has the full overview of the technology that your credit unions uses. They may be aware of options and features in those systems you can use to enhance your virtual training—without having to pay for additional subscriptions. Take the time to review your training program and goals with them to ensure you are accessing all the tools that are available. Also, your IT team can help you to run a rehearsal ahead of time or be present at the training to smooth over any tech issues as they happen.  

4. Use video-enhanced training

Video can help you easily demonstrate desired behaviors you’d like to see for both technical and soft skills. If you’re discussing how to avoid common mistakes when filling out lending or any other application, make sure to have a video component to avoid misinterpretation. Even having a video for teller interactions can reveal details that would be cumbersome to describe in text.

5. Focus on human needs

Keep in mind that these are hectic times as many employees are trying to juggle their work and family. Ideally, avoid scheduling training for more than 90 minutes at a time and build in a sufficient amount of breaks. Asynchronous learning tools such as the recordings available within CUNA Training Bundle enable staff to do training on their own schedule.

Consider how synchronous training gives you and your staff a chance to reconnect and strengthen bonds. Have some fun! This advice also applies to training new hires; you’ll want to inject a sense of your workplace culture into your training to start building a strong relationship from the start.

Transitioning from in-person to virtual training is not a one-and-done process. Through continuous improvement, even small changes, you can elevate your training. “You know your learners and what works best for them – be confident,” says Weingart.

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