The ongoing pandemic combined with the events of the past year have created a new normal for millions of people around the world. Many companies have gone fully remote and intend to stay like that. For other companies, normal office life is on the horizon, but not a feasible reality quite yet. While we are still adapting to this new normal, business must go on. Employees need the training to continue the normal business process. Training employees remotely is one of the biggest challenges of the new normal.
Most trainers prefer to be in the same space as the person they are training as in-person instruction is often the most efficient way to teach someone a new task. Explaining details and answering questions when you cannot see exactly what the other person is talking about is undoubtedly tricky. However, it is an undeniable factor in our new everyday life even if just for the time being. Thankfully, you are not limited to low-quality video sessions. There are some tips and tricks you can use to better train employees in our current world state. While no system can fully replace in-person learning, technology can make the process much easier. It is also more practical, allowing everyone to stay safe during these unprecedented times.
Most people are familiar with chicken scratch instructions that are missing details and that were clearly made for someone who already knew about the work process. Receiving documents like those is like being handed a puzzle without all the pieces and expected to put it all together. New instructions are often written by someone who, though an expert in the area, cannot clearly convey the instructions or the guidelines. If your training documents are not up to par, you should invest time in rewriting them. They will better serve the next person to use them. If you cannot get the instructions to the right level of quality for your new hire, there is a solution. The matter calls for instructional design consulting, enabling a professional to correctly write the documents for you. Anyone who uses the new documents in their training will surely thank you.
Set Clear Expectations
Both new and senior employees learning a new task for the first time want to succeed and make their supervisor happy with their performance. However, it can be hard to nail down expectations via remote conversations. Talk with the trainee about precisely what is expected of them and when those goals must be completed. There should be no ambiguity over what they need to do. You should also ensure the lines of communication are always open. Encourage raising questions. Questions are not a sign of failure to understand instructions. Just because the trainee has the instructions does not mean they will not have further questions. Make sure everything is clear and the expectations are set before you trust your employee with a new task. Otherwise, you could cause unneeded stress and resentment towards management.
Feedback Is Essential
Even if an employee makes it through the training with a perfect understanding of the new task, feedback is still an essential part of the training process. Employees are interested in learning about the things they did well and also what they need to work on a bit more. There is no way knowing these details unless a manager gives them specific feedback. Communicating specific feedback is more challenging during remote training, but challenging does not mean impossible. It is possible with planning and forethought to check in with employees.
As a manager, caring about your employees and their progress beyond functional capabilities can take you far. Teaching an employee a new task is only part of the training. You must also prepare the person to do new tasks as well. An employee can always do with a little more reassurance from their managers after training. Before starting work for real, giving feedback is a sure shot way for managers to double-check their trainee’s progress. Errors can be far more costly later on, which makes feedback and check-ins during or after training even more critical. Training with feedback also helps cultivate a culture of collaboration. Constructive feedback helps build up employees.
Overall, training employees remotely is a challenging task. However, it is entirely possible to do it with great results so long as you use the proper methods that fit these unique circumstances. Start by making sure the training instructions are of high quality, easy to follow, accurate, and include all the details the new employee will need. Set expectations and keep communication open for questions and feedback to get the best results in the long-run.