Virtual Leadership Training: 10 Questions to Build a Better Program
Don’t Launch a Virtual Leadership Training Program Without Asking These Vital Questions
Your virtual leadership training program needs to achieve the same game-changing outcomes as your in-person programs.
What Makes a Great Leadership Development Program?
If you’re like many leaders we talk with, you’ve had some frustration with leadership development before. Managers enjoyed the experience, and they applied what they learned for a minute. But after a few weeks or months, eventually old behaviors returned. It doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s help you get it right this time. Start with this article and watch the video below. Ask yourself these important questions before launching a leadership development program and soon you’ll be on a path to leadership development that sticks.
Here’s the link to the ATD video that David mentions in the video: How to Leverage Leadership Development to Accelerate Culture Change.
The best leadership training programs:
- Happen over time, not in one day
- Closely align with strategic business goals
- Inspire managers with new ideas and practical ways to improve the business
- Create lasting change in individual behaviors
- And positively impact business results.
Fortunately, virtual delivery makes retention and sustainability easier.
Shorter training sessions, spaced over time, give managers an opportunity to practice what they’ve learned in between sessions.
10 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Virtual Leadership Training Program
Every leadership program, whether virtual or in-person, will be more effective when you’re able to answer these questions.
1. What should change as a result of this program?
Don’t start training until you have a strong vision of what will be different as a result.
What behaviors do you want to shift?
How will that affect your MIT (Most Important Thing—strategic goals)?
Don’t stop at “We need better team leaders.” What does that mean? What will they do differently? Get specific.
Work with a training partner who understands your business and who will build a program specifically to get you exactly what you need.
2. How will we include the participant’s leaders?
Training doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
You’ll need real buy-in from your participants’ managers or you’ll get a minimal return on your investment.
Conceptual support isn’t enough. Managers need insights and specifics about what their people are learning and how they can best support it.
This is even more important when the participant’s managers are not sitting nearby.
Ask for an executive briefing session before the program begins, so leaders understand the ROI, prepare strategic questions for their participants, and have a clear path to support their teams’ learning and application.
Be sure you have the commitment from participant’s managers to give them the time they need to participate fully in the program.
3. How will participants apply what they’ve learned with their teams?
No one wants to feel like an experiment as their manager comes back from training and tries four new ideas without any explanation.
You’ve probably lived through a manager who tried a new idea, did it for a week, then forgot about it.
That frustrates the team, and the manager’s credibility suffers.
Does this program include a process for re-entry?
Will your managers get tools to communicate what they’ve learned and to transfer their knowledge? For example, if they come back eager to improve accountability, do they know exactly how they will start to hold people accountable if they never have before?)
4. How will we sustain learning over time?
A single half-day workshop doesn’t produce game-changing leaders.
Even if you have a limited budget, find creative ways to build live-online programs that combine learning with practice, reflection, and feedback.
How will this leadership development program provide daily and weekly reinforcement of key behaviors?
How will we know what’s working and where managers are struggling?
5. How will this program provoke new ideas and critical thinking to improve our business?
The best leadership training will fire up your managers with new ideas.
Will the program leave them empowered and excited to execute? Or, frustrated about great ideas that “will never happen.”
Work with a leadership development partner who understands your culture and how things get done. The best leadership programs don’t just teach skills. They create chances to apply what they’ve learned to improve the business.
These next five questions are specific
to your live virtual leadership development program.
6. Does the program feature real-time interaction with facilitators and other participants?
There’s no need to settle for a passive, webinar-style training program. It’s too easy for people’s attention to drift as they multi-task.
The best virtual leadership development features live engagement with your facilitators and real-time participant discussions.
7. Does our training partner have experience with live online leadership development?
Online facilitation is different than working in-person. It requires different preparation, different ways of engaging participants, and the confidence to work through problems that technology inevitably presents.
Participants know when they’re working with a rookie and will quickly lose interest and engagement. Make sure your leadership development partner has ample experience in training and leading remotely.
8. Can our people take part via video?
Video isn’t the same as being face-to-face, but for virtual leadership training, you’ll want your participants to see one another and the facilitators.
When everyone can see one another, they pay attention and resist the urge to multi-task. Plus, it gives facilitators and participants the opportunity to respond to confusion, enthusiasm, and questions.
Make sure your participants can appear on camera and be heard well. For more tech recommendations, check out How to Take Charge of Your Remote Meetings.
9. Will our online leadership development program leverage technology beyond traditional classrooms?
One of the common mistakes with online meeting technology is to replicate a traditional classroom training environment.
For instance, in a traditional face-to-face program, only one person can speak at a time.
But when you leverage virtual meeting tools, you can have small groups meeting simultaneously and sharing their findings and questions. You can also integrate feedback in real-time via chat and whiteboards, in ways that would lead to chaos in an in-person situation.
Virtual learning also gives you the opportunity to break up your day-long training programs into smaller 60-90 minute sessions over several days or weeks. This gives more time to apply learning in between sessions.
Spaced learning over time with guided application between sessions is ideal for changing behavior. Leverage technology to help your leaders make the most of their training.
10. How will we create the head-space for people to focus on their live online leadership development?
When your manager physically goes to another location for training, it’s obvious that they’re gone.
But with online leadership development, those boundaries can blur. Does their Slack messenger still show them as available? What are the expectations for answering phone calls, emails, and instant messages?
To give your leaders the best experience, work with your partner to create best practices in how participants notify their peers, colleagues, team (and remind their boss) that they’re attending the training.
You can create a consistent set of guideline reminders for every session that will help people to focus (eg: turn off your email, social media, office messenger – everything but the one way someone would contact you in an emergency).
Virtual Leadership Training is a great way to bring together managers from different geographies to learn, share best practices, and collaborate on new ideas.
Building a Better Virtual Leadership Training Program
Have a strong vision of what will be different and what should change as a result of the program.
Be sure you have commitment and buy-in from the participant’s managers, and give them time to fully participate.
Ensure the program offers a process for the transfer of knowledge and training.
Select a program that provides check-ins and reinforcement over time.
Leadership training creates an environment to apply the learning to improve the business.
The best virtual leadership training features engagement and real-time discussions.
Ensure the training and development partner has experience with live online training.
Make certain all participants are equipped with audio/visual technology sufficient to participate fully in the conversation.
Leverage virtual leadership tools that offer synchronous chat and whiteboards. Break up the learning over time.
Create a set of consistent guidelines or “norms” to set expectations for participation throughout the training.
Contact us at [email protected] to learn more about how we can help you grow your leaders through our best-in-class virtual leadership training.