When Virtual Leadership Training Is Better Than In-Person Training




  • — November 21, 2016

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    Is virtual leadership training better than the real thing?


    A recent article by Wall Street Journal writer Catherine Bolgar posed the question and invited me to weigh in.


    It’s clear more organizations are using virtual training for a variety of reasons. It’s more efficient, cost-effective and scalable, which is especially important for large and geographically dispersed companies.


    But is it really more effective? I’d argue there are many situations when it is.


    Here are just three of them.


    1. When It Reflects The Way Leaders Operate


    The most effective training is practical and reflective of the real-world environment. Today’s leaders increasingly manage virtual teams. They have all the same responsibilities as leaders who manage teams under the same roof, but they face unique challenges, such as coaching from a distance and managing accountability in virtual teams that they rarely see face to face.


    Virtual leaders should be trained to develop these skills in the environment where they are most likely to use them. Virtual instructor-led online programs, virtual simulations and self-directed e-learning programs can all offer relevant experience.


    2. When It’s Collaborative and Interactive


    Training from a distance does not have to be a passive experience for the learner. Technology such as video conferencing software and collaborative software allows participants to have face-to-face interactions, view shared screens, answer polling questions, and even participate in break out group discussions.


    While some material is appropriate for students to learn by reading and answering questions, other skills and knowledge demand a different learning format. When the skill benefits from interaction with others, it’s better suited for virtual instructor-led training. This training format is a good fit for leadership skills such as coaching, managing conflict and building virtual teams.


    Adding breakout sessions, self-assessments or “homework” that involves practical application offline can also reinforce what they’ve learned.


    3. When You Have a Tight Budget


    There’s no question virtual leadership training is more cost-effective than in-person training. If your organization has to fly in participants located across the country or around the world, you could easily spend $ 1,000 or more per person on transportation, lodging and food alone.


    Virtual training removes these added costs, allowing your organization to make every dollar go further toward what matters most—preparing your leaders for success. More companies are taking advantage of technology that enables more flexible training options, allowing them to reduce or reallocate their training budgets. On average, companies spent $ 702 per learner in 2015, down from $ 976 the previous year, according to the 2015 Training Industry Report.

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    Author: Rick Lepsinger


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