When we think about training, or learning, our mind thinks about an individual sitting in a class, sitting on a virtual instructor-led program, or reading content (via actual textbooks or online)…. all pretty much solitary activities. The fact is, the majority of our learning rarely happens alone. Most of our learning happens from—and with–others.
When we think about what is the most “valuable” takeaway from training, it often comes, not from the brilliance of the instructor (although some are pretty darned smart, ahem) but from the discussions, questions and interactions with the other participants. How do we create a similar environment when everyone is physically separated and seemingly alone in the universe?
The good news about working remotely is you have no shortage of great material. Podcasts, books, online articles, webinars, and more can give us a lot of useful information and context for skill development. How can we add a social component so that the group—not just specific individuals—learns and grows?
Here are a couple of ideas:
• Create asynchronous ways to share e-books, articles, recordings and more. On a SharePoint or other shared file system, create a place for the sharing of useful information. But it doesn’t stop there…
• Assign “book reports,” or other ways of sharing the learning someone gleans with the rest of the team. Take the time in team meetings and correspondence to draw the team’s attention to a new article or blog post they should know about.
• Identify the subject matter experts on your team and let them shine. One of the best ways to teach something is one-on-one, in short sessions. If that idea gives you a rash because you don’t have time, relax. You don’t have to do it. On every team there is someone who really knows their stuff. Peer coaching and mentoring is a great way to help the team get to know each other personally, which builds good working relationships and trust.
• A good icebreaker for virtual meetings is “One thing I learned this week.” This might be something related to the work, it might be something trivial and silly, but it has the team focused on sharing information in an informal, fun way and has them constantly on the lookout for things to tell their peers.
Information input often happens when we’re alone… we read, listen and practice by ourselves. But learning, processing information, questioning and applying the new knowledge happens when we’re in a group setting. Just because you work remotely doesn’t mean you can’t interact. Incorporating these tips will help you better understand that learning rarely happens alone.
Learn how we help teams and leaders learn in a fun, live, social environment by checking out the virtual instructor-led courses here on RemoteLeadershipInstitute.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Wayne and Kevin’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, offers a roadmap for success not just for leaders, but for everyone making the transition to working remotely.