Throwback blog from 09/12/2013 by Atty. Hector V Hernandez:
Whenever I discuss with my line managers regarding their concerns on running an important skills building program or intervention for new or veteran managers or senior staff members, the issues with them are not the following: the topic or topics agreed upon as the most effective intervention required for the incumbents to become better managers or staff members nor the quality of subject matter experts who will be running the program nor the interest level of the participants nor the budget.
Main bone of contention of learners
The main bone of contention is always their availability. In this time and age where managers travel a lot in many places to conduct meetings, interview candidates for top positions, meet with important clients, make an ocular inspection of ongoing projects, even the minutest concern of scheduling the most acceptable timetable for participants in a face-to-face workshop becomes extra challenging. This results to postponement of the desired training intervention and finally not running that important workshop necessary to equip the target groupto become better people managers. And this is a lost opportunity for the Workplace Learning & Development Practitioner (WLP)!
Feedback from learners
One of the feedbacks that I normally get from workshop learners is that the workshop time schedule may be reduced to a bare minimum e.g. not more than 2 hoursbut still is learner focused with lots of substance and with some links to what she or he does back in the workplace and where his or her supervisor can observe any change behavior as a result of that workshop. What a challenge! I thought about this and seriously considered the possibility of a Webinar based design. Webinars are now available either on demand or recorded version. Typically, the webinar is mostly delivered in an hour’s time with subject matter experts discussing and facilitating the relevant topic. So if you need a subject on Building Collaboration or Developing Systematic Thinking or Enhancing Innovation, there is a lot you can choose from the Web. I use the Center for Creative Leadership as my main provider of Webinars. I also find the fees very reasonable and affordable.
What is a webinar?
Webinar istypically one hour recorded or “live” discussion of a subject matter led or facilitated by a main speaker who is usually an acknowledged academician, an author of a new book or a noted practitioner in his or her field of expertise. There is a program manager who introduces the main speaker and walks through other administrative details. Webinars are usually interactive if you attend a “live” version where participating learners are allowed to ask questions online and learners can see the overall trending of responses from all learners. I like this format because I can compare my answer vis-a-vis responses of other learners around the globe.
Downside for this version is the time zone difference as webinars are linked online. I prefer the recorded version because I control the timing schedules of at least 1.5 hours per session anywhere and everytime. I can also stop the recorded Webinar for an on-the-job or local application when I “co-facilitate”with the main speaker. To ensure engagement of webinar learners, I e-mail a copy of the Powerpoint Presentation of the webinar about a week in advance so that my learners can review and prepare for questions during the 1.5 hours of learning session with me. The webinar is just one hour and the remaining 30 minutes I use for my customization of learning with my in-house participants. In this way, I am able to maximize the engagement of the learners and based on experience, they typically will ask for another session at the end of the 1.5-hour learning workshop.
Application On-The-Job of learnings
Any WLP person worth a grain of salt is always looking for measuring how effective his her intervention is in the organization – in this case using a webinar-based design. As webinar designed courses can be theme based e.g. corporate values or mission/vision focused, an action plan can be mandated from the learners on how they can use the new learned skills on the job with clear support from their supervisors. By getting the support of the supervisors, they ultimately become the mentor of the learners without formalizing their new found role.
Feedback from learners
I never miss my one-page feedback from my Learners where I asked 3 basic questions:
1. what did you learn the most in this webinar;
2. what did you not like in this workshop; and
3. what can we do differently in the next run.
I collate the answers and endeavor to provide copies to the bosses within the day of the workshop. In this way, there is an immediate feedback to the superiors of the learners. I also make sure that these inputs are placed in the HR website so that the learner participants and the rest of the organization can view the learners’ overall comments and suggestions. The summary of feedback is an important repository of new ideas that can be adopted in the next runs of the webinars or other intervention designs. This is innovation in action.