Insights into developing human skills in a virtual setting

Dr Tanya Boyd shares three of the greatest insights she’s drawn from the pandemic about developing human skills in a virtual environment

Awareness is key

Self-awareness is a conscious understanding of your unique personal preferences, your natural strengths and weaknesses. Once you understand yourself, and others, you can moderate your behaviours to build stronger relationships and achieve better outcomes.

Self-aware people know what they are great at and any potential blind-spots; they know where and how they can add most value; how to challenge appropriately; and how to turn their ideas into new realities. They understand how others perceive them and can adapt their approach in the moment.

They also know what those around them are great at and the value that they can bring. Self-aware people can leverage their gifts, with an understanding of others, to build stronger – more lasting – connections, faster.

This means that increased awareness can enhance training effectiveness, regardless of the learning model being used. For example, two people – with similar personalities, abilities, and experiences – attend the same course. One comes away with new-found skills, while the other doesn’t. What is the difference? At the most basic level, it is the level of self-awareness.

Think also about the technology you plan to use before going ahead with it. What is the purpose of the training? What do the participants need to get out of it?

In future, carry out a personal SWOT analysis before attending any personal development course to increase its effectiveness. Ask participants to consider their strengths and weaknesses, related to the course; the opportunities it will help them to uncover; and any barriers to applying the learning after the course.

Technology – use it, but don’t overuse it

Since the start of the pandemic, a wealth of fantastic technologies have emerged to support online learning. Collaborative whiteboards such as Miro or Mural have been incredibly valuable for us – allowing people to work together virtually similar to how they would have in person, ensuring high levels of engagement and interaction.

There has also been a huge increase in understanding how to package and deliver online learning content. Improvements including ‘bite-size’ content, better cataloguing, and user ratings and recommendations have all helped. The trick then is using technology to enhance learning, without going overboard and overwhelming people.

Think about the learning outcomes you want to achieve ahead of time. For me, the deciding factor is all down to the conversation. If a piece of content is somewhat static, more of a ‘tell’, then it doesn’t need to be shared ‘live’.

In contrast, content that comes alive when experienced ‘in the moment’ are best delivered by a facilitator in a live setting. The benefits of this blended approach to technology are that it’s user-centric, allowing people to use technology and access learning in the way they prefer.

Think also about the technology you plan to use before going ahead with it. What is the purpose of the training? What do the participants need to get out of it? Does this technology support the training, or is it more of a novelty?

Build connections

In addition to using various online platforms and embracing emerging technologies, be intentional about how learning experiences can be delivered in a virtual setting – to ensure customers can build connections.

Focus on participants getting to know each other, building connections and community that will last beyond the training – and beyond their own organisations. It’s time well invested and improves both the participant experience and the long-term outcomes.

If people are coming together live, whether in-person or online, that time is valuable, and should be used to best effect. A key reason for the success of any virtual offering will be the intentional focus on building a learning community.

Put the top tips together and develop those brilliant human skills

We live in a world where people must learn new skills, regularly upskill, and anything we can do to support and accelerate that is valuable. People who can take onboard new learning and change their behaviours have the greatest chance of improving their performance – and positioning themselves for future success.

Organisations who can support their people to increase awareness, thereby creating ‘super-learners’, will be the most successful – and sought after.

About the author

Dr Tanya Boyd is Learning Architect at Insights Learning and Development.


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