Is Virtual Delivery Working? 4 Tips for Managing L&D Performance in the New Normal

Written by Cristina Hall, Vice President, Marketing, Explorance and Andy Harris, Manager, SMB Customer Success, Explorance.

By March 2020, much of the world was already under some form of COVID-19 restrictions. Many Learning and Development (L&D) departments were thrown into disarray and left wondering what the future would look like for training. Strategic programs were largely put on hold, and essential training that had previously been delivered face-to-face was rapidly converted to be delivered virtually.

Now the longevity of these restrictions has been realized, many employees will be working remotely for the foreseeable future, and some ways of working may never return to their previous state.

Moving Forward: The Show Must Go On

L&D organizations are beginning to pivot towards a longer-term view and accelerate investment in virtual or other types of online training to ensure access to training continuity -, but concerns remain. Transitioning to virtual delivery entails more than taking a classroom experience and moving it to a Zoom meeting. Assets are being redesigned, and it’s critical to understand where you have been successful and where you should focus. How can you ensure that the training you are delivering virtually is as effective as training that was traditionally delivered in person? Are the programs you have already converted from live instructor-led to a virtual delivery format meeting learners’ needs?

Answering these questions confidently requires data, and this article outlines several areas L&D organizations can prioritize now to ensure that learning experiences meet learner needs as well as drive business impact, no matter the delivery method.

Monitor Consumption

The past few months have been a tumultuous time for employees, as many have struggled with the challenge of performing their main job activities in new work environments while balancing additional demands from family, feelings of isolation, or other stressors. New routines are challenging to establish, and professional development may have taken a back seat during this time. It’s important to have a clear picture of whether this has occurred in your organization so you can take appropriate action to help learners transition from the survival mindset back to one of growth and continuous learning.

If you have already converted much of your content to virtual delivery, start by understanding whether learners are consuming it. Are there programs that could benefit from some internal marketing to raise their visibility? Also, keep an eye on evaluation response rates. When employees take training, are you getting the feedback you need to identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement and provide the best learning experiences possible?

Compare Trends Across Key Metrics

Many face-to-face instructor-led programs were converted to virtual formats nearly overnight. Examine how key metrics like courseware quality and instructor performance may have changed by looking at trends before and after the transition. Quality measures ultimately influence job application and business impact, so go back to basics to ensure that performance in these areas is solid and address any gaps you find. If you’re not specifically capturing learner feedback about the online learning experience itself, now is the time to add this to your KPI library. This measure will help you triangulate any challenges with decreasing quality scores. Is it that instructors are struggling (delivery issue), the content isn’t translating (design issue), or is the online learning experience not working well (technology issue)? Dig into this at the course level to prioritize where to focus first.

NPS and Scrap Learning are two additional metrics to track, trend, and compare by learning methodology and course, especially when looking at courses that recently shifted to a virtual delivery method. Explorance research has found that NPS is a reliable indicator that new knowledge and skills have been gained, which is necessary for training to have an impact on job performance and business outcomes. Scrap Learning is particularly important right now because increased Scrap may indicate that the context of a learning program may need to be adjusted for the virtual work environment. Application of some skills on the job may be different, or even impossible when working from home. Some programs may need small adjustments to overcome this, while others may be best to put on hold or reimagine and redesign temporarily.

Use Benchmarks for Context

Scores for the KPIs mentioned above tend to vary based on the delivery method, and benchmarks will help you determine whether any dips in scores are part of typical differences or signal a larger problem. For example, it’s typical for instructor delivery scores to be lower in a virtual delivery setting versus in person, due to the physical energy in the room, natural interaction points, and reduced distractions for learners. A benchmark helps you to determine whether lower instructor delivery scores are likely the result of these normal factors or should be addressed more urgently, such as additional training for instructors to build their confidence and competence in the virtual delivery environment.

Dig in to Find Root Cause

Monitoring selected KPIs at an aggregate level as described above serves as a way to identify where additional analysis and investigation may be needed quickly, but you should not stop there. Comparative analysis at the course or instructor level will yield more detailed insights that can lead to actionable, tangible improvements. Qualitative data is also very valuable; analyze learner comments associated with courses you’ve converted and look for themes related to the online experience, relevance, in-class examples, and challenges with job application.

Conclusion

Switching delivery methods presents its own unique set of challenges, especially when done under tight timeframes and on a broad scale. Following these steps will help you focus on the metrics that matter most as you manage the transition, so you can be sure that learners and the business are getting the most significant benefit from training, even in this time of great disruption.

If you would like to see an example of a dashboard that touches on these metrics, download the L&D Dashboard infographic. This infographic is based on a new template that is now available to Metrics That Matter (MTM) customers to help them monitor these metrics in real-time via the MTM dashboard module.

 


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