Category: Associate Development and Engagement

The Evolution of Training in the Workplace


Online learningWhen was the last time you attended a corporate training class where the facilitator stood at the front of the room and talked at you for what seemed like hours on end? For some of you that may have been a recent experience. At Boston Financial, it’s a thing of the past. With employees in five locations from Maine to Kansas the Talent Development team needed to rethink our learning methods. Additionally, we needed to consider the diverse learning styles and development needs of our associate population.

The Talent Development team has evolved from traditional classroom trainers to learning consultants with expertise in virtual workshop design and facilitation. We started delivering short, informational communications via a basic web-delivery platform. Associates liked having the flexibility and convenience of attending from their desks. Based on the positive feedback we explored redesigning several of our traditionally delivered programs into a webinar format. This required “chunking” the workshop content into shorter modules and designing creative knowledge checkpoints and practices. Again, feedback from participants was positive. However, there was an essential learning component that couldn’t be replicated virtually using a basic webinar format. The use of small breakout discussion groups was missing from the formula. The opportunity to share experiences and business practices with other workshop participants is critical to individual learning, building networks and strengthening cross-functional teams.

To meet this requirement we needed to identify a platform that allowed us more flexibility in delivering virtual training. We also needed to enhance our virtual facilitation skills in order to expand our library of workshops to meet the growing demands of our associates. Using web conferencing software and integrated audio solutions we are now able to replicate the traditional classroom experience where interactions and small group discussions are now commonplace. The learning consultants have all earned certifications as virtual developers and facilitators. To date we offer virtual workshops on topics such as goal setting, building trust, interpersonal communication, collaborating across the distance and influencing skills. As associate participation in these learning solutions has increased, the need for the consultants to travel to deliver these workshops has been reduced.

Virtual delivery of training is not the answer for every situation. As learning consultants it’s important for us to offer our associates a combination of blended learning solutions, virtual workshops and traditional classroom experiences to meet their diverse learning styles and abilities. With the right facilitator skill set and conferencing software a virtual delivery solution can be a powerful option in a corporate learning environment.

Marie Thompson

Marie Thompson

Marie joined Boston Financial in 2005 and is responsible for leading the learning organization. Marie and her team of learning professionals partner with business leaders to customize solutions to build and enhance individual, team and organizational performance. She has more than 20 years of experience in the learning profession in the areas of leadership development, talent identification and assessment, career development, instructional design and course delivery & facilitation. Prior to joining Boston Financial Marie was an Organizational Effectiveness Business Partner at Bank of America and Fleet Boston Financial.

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