Trainers must not only support learning objectives, but also business goals. More often than not, our stakeholders include our learners’ managers. Their involvement in our initiatives impact the outcomes we see.
In our experience, if managers undervalue components of a blend – for example, virtual classroom sessions – their teams will lack the necessary support and resources they need in order to successfully participate in learning activities.
The best bet for overcoming leadership leeriness? Training, of course!
The Core of Learner Stress
Often, modern learning involves informal resources and virtual classrooms. From an instructional design perspective, we know this works well because we can match learning objectives to the most effective delivery modality.
However, learners can sometimes feel overwhelmed by this approach. For many people, it provides a completely new – and potentially more complicated – way of building skills. Instead of going to a designated classroom for a two full-day traditional training, they now have to log-in to virtual classrooms for shorter sessions over multiple days or weeks, access resources in an LMS, and more.
Beyond the logistics, though, learners worry about their participation. In our experience, we regularly hear learners fret about things such as:
- “My manager will be upset if I’m watching videos at my desk during the work day.”
- “Work is so busy. If I have to participate in online learning in my cubicle, I won’t stop thinking about my to-do list.”
- “If I’m learning in the office, my coworkers and managers will interrupt me.”
This feedback speaks to the widespread experience learners have with virtual blended learning. They believe circumstance limits the time available for modern training options.
Perhaps most troubling, many learners feel unsupported by their managers in the process.
Managing the Managers
If we want learners to get the most from our programs, at a minimum we have to ensure they have enough time to dedicate to the learning experience and that interruptions are kept to a minimum.
Initially, you may say, “Bad managers! Why don’t you prioritize learning?”
But, that’s the wrong mindset to have. Like learners, most managers have limited to no experience with most blended learning concepts. In fact, you may have stakeholders who have never attended a true virtual learning event.
So, it’s not that managers don’t support our training programs, it’s that they don’t understand them.
To bring managers into the fold and to empower them to better encourage their teams’ engagement, we recommend a combined approach that includes:
- Manager Learning Orientation. Schedule a short live online event that introduces virtual learning, including its relationship to business success.
- FAQs. Preemptively answer questions team leaders may have about the entire blend and their responsibilities, and combine the responses into an easy-to-access document.
- Designate them as instructional partners. Managers need to clearly understand their involvement in order to rise to the occasion. Get their buy-in and set expectations accordingly and appropriately.
Engaging and training managers before a blend begins lays a strong foundation for ongoing progress and learner success!