Learning & Development in the Post COVID New Normal – Chinwe Kalu
Being in Learning & Development allows me to be me. I always wanted something that had some intellectual bent: I am a university lecturer’s daughter. But I also wanted to meet people and impart knowledge. I definitely did not want to be at a desk all day. And that is what being in L & D does for me.
I get to do research. I get to design presentations. I get to teach professionals and entrepreneurs. I get to sell and market my learning packages. It’s a whole lot of interesting stuff.
One of the highlights of my job is the training sessions. I get to impact younger professionals and entrepreneurs alike with the skills required to excel in business. I get to meet people from different industries with vast experience I can learn from. I love the excitement at the end of our training sessions because I feel like I have made some impact. People leave us looking like they have made new discoveries.
At last, here we are in the new Post COVID lockdown season and training sessions have changed. Digital training sessions are becoming the norm and I am learning to adjust. The last one I had was on Business Writing & Communication with 25 participants who were just little boxes with their initials on my screen. I would speak for a while and have to pause to ask, “Can you hear me?” “Yes, Chinwe, we can hear you?” Sometimes they go, “You are breaking Chinwe, and we can’t hear you”. You have to deal with data fluctuations. I had to change the data service provider at some point.
No Hiding Place In A Normal Classroom
In normal classrooms, there is no hiding place for my participants. However, in virtual classes, some people never say a word. I am juggling teaching the class, with watching the data device I am using and making sure people participate. So I throw questions out and sometimes it takes up to 2 minutes before anyone says anything. I would normally use eye contact to pick someone out but that is not possible in a virtual class. I think they assume I will move on, but I wait. Then you hear a very reluctant voice attempt an answer. Then all of a sudden everyone wakes up and wants to say something. So many questions. It was a very interactive session.
It is a different experience but just as impacting for the participants as a live classroom. We developed the Business Writing & Communications program because we understand that well written business documents are essential for professionals to establish their credibility and present their ideas. It is also important that communication is professional, respectful and mindful of maintaining an environment in which staff members can thrive.
So, I wanted the participants to understand that information communicated in writing can have a significant impact on business perception, performance and decision making. It was important for me to get them to see that effective business writing should be concise, accurate, unambiguous, logical and easily understood. I believe I achieved that despite it being a virtual class.
Feedback From Participants
From the after session survey, it looks like they enjoyed the class and learnt quite a bit form it. I did achieve my objective. When asked how they would describe the impact of this training to a friend, colleague or boss, see a few comments below:
- It made me realize how important being heard in an organization/unit/department is and that one of the most powerful ways to do that is through effective business writing. It also made me realize how much one can solve through effective communication, specifically, writing.
- The training was very insightful and will show you lapses in areas where you thought you were at your best and the various ways you can cover them.
- The training was insightful and a must have for all young professionals
- Great service delivery, I will definitely recommend.
- Training was explanatory and well detailed
Then we asked then to make a list of five actions they would take immediately based on what they learnt from this program. This responder/participant generally summarizes what many of them wrote.
- Check for errors before sending e-mails.
- Never to use capital letters in an e-mail.
- Replace negative words like cannot with mild words like unable.
- Responding to e-mails promptly.
- Use tones that show professionalism.
- Always contribute and add value to my team.
So which way for training and developing employees post COVID 19 Lockdown? It appears we all need to adopt a blended approach where we have an online portal, employees can learn from at their pace. This should be followed by an online live interactive class for employees to ask questions and clarify unclear issues they came across on the portal.
If you ask me, I still prefer class room training. However, it is not about my preferences. Where is the market going? What do our clients prefer? What will work under the circumstances? I know that clients will prefer the online approach. It is way more pocket friendly. In a post lockdown season when most employers of labour are still barely staying in business the cost of training will definitely be a major deciding factor.
Where Does This Leave Us As Trainers?
It appears they lose income. However, the online training sessions cost us way less. It eventually balances out. You can take on more assignments from your desk. Logistics costs are no longer your problem.
It’s the new normal and training professionals need to begin to align themselves. We cannot afford to wait until things ‘normalize’. Training the way we used to do it, is no longer viable. We must all become as innovative as possible to ensure learning is not lost in the new normal. That is why it must be blended to include live sessions. I am so sure there is more we can do to make it exciting. Let us keep our thinking caps on.
A Bit About Chinwe Kalu BSc, MBA
Chinwe designs training programs for SMEs, entrepreneurs and corporate organizations with specialization in Customer Service, Marketing, Sales, Business Soft Skills, Self- Development & Motivation, Leadership and General Management.
She has worked in a number of customer focused organizations in a span of over 25 years-Finance & Banking, Personal Care services, Consultancy & Training.
She is currently the CEO of Customer Passion Point Limited. We are into Marketing Services for Corporate organizations, SME Consulting and Training. She set up the training arm of the company and has over the last five years developed training solutions for several organizations.
Chinwe is also into public speaking, writing and the media. She airs a radio program called Dove Eyes with Chinwe Kalu where she focuses on matters that concern strengthening the family unit.