Reality HR consultants Heidi and Donna discuss what they’ve learned from delivering training and Insights Discovery sessions over video.
Most of us have had to adapt to working very differently in recent weeks – it’s now hard to imagine a world where a Zoom call was a novelty!
The team at Reality HR have been using video to deliver training and workshops since long before the pandemic hit, but we’ve still had to adapt quickly to deliver all of our sessions online.
Along the way we’ve learned a lot about how that applies when those interactions are virtual rather than face-to-face and our work using the psychometric testing tool Insights Discovery gives us a unique view of how different personality types react in different situations.
Here’s a chat with Donna Bonfield, an HR Consultant and qualified Insights Practitioner at Reality HR, about the shift to online and what it means for the future of training.
How easy was it to adapt to delivering training online?
We were fortunate in that we had been increasingly delivering our whole leadership and management programme online, through Microsoft Teams and Zoom, for quite a while – especially for our clients who were spread all over the world. So we had an idea of how it should work but the events of recent months have clearly made us make the shift a lot more quickly than we had foreseen!
What we hadn’t done before is deliver our Insights Discovery programme online – this is very much an interactive session and so adapting it for videoconferencing was more of a challenge.
Tell us more about Insights Discovery – what is it?
Insights is a psychometric tool based on the work of Carl Jung that looks at how we communicate and interact with each other according to our personality types. It looks at whether we’re more introvert or extrovert and whether our decision making is more facts-based or feeling-based.
We all have a combination of four colour energies – red, blue, yellow and green – but have a natural preference for some which influences our motivation and behaviours. Your combination of those creates a unique “you”. Once you have an understanding of someone’s Insights colour profile you begin to understand why they behave the way they do and, crucially, how best to communicate with that person.
It’s really important at the moment as when it comes to interacting with each other, we’re having to use different methods and homeworking removes some of those cues we may normally rely on. Good communication and understanding are more important than ever.
There’s also a lot of evidence that being aware of our reactions to different situations can help us to feel in control which in turn has a really positive impact on our mental health, which is so important in these exceptional circumstances.
So what can we learn from Insights during these unusual times?
From delivering our webinars on wellbeing, mental health and resilience it’s really fascinating to look at the interplay between what we find out from Insights and how that links into resilience.
It’s about understanding ourselves but also recognising how others are going to be reacting – some people are more introverted and are loving this time at home whereas extroverts might be missing the interactions of the workplace.
A lot of us are learning new skills in communicating on different platforms which is completely different to brainstorming over a coffee! Insights is a way of looking at how we can understand each other, connect better and communicate, particularly in these new ways where we’re missing some of the non-verbal reactions and cues that we would pick up on when we’re together face to face.
What have been the challenges of delivering these sessions over the internet?
We are really excited to translate all of our courses online and it’s fair to say it has pushed us out of our comfort zones! Like a lot of people, I could stand in front of people and talk and be fine, but put a camera in front of me and it’s very different – getting used to the feeling of being watched, being judged, and it being out there for the whole world to see rather in it being confined to the room you’re in. However it’s a challenge we’ve all enjoyed and we are all now very comfortable.
From my own Insights Discovery profile, I lead on Sunshine Yellow – that means I want everyone to love me and know that I’m doing a good job! In a room you can see everyone’s reaction but online you can’t – so if you thrive on positive feedback then that can be a very different experience to get used to. When you’re in the room with people and someone’s a bit quiet or two people are talking to each other, you can step in and try to engage them – it’s much harder to do that on screen.
The other challenge was dealing with the technology – I’m just not a tech person and I’m much happier with a flipchart and pen! However, delivering over Zoom and Teams has become second nature. Both those platforms have improved over time and now a lot of my techno-fear has gone and the sessions are fun to deliver.
How have you had to had to adapt your workshops to deliver them online?
We’ve made them shorter to account for the fact that watching a long session over video can be exhausting – I think we’ve all felt an element of Zoom fatigue at some point! Insights would normally be six hours with lunch and coffee breaks– but online sessions are more likely to be two or three hours.
Every half an hour we make a point of having a quick break to get up, stretch, go for a quick walk around the house and look away from the screen. We find that anything more than half an hour without some sort of break is when people start to get distracted, check emails and so on – that goes on in the classroom as well, but of course in person you can see it and bring them back in. So we’ve learned a lot about what’s comfortable for people to manage, I pride myself on engaging delegates so this was my personal challenge.
Are there advantages to delivering training online?
Definitely – and we saw these well before the lockdown. For example, we work with companies that have lots of people who want to do the training but they are in different places and even time zones. In the past we’d have to try to work round everyone’s diaries, get everyone together in one place – that can take at least six weeks to sort out.
Now, people are more used to doing it virtually, it can be pretty much instant, so if there’s an urgent training need we don’t have that delay. It’s also more efficient– no room bookings or travel time, and it takes less time out of the day. Of course, there are environmental benefits as well.
Aside from Insights and training, we’ve delivered a lot of webinars during this period and we’ve had really positive feedback from them. They’re on a topic that’s relevant, they are easy to get on to – no need to book – and people just click a link and away they go. Short, helpful and timely interactions like these are very effective and only really possible online.
Do you think training will stay online even after we’re out of lockdown?
It’s really clear that because of this crisis, the world has woken up to different ways of doing things. I think it will have a long-term effect but there will always be a need for some interactions in person.
Going forward I’d like to see a blended approach – but of course I don’t know yet when we’ll be able to blend! In the meantime, we’re focusing our efforts online and ensuring we deliver quality training that will help employers keep staff motivated, engaged and ready to come out of the other side of this stronger and raring to go.