In 2013, I took a position as training director of a crisis hotline. The majority of call agents worked remotely from locations all around the world. Even though I was an experienced director, I had not worked with remote teams before this position.
Since Google offered a free subscription to nonprofits, we decided to use Google Hangouts for training. Each trainer learned how to use Hangouts and we held a special “train the trainers” phase before the official launch of the program.
After Action Review
What was expected to happen
Our main goal was to get our training online, using Google Hangouts so we can share documents, presentations, and see each other’s screens. The expectation was that we might have some problems, but we would get the training program online and continue learning how to conduct meetings on this technology.
What actually happened or occurred?
1. The team dynamics were very good. Everyone worked hard to learn Google Hangouts and how to lead a virtual training session.
2. From a technology perspective, we did not have a smooth start. One trainer in South Africa had tech problems he didn’t know how to resolve, and our tech support staff member was unavailable. Later we decided as a group that since it’s so difficult to schedule people for a training session, in the future if one person is having technology problems, we will continue working, but make sure to give detailed meeting notes to that person. We also decided to record all training sessions as well.
What went well?
1. Google Hangouts for Business was a good choice for virtual training. The additional tools within the program (whiteboard, screen share, present screen) worked well with the content of the training.
2. Using ice-breaker exercises helped trainees get comfortable with each other and helped the team dynamics. They also helped the trainees become acclimated to training in a virtual space.
What can be done to make the process better?
1. To accommodate members who are unable to join our meeting, we should take minutes and record each training session. The notes and recordings should be posted on the employee section of the website.
2. We did not have a clear protocol on what we should do in case someone is unable to join a meeting. A protocol should be established and added to the employee training handbook and sent out with the training invites.
3. Some trainers are not comfortable or experienced with Hangouts. Google provides video-based training that can be used for any trainer who is struggling with the program.
Even though the virtual training program was successful, the process could have benefited from an AAR during the train the trainer phase. Many issues that we encountered in this phase continued to plague the training program for the first year. My team did learn and grow through the process, but using a reflect-plan-act system would have led to better equipped trainers, improved learning outcomes for the trainees, and a much stronger training program overall.