Plant a Garden – Tend a Garden

Okay, I’ll admit it.  When Covid reared its ugly head, I was less than enthusiastic when customers began to inquire about my ability to conduct virtual workshops.  I mean, come on!  Does anyone really think we can really grab the mindshare of an individual virtually?  Furthermore, what’s the use in training people if they are not motivated or inspired to actually implement what has been learned?  Like a kid, I found myself stamping my feet and saying this: “No, no, no! You can’t have an impact on people and how they do their jobs through workshop deliveries conducted virtually! You can’t expect the workshop participants to make the changes that need to be made for greater success… through virtual presentations!”

I haven’t changed my mind.  I still don’t think you can change the culture of an organization through virtual training, or worse than that, a series of well-packaged videos.  There, I said it!  The interesting thing is this: I started noticing a change in my customer’s training requests, and I began to see success from those changes that do, in fact, incorporate virtual training. In this situation, success involves a hybrid approach to delivery.

Think of it this way:  When an organization initially decides to conduct training, it’s like planting a garden.  I’m going to stick to my guns here and tell you that it’s an uphill battle to do the initial training virtually.  Those seeds need to be planted live.  Those in attendance need to see those other attendees and see that trainer. They need to not just hear those words, but they have to feel them.  No matter how talented a trainer is, or how well produced a video may be, it would be naïve to think an attendee would be fully locked in through virtual delivery, let alone be inspired to move past his or her fear of change.

However, after those seeds have been planted properly, the most important part of gardening needs to take place. That means tending to the garden, and getting those seeds to grow roots, which will allow the plants to grow strong.  In the world of training, the planting is the initial delivery, but the rooting is the follow-up.  The follow-up is usually where a company will fail in its implementation.  After all, it takes a big budget to keep flying folks to training sites. Companies can’t fly in trainers to stay on top of questions that need to be answered, or adjustments that might need to be made.  It’s at this step, the implementation, where I have changed my mind, or should I say, my customers helped me to change my mind.

An ideal home for virtual training isn’t found in the initial delivery; it’s found in the follow-up of that initial delivery.

This year, I’ve had multiple customers sign up for an initial, in-person training, followed by 20-25 shorter team coaching sessions, done virtually, to support the in-person training.  It’s those virtual team coaching sessions that have allowed me, in a sense, to tend to the garden.

The pandemic was particularly hard on those in the meeting industry.  We were faced with new obstacles, and we had to grow and adapt to the situation as best we could. When we try to adapt, we are often able to improve what it was we were doing before the pandemic hit.  

No, I haven’t changed my mind about the ineffectiveness of doing initial training through a video or a Zoom session. It just can’t change the trajectory of an organization.  Where I have changed my mind is realizing that there is a way to combine both live and virtual training into a winning combination. The follow-up coaching sessions, which will support the initial training, can be done virtually.  It allows for the new processes to be supported and implemented.  It allows participants to ask questions, and learn how to implement what was taught in the initial training.  It seems to be the perfect way to follow-up.  In the end, we wind up with a well-planted, strong, mature garden.

Related: The More You Know, the Less You Show