No Budget for Training? Create Team Teachers Instead

Last Updated Mar 22, 2010 9:21 PM EDT

One of the big challenges a remote or virtual manager faces is getting people trained in a hurry, so everyone learns what they need to get the job done. That used to mean going to the nice person in HR, cap in hand, for training. But training and travel budgets have been slashed, so that's not always an option these days. Luckily, new tools are starting to make it unnecessary.

The current buzz term in Learning and Organizational Development circles is "learning instead of training." This means there are only some things that require a teacher, facilitation and a conference room at the local motor lodge. Other things just require a quick look-up, a refresher or a simple demonstration, and then people can get on with the task at hand. Tools like Snagit, Brainshark, Qarbon and a host of others can lower your budget and speed up the learning process, and they help build team spirit by letting colleagues show each other how smart they are.

Here are 3 tips for building your own training modules:

  • Capture best practices right away. Let's say one of your team members says something like, "I know a cool shortcut for creating email notifications in Sharepoint." First, try not to scoff -- it is doable. Then ask them to show you how they do it, and use a recording tool to capture the lesson. Then post it to a shared file. Now instead of having to teach each person one at a time, or have to help everyone who needs a reminder, there's a recorded version that anyone (including other people in the organization, if you're feeling benevolent) can access any time, anywhere. If you make this part of your normal operations, you'll be surprised how easy it is to bring new teammates up to speed and free yourself of a lot of hand-holding.
  • Give credit to your teachers. An overlooked reason to use these tools is that teammates get to show each other how competent they are. Many people enjoy the role of mentor and teacher to their peers, so give people credit where it's due. Put the presenter's name on the file, or have them announce themselves on the recording. This will also help them when it comes to performance review time -- they can point to a verifiable achievement.
  • Now is better than when it's perfect. In the days of industrial films and videos, it took a huge budget and tons of planning to record training events. Now they're digital. They can be recorded on the fly and replaced with the push of a button when you have time to do a better job or when information changes. "Good enough" is quite often better than waiting for perfection.
Capturing what's in the heads of your top performers so you can share it with everyone, even after they're gone, should always be a priority for managers of remote project and functional teams. These new (and fairly inexpensive) tools allow you to do it quickly and easily. Get on it.

Photo by flickr user foundphotoslj