As the world celebrated the countdown on New Year’s Eve of 2020, no one ever fathomed a Global Pandemic was awaiting us in the coming weeks. Then came mid-March, with the first lockdown, and we were thrown into a new world, and a ‘new normal’ of ‘Work from Home’, ‘Social Distancing’, ‘Quarantine’ and uncertainty. As a Learning and Development team, where we, as trainers, drew energy from classroom interactions, face-to-face discussions and learning through physical activities, we were suddenly faced with the first month of disruption that made us question our ‘modus operandi’. We now started to explore the ‘Virtual World of Learning’. When would we meet again in a real classroom? We had no clarity on that question! However, we realised that we now had to formulate a different plan as there was a huge appetite for learning, introspection and self development. It was time for us to unlearn the previous ways and adapt to the newer virtual ways of delivering content. That was the catalyst that led to the conception of learning shots — a 60 to 90 minute live instructor-led webinar on Zoom.
Brainstorming on the relevant topics was the most exciting phase, as we had to really look at future skills, and the mind set, needed for the workforce. We started with topics that dealt with having control over our mindset, communicating virtually, using your creativity, motivating teams, delivering presentations, storytelling to sell better, Time Management (to name a few). These were some of the topics we covered in the first three months from April to June. These months were critical for us, as we needed to find our foothold, gain the attention of the employees, and open their minds to learn and interact and become familiar with the platform of Zoom / MS Teams.
By the time we reached July, the demand for learning grew even more. So we reached out to various Businesses for team specific trainings. This is when we conducted programs such as ‘STARS (Sales Tactics and Relationship Based Selling) ‘ ‘Go Mobile- The New Wow’, ‘Power of We’ and Business Communication for SOTC MICE (Corporate Tours), Business and Corporate Travel, IT Teams, Payments Solution, Visa Team and B2C Holidays respectively.
Even though we initially launched Learning Shots for two companies, TCIL and SOTC, we were now also receiving requests for similar programs for SITA, TC Lanka and Luxe Asia by the end of June. We had now crossed the ‘survival’ stage in this VUCA environment of learning. It was now time to go deeper as the hour-long (Learning Shots) sessions were only scratching the surface. The employees’ response to learning online now triggered the need to try longer duration programs with more immersive learning strategies. It was time to go back to the drawing board. and so started our mind maps and storyboarding on day-wise sessions. It all began with the concept of… what do we really want as the outcome at the end of five to six weeks with a set of employees? How do we keep them engaged? The answer was clear. We wanted them to become an ‘ACE’ in the current role for individual contributors (Band 1) which encompassed managing self, enhancing productivity and relationship building. For People Managers (Band 2) leading self, team leadership and aligning with the organisations goals, were the core skills needed. The blended learning approach involved live webinars, case studies, video learning activities, assignments, individual and group presentations ,and week-wise publishing of leader boards to keep them engaged until the last day.
The initial launch e-mail in August 2020 received an overwhelming response, and we had to begin with a bang with a total of four batches (2 for level 1, and 2 for level 2).
The enthusiastic pilot batches successfully completed their certification ceremony with various chief guests, their managers, their business HR attending a live, exciting, motivating session, receiving well deserved congratulations from their colleagues.
Up to now, we have conducted 7 batches of ACE 1 for TCIL and SOTC. Also 1 Batch for TC Lanka and 2 batches for SITA. We have also conducted 5 batches of ACE 2 and 1 batch of ACE 3. Apart from the on-going ACE batches we continued the rigour of Learning Shots in the calendar with a set of new program , and had a minimum of two new programs launched every month. By the end of 2020 we had conducted 42 unique programs by our in-house trainers and have conducted 5 new Programs in 2021.
Through the encouraging feedback of Learning Shots in the world of virtual learning, it gave us the impetus to relaunch ‘Coffee and Conversation’ with our leaders. So far we have had 14 batches of Coffee and Conversation” since last year.
How does one have an interactive leadership connect on Zoom? Simple! By making the introduction playful through some anecdotes about the speaker, a quiz on coffee, some brain teasers and striking a chord with the audience through the choice of topics having been completed. To date we have conducted 10 such sessions since September 2020.
While the months flew by we observed a spike in the trend of virtual learning. When engaged through self introspection, team activities and relevant content, a learning culture is imbibed, and that was the crux behind having a classroom filled with enthusiastic, playful, thought provoking conversations. It gave an opportunity for introverts to share learnings behind a screen, and extroverts the opportunity to shine in group discussions. Moreover, it truly gave us, the Learning and Development team, the biggest opportunity to cross over boundaries, and not only survive, but also to adapt, unlearn and learn again, to thrive and look forward to new learning solutions in 2021!
Learning and Development Team