Schibsted Classified Media (SCM) identified a need to provide training for effective everyday feedback and handling difficult conversations for its senior managers in over 40 countries. After a competitive tender involving four providers, SCM appointed learning solutions specialist Hemsley Fraser to deliver this training in different stages.
“There are many expert learning partners who operate in this space, however it is very rare to find a learning partner who shares the same vision, who is as keen to embark on the journey and who wants to innovate and challenge conventional training practices,” says Hulda Haugen, VP of Organisational Development for SCM.
“Hemsley Fraser most closely matched our requirements and we were impressed with their collaborative approach throughout the whole process.”
Todd Turner, Chief Executive Officer of Hemsley Fraser, says that this is a classic example of how learning is changing:
“It’s very unusual for virtual training programmes to last four hours and it takes a special design team to create a programme that can keep people engaged for that length of time. I’m delighted that SCM chose us as the innovative partner to pioneer this project with them. This offers a template of best practice to other global businesses that want to bring people together for training without the time and cost of travel,” he says.
On-the-go classroom expericence
The programmes comprised four-hour virtual learning sessions, which were specifically designed to replicate a classroom experience. They include virtual break-out sessions for small group discussions and one-to-one skills practice with an actor-facilitator – all delivered directly to the leader’s laptop, tablet or mobile, without any need for travel.
“Classroom-based training provides key benefits in terms of active interactions to create knowledge, social networking and sharing experiences which you can’t achieve as successfully with e-learning or self-study options,” says JooBee Yeow, Head of Learning & Development for Schibsted Media Group.
“However, today’s busy leaders find it difficult to fit training sessions into their schedule, especially when they have to travel and take time out of work. We had to ensure that the mountain came to Mohammed. People’s time is so valuable that we didn’t want to waste any of it by telling them what to do. The critical aspect is translating knowledge into action, so we wanted the focus to be on skill practice.”
Virtual instructor-led training sessions or webinars usually last a maximum of 90 minutes and generally consist of a one-way knowledge transfer monologue with some occasional interaction around questions. The collaboration between Hemsley Fraser and SCM has challenged this idea by creating engaging four-hour virtual learning experiences, which feature all the principles of accelerated learning.
Electronic books were developed for each programme, to provide leaders with subject information and knowledge before they attended the virtual classroom. These tools also serve as a refresher for learners to revisit whenever required after the training.
Both learning experiences took challenges from the learners’ daily work environments and applied them in practical break-out sessions, where the participants were split into different virtual rooms. In both programmes, the participants benefitted from a one-to-one session on their own specific challenge with an actor-facilitator, who took on the characteristics of the person concerned. They could then practise an important conversation or feedback exchange with the actor-facilitator. As part of their social learning and knowledge creation, participants in the same break-out group also shared their observations, gave feedback and made suggestions from their own experience.
“My actor-facilitator was extremely effective. He challenged me, gave frequent feedback on how I could improve, so that I immediately understood both how and why I should change my approach,” said one of the participants.
Met important training needs
In total, Hemsley Fraser delivered eight virtual instructor-led training sessions for 73 leaders, who were split into cohorts to accommodate different time zones in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Nine of SCM’s top senior management team will attend additional sessions delivered by Hemsley Fraser in 2015.
“These two programmes have enabled us to meet important training needs and the feedback, in terms of their relevance, content and delivery, has reaffirmed the value we created with these learning experiences,” says Yeow.
“As a result of this virtual training, we’ve innovated and gained all of the benefits of interactive classroom-based training without the time and cost of extensive travel. This solution is an excellent compromise between physically attending training and boring self-study methods.”
“JooBee who has a strong passion for leveraging technology for learning has been instrumental in setting a clear vision of the possibilities to replicate the benefits of classroom training into virtual delivery. She has continuously measured and quantified the factors influencing the relevance, content and delivery and worked closely with Hemsley Fraser to iteratively improve each delivery,” says Haugen.
SCM plans to deliver another seven virtual training programmes in 2015, to address the top priorities highlighted in its latest training needs analysis.