We often fear what we do not understand. When the Malaysian government announced the first Movement Control Order (MCO) in March 2020, all training programmes came to a halt – at least for me. Although I studied Computer Engineering back in the day, I had never really gone full swing geek-mode when it came to integrating technology in my training programmes.
Probably because I started my career in training with an old school mindset – writing, doing, and physical interactions. I trained participants time management skills by teaching them how to keep track of tasks and events in an organiser. My soft skills classes had plenty of practical exercises, and my team engagement programmes mostly had management games that required physical tasks and group work. All these contributed to me being specifical of online training.
Even before the MCO started, when other trainers asked me about training online, I would reply, “Sorry, not my forte.”
In retrospect, that was my response because subconsciously I did not have confidence that I could produce the same level of engagement and effectiveness without using tools and techniques that I had grown familiar with. The bitter reality was, I did not want to leave my comfort zone.
As the MCO started, I thought I would be just fine, and things will go back to normal once the MCO was lifted in two weeks’ time. I believed that I could wait it out. But then the MCO was extended, not once but a few times. I had to re-evaluate by beliefs. As much as I found it uncomfortable, I came to terms that I must seek to understand this “online-thingy” if I were to survive post-pandemic. Besides, I had a lot of time on my hands now and nothing much to do.
Change had always been inevitable. Even though we talk a lot about the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) in recent years, it had been used as early as 1987. Even the idea of disruptive technologies was first used in 1997. In short, even without the pandemic, the world has been non-stop evolving. Perhaps I was too ignorant of the signs but nevertheless now, “my world” is directly affected – specifically the local training industry.
We as trainers often talk about motivation, self-development, improvements, positivity, and such to our participants. But when it is us that needs to face the hard facts, we become emotional, defensive, in denial, and react negatively. I am not saying this to anyone else, I am saying it to myself – I failed to walk the talk and I had to snap out of it quickly if I wanted to continue providing for my family and continue my career as a trainer.
It took me a while but, after a year, I can confidently say that within my own capacity, I somewhat figured out “online training”. I managed to publish a book based on my experience of going online. I did it to share tips for those who were struggling and only now are beginning to explore online training (just like I was). I started a new personal YouTube channel fresh with the intention of practicing to get comfortable talking to a camera. It now has close to 200 videos of me sharing content on training and soft skills related topics. I write eBooks and articles online almost daily to fine tune the way I explain things in text. All this, so that when the time comes, I will be better prepared. I am so grateful that in the past months, I managed to get several webinars and online workshop gigs with participants attending from across the globe including Poland, India, the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
The signs are showing that none of this online training is slowing down. The pandemic may subside in due time, but technology will continue to affect the way we work and do business. The newer generations coming into the workforce are now better informed and more equipped with tools that enable them to learn faster than before. Although face-to-face interactions is part of human nature and we will always have room for those type of training programmes, we should not be too naïve to see that our strategy must change and evolve over time.
There is nothing to fear if we are willing to learn and understand. Trainers will not go obsolete if we continue to add value to the content available. Competition and market offerings of freebies does not put a company out of business, being stubborn and not wanting to improve customer experience does. So, to all my trainer friends out there, all I can say is, “Let’s keep a good attitude and stay relevant!”