Training Your Offshored Team

a man working virtually

Investing in your employee’s professional growth – specifically their knowledge and expertise – pays. In fact, according to the American Society for Training and Development survey, comprehensive training programs increase an employee’s ability to generate higher revenues by 218% and profits by 24%.

It doesn’t matter if the team is onshore and onsite or if it’s a remote and offshored team. The fact is, your virtual teams can bring in a lot of money and business opportunities if you invest in their training.

In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive view of how employers can train their outsourced teams effectively.

Challenges of training outsourced teams

Training virtual teams can be a challenge. Here are some of the common problems that companies typically face:

  • Having employees at different stages of learning

Usually, onshore employees are trained in batches that are created specifically based on stages/levels of learning. But when companies have numerous outsourced teams, it can become difficult to coordinate everyone’s training needs and times. This is mainly because each virtual hiring services provider hires employees with different levels of learning/training in skills.

So, this sometimes results in employees being clubbed together into training sessions despite being at different stages of familiarity with the concept. Trainers then waste a lot of time trying to get newcomers to catch up with the learning.

  • Not having an efficient communication and feedback system in place

Not every company invests in robust internal communication and intra-company social media networking software. This can limit the ability that offshored teams have to communicate with their onshore counterparts.

In fact, virtual teams may not have the proper process/system to share their inputs and questions with the company. Simultaneously, trainers may also find it difficult to run group training activities or provide feedback effectively to remote trainees. This runs the risk of the training session becoming less effective.

  • Having difficulty in sharing training resources overseas/remotely

Many companies have restrictive rules, where offshored teams are not given the same type of access to company resources as the onshore and onsite teams. This can become problematic in terms of training since virtual teams may not have access to all the resources they need for their training.

Even after training, outsourced teams may not receive sufficient or relevant tools, technology & data to help them use the skills/knowledge they have been trained in, on the job. This can reduce the impact of the training provided.

  • Using e-learning technology that is difficult to use

Not every employee will know how to use the e-learning tools the company uses. Without prior training on using the tools themselves, the training sessions may not benefit the employees.

Accessibility is also a huge issue when it comes to employees with disabilities being asked to use tools that are not accessible. The technology designed to train them will hinder the training itself.

  • Not being able to encourage active employee engagement and learning

When people are onsite, it’s easier to engage them to join in the training session. But with virtual teams that are spaced across countries, it becomes immensely challenging to get people to proactively participate in the training session. From social isolation to too many distractions, there are many things that can claim their attention. The resultant lack of participation may sometimes weaken the effectiveness of the training, as employees may not be motivated enough to participate.

  • Difficulty in setting a consistent training schedule

Time zone difference is one of the primary hindrances to training outsourced teams. With such little overlapping time available, companies may not be too inclined to hold training sessions when other pressing matters, such as team meetings and planning deliverables, can be worked on. This can make it challenging to create a consistent training schedule.

  • Short training time

Virtual teams are expected to learn key tools/skills quickly, so they can assist the company effectively. In fact, in many cases, employers expect virtual employees to already possess certain skills. They allocate a very short training time, which may not be sufficient to train the outsourced worker properly.

  • Understanding and accounting for cultural differences

Often, virtual teams hail from different countries. For example, many reputed offshored hiring companies have employees from Asia, Africa, Europe and America. Each country has its own cultural specialty and not understanding what is acceptable and not acceptable according to a particular culture may lead to miscommunication during the training session. Employees may even misunderstand what the trainer tells them, leading to more issues on the job.

Tips to effectively train your offshored teams

Now that we’ve seen what challenges are present in training virtual teams, let’s look at workarounds for these issues and best practices to train outsourced teams:

Determine the right training needs for your offshored teams

When it comes to determining what training needs to focus on, it’s necessary to consider both onsite and offsite teams. Consider what trainings your closest competitors in the industry focus on for their virtual teams. You can even send in a questionnaire to your virtual hires, asking them if there was something in particular that they wanted to be trained on.

You can even ask the virtual team hiring provider about the type of training their staff have received. Then, you can provide training on those areas which you deem are most important to the role the virtual teams will discharge. Or, focus on areas that will add greater value to your company.

Ideally, there should not be a one-size-fits-all approach to training. Each role or level of hiring should have its own bespoke training plan, where both onsite and offshored teams can benefit from your support.

Make learning self-paced, but with a caveat for completion

Live training programs, while very effective, can be difficult to administer when you have outsourced teams. This is why it’s easier to have self-paced training modules which employees can take at their own time and convenience.

In order to prevent your virtual teams from slacking off, you can keep a caveat for completion. For example, employees who complete the training within 48 hours will receive a gift voucher worth $5 from Amazon. Or, teams that will complete all of their training deliverables within 1 month will be treated to a lunch out by the company.

Make trainings easy to complete

Another way to motivate your offshored teams to complete their training on time is to make the sessions bite-sized. A 5-minute training session with 2-3 MCQs at the end will certainly be more compelling than a 30-minute session with essay questions.

Additionally, make your self-paced training programs available on mobile. That way, your outsourced teams will be able to access these training no matter where they are and at all times of the day/night. Some companies even get their own apps developed for this. While you don’t need to do that, you can buy software that supports mobile learning. And this brings us to the next point.

Buy and give access to the right training and collaboration tools

Investment in technology – specifically eLearning solutions – is a must when it comes to training remote and virtual teams. You can use tools like Dropbox to share files with data.

Learning Management Systems such as Mindflash, ProProfs LMS and Moodle can help you create, schedule, run and monitor training sessions start-to-finish. These tools can track learner engagement metrics and provide you insights about how to make your content more interesting and understandable. If you want to run live training sessions, investing in video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype and ezTalks can be very helpful.

For companies on limited budgets, there are free tools like Google Meet, Google Drive and CANVAS are great options.

Choose trainers trained in cross-cultural communication

One of the best ways to ensure that training content and sessions are designed in a culturally sensitive way is to choose trainers and content creators who are trained in cross-cultural communication. That way, you’ll be able to create relevant and impactful training content for your offshored teams, no matter where they are from.

Include accessible and interactive content in training sessions

Text-heavy content can be quite boring and disengaging for many learners. Additionally, such training may not be accessible to all types of learners. Ideally, your content should be versatile and use different formats – text, audio, video, static images, memes, etc. That way, they can be easily consumed and assimilated by employees with different learning styles.

Additionally, it helps to include interactive content such as quizzes, polls, puzzles, jigsaws, games, dynamic infographics, downloadable content, clickable videos, microsites, etc. They make your training content less static and more compelling for virtual teams too.

Make access to company resources role-based and not geography-based

This is one of the most important and effective ways of ensuring your outsourced teams receive your support both during and after the training session. When they don’t have access to the right company resources, they won’t be able to put their new skills/knowledge to use on the job.

One way of giving virtual hires access to resources – while also retaining your corporate data security – is to enable role-based permissions. That way, your remote workers will be granted access relevant to their tasks and no more.

Choose a specific day and time each week to deliver the training

This is a great option if you do want to include a live training or a blended training (mixture of self-paced and trainer-led) sessions. Consult team leaders from all offshored teams and come up with a specific day of the week and a particular time for a collective training session. By making this a consistent event, you’ll give your outsourced teams the freedom and ability to schedule their workloads around your training sessions. Since they’re already informed in advance about the time and day for training, you’ll reduce drop-offs and absenteeism too.

Use checklists to help your outsourced teams meet all training requirements on time

It can be difficult to ensure that all of your remote hires have fulfilled their training obligations. But giving your virtual teams a checklist with all the Must-Do’s can help them monitor their own progress. In order to proceed to the next stage of training, they need to complete the previous tasks.

Bundle in certification to encourage commitment to training

Certification is often the most effective way of training your offshored teams. In fact, certifications will get you greater buy-in and commitment from your employees.

Many certifying agencies offer discounted prices for bulk certification or long-term association with them. You can seek certification and renewal support for affordable prices.

Here’s a tip – use the training checklist to ensure that only deserving candidates get certified. Your virtual teams must complete all preceding steps and check the boxes before moving forward and getting certified.

Wrapping up

Training outsourced teams don’t need to be too difficult. Follow the tips we’ve given above and you’ll see that your offshored teams are as trained as onsite teams. They’ll be ready to use their new expertise to do their best work on the job. For more information about hiring and training virtual teams, Book a Call now!.

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