Virtual Engagement: Beyond Technology
Technology – By Krishna C. Kalva
Who would have thought the transition to virtual conversations would be faster than anticipated at the start of this decade?
I cannot think of any industry, organization or individual that has not witnessed the impact of the global pandemic. Though the normal life we have been used to is disrupted, it did open a spectrum of opportunities that we usually might have postponed or avoided.
One such example is the push for digitalization that is accelerated by leveraging technology to reduce physical contact. Organizations that were focused on defining their digitalization strategies had to “fast forward” their intentions and implementation to stay relevant and keep their workforces safe. This opened the door for all by highlighting the need to adapt and continue to run the business in these different times.
So, what does it take to succeed in this journey toward a new normal?
The shift toward virtual engagement has put enormous responsibility on learning & development teams in upskilling — and sometimes reskilling — the workforce. There are numerous articles and videos that are inspiring and helpful for self learning.
However, there seems to be a pattern that might be slowing down the workforce’s ability to leverage their potential and remain effective in a virtual work environment. This pattern consists of factors such as technological savviness, conversational techniques, empathy, effective listening, etc., that if executed properly elevate virtual presence by making it more human.
The opportunity for L&D teams is to create awareness, so that individuals can seamlessly transition from in-person to virtual conversations. For example, with most interactions moving to virtual, there are signs of virtual fatigue. With shorter attention spans, in-person conversations that used to be effective don’t seem to have the same impact when discussed online. The ask is to keep it short and interactive; have fun using communication technology and offer a clear message that calls for an action.
The role of L&D teams is to identify competencies that are essential to remain engaging and collaborative in a digital setting, and to define a framework that empowers individuals to learn virtual techniques and practice them. Feedback and coaching act as guiding principles that can help and facilitate in generating creative ideas, techniques and methodologies.
This approach can also help to validate if the technique chosen and applied is bringing the desired results or not. One of the key outcomes of this approach is to build a community wherein everybody can learn, practice and share experiences to collectively succeed.
It is important for individuals as well as organizations to be aware of the changing learning and social dynamics. This is an evolutionary journey, and success lies in listening, empathizing and adjusting the approach to address specific needs and expectations.
Technology is evolutionary; however, it’s human expertise, behaviors and preferences — combined with awareness — that guide us in having engaging and impactful conversations.
Krishna C. Kalva is learning solution manager at Siemens Healthineers. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.