The Global Digital Learning Project Manager of the Cloud Communications division of NTT has only been with us for a year, but he’s been involved in Learning and Development for over 23 years. Drawing on learning technologies as varied as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and gamification, Chris ensures that our people are well-trained with regard to the needs of our business in general and to the requirements of their specific job families in particular.
As the driving force behind all of our online training programs, Chris implements a wide variety of e-Learning courses. Some are “required viewing” and inform employees at every level about compliance issues such as GDPR, corporate policies, security awareness, and workstation ergonomics, for example. Others are optional; certain courses concern hard or soft skills and might be aimed at people from upper management all the way to new employees.
The importance of online training
The development of hard and soft skills is a key axis to develop across our regions in order to align on global training programs with regard to our company’s sales methodology, management and leadership programs, and customer relationship management skills.
One way to teach hard skills, for example, is to obtain information from our partners whenever the products we sell are updated, then create a training program for our sales teams and their managers so that everyone is on the same page. “Part of this means being able to manage relationships with external suppliers. We also need to be able to train our Employee Success Managers on how to implement and edit their regional learning paths and contents to be autonomous when needed”, says Chris.
Simply put, when it comes to product training, the better our sales and customer support people understand our products, the better they can sell and support them. Which translates into a better customer experience, all through the product lifecycle.
Yes, soft skills can be taught
Some people think soft skills can’t be trained. They believe that you either have them or you don’t. It’s true that certain employees will naturally be better with soft skills than others, but there’s no reason they can’t be taught like any other skill. Soft skills are valuable, transferable skills and they can play an important role in the success and productivity of our employees.
Chris has implemented virtual soft skills classrooms facilitated by Cindi Hene, Senior Employee Success Manager, for several months now, and has been getting “fantastic feedback” with courses in Presentation Skills, How to Handle Confrontation, How to Run Successful Meetings, and Successfully Managing Change, among others.
“Lots of soft skills can be acquired through e-Learning”, says Chris. “Conflict resolution – aka how to handle confrontation – is a good example. It’s really hard for some people to deal with, but everyone needs to be able to effectively resolve conflicts in the workplace. Our course uses simulation scenarios and role-playing and other devices to teach people how to actively listen, empathize, exercise self-control, and defuse challenging situations.”
The future of digital learning
At the Cloud Communications division of NTT, we’re moving away from the traditional “push” e-Learning model, where companies encourage their employees to sign up for courses, toward “pull” training, a more independent, voluntary model, which allows people to learn what they want when they want, if they want.
“Part of this new model is offering people content they can view at their leisure. For example, we proposed a course during Mental Health Awareness Week and posted it on our Learning Hub. The course is available to everyone, but not obligatory”, explains Chris.
As our company evolves, our L&D department is also changing dramatically. We have lots of things in the pipeline: new technology and management training programs are coming. We’re also developing new onboarding programs for our different regions around the globe. “Our e-Learning programs are going to have to be more agile than ever to keep up with our constantly changing digital needs”, concludes Chris.