Peter Allen

Unconscious bias training online – what a terrible idea!

Facilitated, online learning and development webinars can be an effective means to raise awareness of unconscious bias, one which helps participants identify ways to ameliorate the frequently unhelpful natural tendencies of the way our minds work.

In the two years we’ve been delivering online sessions, 99% of delegates have confirmed that they found them a worthwhile experience. And everybody who has participated, that’s 100%, tells us they now recognise the importance of unconscious bias in the workplace and, even better, they have ideas about what they can do about it.

We kind of didn’t want this to be true.

Overcoming our bias against online learning

When one of our long-term clients, one who really liked our experiential unconscious bias workshops, asked us whether we’d ever thought of creating a webinar version, I’ll be honest, we were reluctant to even consider the idea.

Our drama based approach is all about interaction and an emotional connection with the characters and scenarios we bring to life. We give participants experiences and help them recognise their reactions. Then, using skilful facilitation, we pride ourselves on getting them talking and exploring their own assumptions and potential biases. All of this is backed up with electronic polling to anonymously take account of, and quantify, everybody’s experiences. It’s a tried and tested approach that delivers.

And we couldn’t see how it could ever really work through a screen.

Getting out of our comfort zone

Our client, who was singularly unimpressed with the rather dry and traditional e-learning material they’d sampled elsewhere, encouraged us to give it a go. They weren’t in a position to commission a wide scale programme of our half-day Unconscious Bias workshops, but they were convinced we could put together a shorter online version that kept key elements and could be delivered to up to 15 participants at a time, as and when required.

Looking back, they had more vision and faith in our ability than we did. A lesson I took to heart.

A successful investment

With the excellent support of our client, we set to developing a 90 minute version of our unconscious bias workshop, one which also includes:

  • Experiential video clips, streamed live;
  • Facilitation and interaction with participants; and
  • Live polls

And, long story short, it works.

We’ve successfully run 10 sessions, with mixed groups of employees; some of them on their own and some in small groups. Results like those quoted above speak for themselves. And our client is very happy and continues to commission sessions. They understand an online solution is never going to be the same as having a trainer and a delivery team of actors in the room, but it’s clearly having the kind of impact they believed it could.

From our point of view, we’ve learnt lots about using this technology, its strengths and its limitations. (Try running an online training session when your phone company with no notice switches off the local telephone exchange for the day!)  We don’t foresee a day when this supplants our main offer, but we now fully grasp how an online approach can make a positive difference. And ultimately, that’s what matters to us most.

If you want to start addressing unconscious bias in your organisation and think that facilitated online learning and development webinars could play a part, by all means drop me an email and I’d be happy to arrange a time to demonstrate our approach.

How to give employees a better training experience

A much better way to learn than traditional training methods.”
Delegate Feedback

This. Exactly this.

At times we grapple with how best to sum up this drama-based experiential learning thing we do here at Enact, but we always know precisely why we do it. It’s just so much better than the prevailing training and learning development experience at work.

Normal Service

Let’s face it, the prospect of a training course in most workplaces isn’t filling many employees with enthusiasm. Chalk and talk, death by PowerPoint, hours at the keyboard watching videos and answering multiple choice online learning modules (no more connecting with other people in the coffee breaks, scratch that unquantifiable benefit), it’s hard to make the case that the typical training experience is pushing many boundaries besides tolerance to boredom. No doubt it suffices, gets the job done and ticks boxes, but it’s not an experience to write home about. What does that say about priorities? Talk about people as the number one asset, then do that to them. Fortunately, there are companies out there that take a different view.

A New Normal

Reading through the delegate feedback from recently completed training programmes run with Yorkshire Coast Homes and Spirax Sarco, I couldn’t help but reflect on how companies like these want to provide their employees with training and learning development experiences way outside the norm, and are successfully making it happen. Yes, that’s good for us, but what gives me the biggest buzz is knowing all those employees are getting a learning experience they deserve. One that engages and inspires as it informs.

Take a read, see what you think:

“I’ve never witnessed a course delivery like this. Very impressed.”

“Unlike any other training I have undertaken and enjoyed it very much.”

“Very engaging! Something different, not the standard training course.”

“Having done many such courses across companies this stands out.”

“It was fun, not the usual PowerPoint stuff.”

“Not seen acting in training before – it was very effective.”

“Great session. Have seen similar content delivered through online video courses in the past, which do not have the same impact.”

“Very imaginative delivery of content, first time I have been entirely hooked during the ENTIRE training session!”

An Opportunity

If you also want to give your employees training experiences that break the mould, you could well be interested in ‘Out of the Box’  the free event we’re putting together for the 8 November in Warwick. You can find out more and express your interest here. We’re continually on the lookout for new partners to develop great training and learning development experiences with, so I hope to see you there.