How to Design an Overseas Training Program from Scratch
In April 2019, my manager asked me to join a meeting that changed my life. I walked away with the responsibility to design a training program for our brand-new overseas workforce.
As the Manager for Training and Development at DataFile Technologies, I consistently guide new employees through our various service lines. But training overseas was a whole new ballgame. How would I connect to people in the Philippines? How would I explain American healthcare, data management and HIPAA compliance to them?
When I sat down to design the training program, I was at a loss. Of course, I consulted the internet (with no luck). I even contacted overseas trainers in my network, who wouldn’t give me the time of day. I was stuck.
Figure 1. "Training" (by Nick Youngson, CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images)
Back to the Drawing Board
I started where anyone would—by reviewing the training course we use for current, in-house employees.
Then I issued a team-wide query, asking:
- Is the training effective?
- Is it comprehensive enough?
- Could it be automated?
- Does it provide adequate practice before going live?
This assessment identified several opportunities for improvement. Great, I had my starting point.
Preparing the Material
I needed to update the content to ensure any new employee—whether in the US or Manila—can understand our company, culture, operations and ROI (return on investment) service. The training needed to be crystal clear and repeatable, because who knows—we could continue to grow and have remote workforces all around the world. Wouldn’t that be spectacular?
Step One: Introduce the material from a 10,000-foot view.
The training begins with describing how the ROI product is at work in the US healthcare industry—from request to authorization to distribution.
Step Two: Dig into the weeds.
Next, we uncover the various elements of the ROI process, including authorization, documentation, indexing, types of requestors, etc.
Step Three: Provide real-world examples.
Finally, we illustrate several common ROI scenarios and how to handle them.
The key to any good training program is content reinforcement and internal automation.
Pro Tip: Provide simple tests that effectively measure your trainees’ progress. We design ours in Adobe!
I had taken my first cut at the program, and now it was time to share my creation. Before showing the material to 75 new Manila employees, I tested the material in-house. Their feedback provided useful adjustments. After that, it was time to onboard the new team.
We did the entire shebang over HIPAA-compliant video conferencing. I recommend using several cameras and microphones for optimal clarity during the session.
In total, the training program took two weeks. Some sections took longer than expected, which served as a humble reminder that working cross-culturally requires patience, acceptance and understanding. Things don’t always go exactly as planned, and that’s okay.
It Wasn’t Easy
To accommodate the time difference, I worked nights—5:00 pm to 2:00 am (not an amazing schedule for work / life balance). Good thing it only lasted two weeks. Then it was time to wrap up on-site. That’s right, I flew to Manila to meet the new team.
That trip exposed crucial insights. For example, it turns out a Jeopardy learning game is not effective for people who have never heard of Jeopardy! Ooops. But these were not roadblocks—they were learning opportunities to improve the course.
In the End
The end-result was a huge success. In as little as a few months, the Manila ROI team became as effective as the US team. By the end of the year, we will also have trained 50 new Filipino employees. Of course, all of this was accomplished with the support of my incredible team and CEO. If you’re working on instructional design for an overseas workforce, you’re not the only one. With the right team and goal, anything is possible.
About the Author
Darin Challacombe serves as the Manager for Training and Development at DataFile Technologies and is a Psychology Professor at Fort Hays State University. Dr. Challacombe, who holds a PhD in General Psychology from Northcentral University, resides in Kansas City.
His email is Darin.Challacombe@DatafileTechnologies.com.
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