If you lead an organization and plan on moving your learning program to a remote setting, you may face a difficult decision when it comes to choosing your facilitators and administrators. Should you hire a new staff person with experience in online work? Or should you train an existing employee instead?
Whether you hire an outside facilitator or choose an existing team mate to lead your remote learning program, both decisions have pros and cons. And every organization’s needs are unique, so these should guide the decision. Here’s what you should be asking in a needs assessment, if you’re not sure where to start.
However, there are some clear pros and cons in terms of choosing a facilitator.
Having an existing team member run your online learning program
Pros of hiring from within
One pro of hiring an existing team member is that you already know them and what they do. You have a history with them that indicates how adept they are at change or if they have untapped skills your team can benefit from. Assigning an existing team member to your training program can make the transition much smoother.
Internal employees also know you and what you do. It takes less time for them to understand the details of your organization and your mission. Plus, an existing trainer also has in-depth knowledge of your material and audience. Becoming a facilitator for your new training program is more about adapting the online environment than to your company. Someone can always learn how to manage an online program.
Cost-saving might also be a factor in your decision. Hiring from within reduces hard hiring costs, such as interview time, office space, or even relocation fees.
Cons of hiring from within
Promoting a staff member into a new training position has inherent disadvantages. If multiple employees are vying for one job, it could create animosity among the whole team. This could leak into management, especially if there are individuals that are resistant to strategic change. Unfortunately, this is common in organizations considering the transition to online learning programs.
A bigger problem with hiring for computer-based training is that you probably don’t know what you don’t know. How do you develop talent if you’re not sure what to do? Similarly, not all organizations are structurally set up to develop internal talent. These issues combined lead to time, which you might not have to dedicate to transforming your in-person trainers into online pros.
Another potential con of choosing an internal hire is that the group dynamics can shift — and not always in a good way. Some people are simply nervous about online training. To succeed in this transition, effective communication is vital for facilitators and learners alike.
Hiring a new trainer to facilitate your remote training program
Pros of hiring a new trainer
Those are all compelling reasons for tapping your internal talent pool, but hiring an external trainer who has detailed knowledge about online facilitation can be a great investment for your entire organization. While an external trainer won’t know as much about your organization as an existing team member does, they will have critical skills in the online environment. Leading an online learning program is different from teaching in a live classroom, and an expert will already know how to overcome obstacles.
The new skills an outside hire can bring will also move into the rest of your organization. The energy and fresh ideas a new person brings can revitalize your workforce and feed ideas to the rest of the staff. This is especially true if your new hire has experience at a competitor organization. The boost to your overall intellectual capital may bring benefits that are hard to quantify from the onset.
Cons of hiring a new trainer
Expertise aside, outside trainers come with their own host of drawbacks. For one, they cost more. According to a study from Matthew Bidwell, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, external hires get paid 18% to 20% more than internal employees do for the same job. They also receive lower performance reviews.
They’re also more likely to leave. That’s difficult for an organization to handle when they’ve paid more and have less stability. It can also throw off your remote learning program if you end up with no trainer at all.
Verdict: Is hiring from within or finding a new facilitator better for your remote learning program?
Your organization must decide if it’s better to hire from within than outside, so there’s no correct decision. However, after working for years with organizations in the early stages of creating an online learning program, I recommend hiring from outside.
For most entities, a new online learning program represents a strategic change, and strategic changes are difficult to spark from within. Most also lack staff who have computer skills and skills related to communicating online. Fear of technology is a powerful inhibitor, so it helps to have someone who feels free moving in an online classroom.
Organizations that for some reason can’t hire a new staff member should at the very least hire an online education advisor. This person can coach your team through the experience of online training and help develop a structure you can use for the life of your program.
Making a hiring decisions for online trainers is hard. Contact Talance for a free consultation to understand what path might be better for you.