While live virtual training is commonplace in today’s post-pandemic working world, it was still a newer field when Savina Perez, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer at Hone, entered it in 2018. Hone is a leader in deploying live learning at scale to power behavior change, human connection and continuous development for people everywhere. Its innovative approach to human skills development is helping to change workplace culture.
Savina recently joined us on The BragWorthy Culture to share Hone’s journey and some lessons she’s learned along the way.
Hone’s journey grew out of Savina’s own workplace journey. In her professional life, she moved from individual contributor to manager, director and then to a VP position, but without a lot of formalized coaching along the way. She knows that with training, she could have had the chance to receive and develop other opportunities, both inside the companies she was working with and more generally.
Having to learn on the job in a trial-by-fire scenario made Savina want to build something that would enable access to experience, guidance and training for people at all levels in all kinds of organizations. She and her co-founder were aligned on what that meant concretely and noted they would have to buy what they were selling themselves — they had to make sure they had formalized structures in place to grow their own team.
One of the decisions Hone made early on was to commit to live remote training. This allowed it to serve more companies but it also corresponded to a decision to be remote as a company. That decision allowed it to recruit talent from all over, not just what was available in a given region.
Making Live Remote Training Better
Savina and her team knew that live remote training didn’t have the best reputation, particularly when trainings were full of hundreds of attendees and a video call was more like a webinar than anything interactive. This can lead to disengagement: students can be observed looking away, clicking on other tabs or screens. This isn’t a recipe for engagement or successful training. “Training is only as effective as the engagement of the people going through that training,” Savina says.
So the first way that Hone set about making sure it would get more engagement was to reduce the training size. Smaller classes not only meant classroom management would be easier but also that instructors could interact more with their audience. They could ask students more questions, separate them into breakout rooms and conduct polls that drove conversation and the direction of learning.
Another aspect that Hone zeroed in on was the wide variety of time zones being served. It wanted all students to have similar experiences of service and attentiveness. So rather than having one centralized time zone for questions and engagement, Hone worked to make sure that various time zones were covered by teams that were more time-zone compatible, leading to faster response times and students feeling heard and valued.
In addition to time-zone compatibility, another important consideration is cultural relevance; the way a message lands or is framed in one culture can be adjusted in other cultures. Hone made sure its trainings considered cultural differences in how messages were presented, while still preserving the overall company culture of multinational companies.
Savina and her team utilized the experience of high-quality executive coaches to make improvements to live training. These coaches shared their techniques for what worked remotely and what didn’t, creating a curriculum and experience that would have students engaged and visibly leaning towards their screens, instead of listlessly scrolling through other feeds to pass the time.
Building Employee Hubs
While Hone has been remote-first from day one, it’s continued to value the power of in-person interactions and, as such, it has employee hubs in San Francisco, San Diego and New York.
A hub is exactly what it sounds like: a space where employees can come to work together instead of working at home or in separate coworking spaces. This allows for all the brainstorming and collaboration that comes with in-person working but also offers the chance for teams to socialize outside of work, having meals or drinks together, or even attending events.
As Hone has continued to grow and fundraise, it’s wanted to lean on the advice of others who have gone through the process before. To find advisors, Savina started by leveraging Hone’s network to find high-caliber individuals, then asked those people if they would be willing to offer feedback on a demo of the product.
That simple request not only led to feedback but in some cases to engaged advisors who were willing to give their time and expertise to help grow Hone. These advisors were inspired by the product and interested to see where and how it could grow.
As Savina looks to the future of the company, she sees a lot of value in:
- One-on-one meetings. It’s important to ensure that people feel heard and seen and there’s nothing that communicates this better than individual meetings. Savina also sees value in skip-level one-on-ones to offer on-the-ground insights that wouldn’t usually be gleaned from ordinary interactions.
- Founder lunches. Savina offers a monthly forum for people to ask questions on any subject or topic that interests them. This offers transparency and puts a more human face on some of the leadership team.
- Enjoying the journey. While building a fast-growing company is always going to feel like moving at 1,000 miles a minute, it’s important to periodically step back and appreciate the impact that the company has had on its stakeholders.
Check Out the Full Episode
Learn more from our chat with Savina by listening to our full interview on Apple or Spotify.
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