Only small amounts of the learning people do in their jobs takes place in a classroom.   In fact, the 70/20/10 Learning and Development Model based on research by Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger for the Center for Creative Leadership suggests the following ratios:

  • 70% of learning occurs through experience
  • 20% of learning occurs through others
  • 10% of learning occurs through formal training

Based on the numbers above it appears that on-the-job training is at the head of the class.  That probably didn’t come as a surprise did it?  Most people will agree that practical experience is a good way to learn.

In fact, if you’ve been around the block a time or two, the old adage “experience is the best teacher” is probably anchored in your mindset.  When I reflect on my training and development through practical experience I always find Will Rogers’ perspective insightful, but also at times, troublesome:

The trouble with using experience as your guide is that sometimes the final exam comes first, then the lesson.”

Why troublesome? It is because there is definitely a negative impact on organizations when continuing education is down played, or even worse, when formal training is completely discontinued.  Let’s face it, formal training is often necessary.  When you hire employees, it would be convenient if they would be adept at every skill the job requires or will require in the future. But that’s not realistic.  Demands change and so businesses have to adapt quickly, which means managers need to take on a growth mindset.

Managers with growth mindsets believe that their teams can learn, change, and develop needed skills.  As a manager you can foster a growth mindset and help your direct reports with career development when you do the following:

  1. Do not take a “one size fits all” approach to training.  Instead, you need to take the time to understand the training that each individual needs, so that you can provide the right training for the right people.
  2.  Work with your direct reports to set development goals, and match appropriate mentoring, job rotation, coaching, and other activities to the goals you set together.
  3. Tie development goals to the business goals of your work group, department, or company.  Development is more likely to be taken seriously when clear connections are made to the goals of your business.
  4. Cultivate a culture of learning and development.  When managers support development and follow through with their employees, the benefits quickly become apparent and other managers and employees follow suit.
  5. Look beyond the skills an employee currently has.  Many, skills are transferable.  The job an employee is currently performing may not be the only fit or the best fit for that employee.
  6. As employees learn new skills, modify the levels of direction and collaboration you provide. New skills and tasks tend to require a lot of manager involvement.  However, when the employee achieves proficiency and becomes confident, he or she typically wants a commensurate level of autonomy and responsibility.  Confidence grows with successful adoption of an autonomous role.
In a later post, I’ll take a closer look at how you mix collaboration and direction to move employees through the stages of learning new tasks and skills.

 

Alan See is the Chief Marketing Officer at MindLeaders. He has written the following guest post for the Networking Exchange Blog.