In the wake of the UK’s first 702010 Practitioner Programme, we put Charles Jennings in the spotlight to answer questions posed by L&D professionals.
How do you get buy-in from business managers to make full use of workplace activities?
Managers can have far greater impact on employee performance than HR or L&D. They do this through encouraging workplace learning and development. Managers who are good at developing their teams set ‘stretch’ goals, give effective feedback, provide opportunities for practice and reflection, and are clear about what they expect and how they will measure success. Studies have shown that managers who are effective at supporting workplace learning have teams that outperform others by up to 27%. You get buy-in from senior managers by making this clear.
To gather evidence of this in your own organisation, set up a study to examine how people perform when their managers are focused and effective on developing their teams. Compare these people with those who are working for managers who aren’t bothered about development. Compare the results – it’s highly likely that the former will be outperforming the latter. Then tell your senior managers...
How can we educate line managers on their role in promoting 702010?
Tell them that they’ll get an extra work day from their teams if they build their own capability to become effective and focus on developing their teams. Also change mindsets to ensure managers understand that developing their teams is probably the most important job they have every day. If they want high performing teams they need to encourage, support and enable workplace and social learning (the ‘70’ and the ‘20’) as well as the ‘10’.
If you feel that the competency of staff is not at the right level or follows the right behaviours, is it not dangerous to put staff development in the hands of non-specialist people?
It’s not a case of either v or. L&D professionals simply cannot provide effective development without the involvement of managers. There’s research going back 30 years that proves this (for instance, see Mary Broard’s Transfer of Training work). Managers are often better placed to assist the development of their teams than L&D ever will be. Of course if you’re focusing on the ‘10’ then L&D pedagogical expertise will be important, but once you move into the ‘20’ and ‘70’ - social and experiential learning efforts – then the specialists are just as likely to be the managers as the L&D department.
What skills/capabilities do we need to build up in the learning function to support embedding learning in work?
Some existing skills and capabilities need to be strengthened, such as performance analysis, business impact and solution impact and measurement. There are some new skills required also, particularly in the ‘20’ and ‘70’ areas. For example: community management and curation, and capabilities to enable and support workplace performance improvement – through performance support and learning at the point-of-need.
In my new book 110 Percent Performance: 702010 and beyond, my co-authors and I have defined new roles such as ‘game changer’ - which has elements of programme management and OD – and ‘performance architect’ – which is a solutions-focused, high-level role that assembles stakeholder issues and challenges and architects solutions (some may be formal training, others may be on-the-job development activities).
Is the use of checklists a tool for embedding learning?
Checklists can provide support at the moment-of-need. If you use checklists often, then the learning will be developed embedded in the task. Checklists can enhance, reinforce or even replace learning that has taken place earlier. But in the context of embedding learning it is ineffective to try to teach specific skills to ‘task’ level outside of the context where the skills are to be used. In other words, it’s best to learn tasks in the context of the real world. This is why aircraft simulators are so important for developing pilots’ skills, as they provide as-near-as-possible realistic conditions in which to practice.
In a busy work environment how can you carve out time for reflection? What is the first step?
You can’t afford the time NOT to carry out reflection! It’s vital to the development process and to build high performance. Can you imagine a top athlete not taking a few minutes out to reflect what went well and what didn’t?
Micro-blogging is one good way to ensure you carve out time for reflection. Set up a team space and encourage every team member to spend two minutes reflecting on what they’ve done or learned at the end of each day. Ask them to list their ongoing challenges and their successes. In a short while you’ll probably see that it has become a habit for them.
You say that ‘embracing the '90' will shift ownership of learning to the learner’. How do mature companies support this?
Many multinational and mature organisations have made this shift, or are making it, successfully. The key here is culture change. This shift only happens if the culture of the organisation adapts to support self-directed learning and there’s a mindset change in every individual to grasp that we own our development (although we may expect our employer to support it).
What are some key activities that people can participate in during work to promote learning?
There are almost as many as you can imagine. But here are a few:
- Using problem solving as a learning technique
- Using special assignments for development
- Individual reflection
- Job swaps and shadowing for development
- Using team project de-briefs as a learning tool
- Mentoring and reverse mentoring
- Coaching and encouraging informal feedback
- Building and exploiting internal and external networks
- Using team meetings for reflection and learning
- Using action learning
These questions were posed to Charles by L&D professionals during a 702010 webinar with the Corporate eLearning Consortium. You can read all the questions and answers, and download the recording of the webinar, on the Consortium’s website.
Charles Jennings is a recognised 702010 specialist who has designed the UK’s first 702010 Practitioner Programme with the Corporate eLearning Consortium, accredited by the ILM. He’ll be talking about his new book 702010 Towards 100% Performance at Learning Technologies, both in the conference and on the exhibition floor, at London Olympia 3 & 4 February 2016. You can also watch Charles talking about 702010 here