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70:20:10 - Seize the seventy

12th May 2014
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As you know, 70% of learning happens while we're working. David Robertson gives us some advice on how best to capture the process.

Most learning and development professionals are by now familiar with the concept of blended learning and that around 70% of learning happens on the job. The rest comes from a mix of social development with colleagues and in the classroom or online training courses. Whilst the concept may be relatively easy to grasp, actually implementing a sustainable learning system that enables staff to learn on the job can be much harder. What the 70% tells us is that learning is a continuous process that never stops. It takes place in different arenas, some that we set up, some that we just happen to work in, and our learning systems need to reflect this.

Ideally, only 10% of learning and development's budget, time and resource should be spent on one-off learning sessions that equip employees with new skills. The other 90% should be on developing a sustainable learning system that helps employees apply their new teachings on the job, and seize the 70%. It should be a system that moves your culture away from people just turning up to a training event not knowing why they are there or how they will apply these skills to the job; to one where learners and their managers treat training as an integrated part of their daily role.

It should consist of processes, tools, metrics and support to help learners get on the learning path and stay on it. Overall, it should capture the following six ways people can learn and develop on the job:

  • Know it - provide online facilities for employees to review course skills, tools and techniques that will help take them to the next level of performance. Teach them how to own this material by reflecting on how it brings value to them and their work.

  • See It - encourage employees to observe skills in action by seeking out examples, information or models at all times that demonstrate what success looks like.

  • Need it - set up communication and measurement plans so learners and managers can provide ongoing feedback on successes, progresses and results and employees can assess their own progress including being able to spot what strengths to build and gaps to address. Create a learning culture that also boosts motivation by encouraging learners to share their successes, observations and ideas with the rest of the team.

  • Do it - set up real life situations for employers to apply their news skills and encourage employees to also find their own opportunities to practice.

  • Grow it - employees should regularly reflect on their achievements and consider what they have learned and still need to learn. Put rewards and recognitions in place to help reinforce new behaviours and motivate people to change.

  • Live it - create a strong coaching culture for ongoing improvement. Design and cultivate learning communities along with learning media and create opportunities for participants to teach as well as learn.

However, to ensure your learning programme is sustained outside of the training room, it's imperative to get senior stakeholder buy-in before rolling it out. Commitment from management will help align the programme to the goals of the business and measure its success - the two biggest reasons for lack of sustainment. Senior stakeholders must agree on which behaviours need to change to achieve the company objectives and how those behaviours will be measured; results which can be reported back to demonstrate a return on the initiative and further investment. This line of sight between learning and the company goals can then be shared with learners and their managers so they are clear on the purpose of the training initiatives and not just undertaking training for trainings sake.

Learners and managers, as well as L&D professionals, can now be accountable for learning and development beyond the training event. By being able to make a connection between their own performance, learning opportunities and the company goals, learners and their managers will be able to continue to develop their skills on the job to the benefit of the business.

Finally, measure behaviour change. Feed these results back to employees as well as senior stakeholders so you all work together to ensure that the 70% of learning that is being seized on the job is always working 100% for the business.

By David Robertson, VP of Forum EMEA global experts in leadership development and sales performance training solutions. The advice in the article above including the six ways people learn on the job are outlined in Forum's The Behaviour Change Handbook

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