50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10 (4)

50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10

(Here are Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3)

The 10: improving the outcomes of formal learning 

Formal learning includes courses, workshops, seminars, online learning and certification training. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations aren’t using online learning to its full potential, and the results at those organizations reflect that. Learning expert Robert Brinkerhoff figures only about 15 percent of formal training lessons change behavior.12 This is a reflection of both formal learning creation and of the lack of focus on experiential and exposure learning. If what we learn is not reinforced with reflection and application, the lessons never make it into long-term memory.

Only when all three learning components are implemented together will a learning and development department see superior results.

Formal learning is typically conducted by an instructor. So why do we address it in a paper on managers? Because managers can make or break the success of formal learning programs

Research has found that the most important factor in translating formal learning into improved performance is the expectation set by managers before the training takes place13. Understanding the needs of the learners and following up after the event are also essential for formal learning success.

Broad’s research highlights the fact that the manager’s expectations of the team’s performance and aptitude should closely align with the objectives and design of any formal learning course. Otherwise the course will be of little or no use. 

Create an environment
that nurtures learning

Working through managers instead of through courses is a radical shift for learning and development. 

Managers need to understand — and this is where senior management support is mandatory — that both L&D and the managers themselves are shifting responsibilities. Managers will be making 70-20-10 productive; L&D will be doing anything possible to increase performance and productivity.

Blended, a leading learning organization in Australia, has implemented 70-20-10 in many organizations. Blended asked companies “Which of the following is the main barrier to a leader-led learning culture in your organization?”

They responded:

  1. Leaders do not have the time to perform a teaching/coaching role: 28 percent
  2. Leaders lack teaching/coaching capabilities: 32 percent
  3. The organization lacks formal performance expectations for leader-led learning: 28 percent

How would you rebut these responses? Like this:

  1. This is not time away from the job. Rather, it’s ramping people up to do a better job. The time required for mentoring is offset by more delegation to subordinates and improvements in the way work is performed.
  2. No one is asking managers to become teachers. Rather, the focus is on helping people perform better. This sort of coaching produces results.
  3. If you don’t have performance expectations, this is a great time to set them. That’s one of the important areas in which we need senior executive support.

A word on motivating employees

People are naturally motivated to do things they find meaningful. The trick is that meaningful is subjective, so people have to find the work that they find personally meaningful — and often that changes over the course of a career. But when someone finds meaningful work, they take pride in accomplishment. They enjoy solving problems. They don’t shirk working for a cause they believe in.

Free workers to make their own decisions, give them a mission that’s greater than themselves and set high expectations. Establish targets and give workers the discretion to figure out how to reach them. Challenge them to learn how to be all they can be and get out of their way. Don’t take them by the hand unless they ask for it. Managers must challenge their people to be all they can be and give them the freedom to do it. Sell the managers on the 70-20-10 framework.

About the Internet Time Alliance

The Internet Time Alliance helps clients understand and embrace complexity and adopt new ways of working and learning. We ask the tough questions and explore the underlying assumptions of how they do business. Then we work with them to develop strategies and plans for transformation and improvement. Email me for information on working with the Alliance.


About GoToTraining


Online Training Made Easy™

Citrix GoToTraining is an easy-to-use online training service that allows you to move your entire training program online for more efficient customer and employee training. Hold unlimited online training sessions with up to 200 attendees from around the world right from your Mac or PC. Reach more trainees, collect real-time feedback, record and store your training sessions and more – all while slashing travel costs. To learn more, visit www.gototraining.com.

Citrix sponsored the research and writing of much of the material in this set of posts. Please visitCitrixOnline to see the original paper in its entirety.


About the authorjcc

Jay Cross is an author, advocate and raconteur who writes about workplace learning, leadership, organizational change, innovation, technology and the future. His educational white papers, articles and research reports persuade people to take action.

Jay has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix. A champion of informal learning and systems thinking, Jay’s calling is to create happier, more productive workplaces. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He literally wrote the book on Informal Learning. He is currently researching the correlation of psychological well-being and performance on the job.

Jay works from the Internet Time Lab in Berkeley, California, high in the hills a dozen miles east of the Golden Gate Bridge and a mile and a half from UC Berkeley. People visit the Lab to spark innovation and think fresh thoughts.He is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School.

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