As well as looking back over the previous year’s performance, performance reviews should be used as an opportunity for the employee and line manager to talk about development opportunities.
In my experience these conversations can be painful when little consideration has been given by either party as to where the employee needs to focus their development to be better able to do their job, take on more responsibility and move their careers forward. In some quarters, it is still seems to be the case that development is seen as going on a training course. I have come across a number of organisations where a training budget is assigned to each staff member with the expectation that employees will decide what training they would like regardless of the impact it will have on their performance, behaviour and progression.
Training of course has a part to play when it comes to developing people but we should look at other options first. Think about the 10/20/70 learning and development model. This model suggests the following.
70% of our learning and development comes from informal experiential learning – learning by doing. Working on tasks and problems has a pronounced developmental impact even if we don’t always recognise it. I have had conversations with people who say that no investment is made in their development. However, asking them to describe what new things they have learned in the last week whilst carrying out their everyday activities can make them aware that even what seem to be the most insignificant of new experiences can broaden their horizons. Experiential learning is available all the time and doesn’t cost anything.
The 20% component of the model refers to learning by way of coaching, mentoring and being given on-going feedback on performance and behaviour. Being nurtured and supported by others in the business who have the skills and knowledge we need as well as being given feedback as to how well we apply it is a key method of learning and developing. Like experiential learning, learning through the support of others is by and large readily available and is cost-free. Organisations with a strong coaching culture often have well-rounded employees who are motivated to learn, develop and progress.
The 10% element refers to training. As I said earlier, there is without doubt a place for training as part of the development process. However, training can be expensive, time-consuming and resource-draining when employees are required to take time out of work to attend courses, and not always relevant when it transpires that only a small portion of the training is actually of value to the employee and their business. The general rule of thumb should be that training should be deployed where there is the need to bring new skills and knowledge into the business that currently doesn’t have but needs to improve its proposition. HR specialists should work with training providers to ensure the content of their courses addresses the development need before employees are signed up. They also need to work with employees – and their line managers – after the training to ensure skills and behaviours learned are then applied effectively in the workplace.
So when it comes to learning and development, consider the 10/20/70 model first. Promote the value of experiential learning as your first port of call and help your employees recognise the value of it. Consider opportunities for coaching within the business and if you don’t have one, think about creating a coaching culture. Make use of formal training opportunities but use these sparingly, making sure they meet the need and add value to both the employee and the business.
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Nick Lawson-Williams, HR Director.