People often see training and development as events, whereas the vast bulk of it occurs seamlessly everyday on-the-job.
Daniel Pink in his book ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’ identifies three primary drivers of motivation and engagement. One of those is mastery – the sense that tomorrow we’ll be a little bit better at whatever it is that we do than we were yesterday, a need we all have to perceive a sense of self development and personal progress. Part of our fundamental human set-up probably has you irked right now that I haven’t yet mentioned what the other two primary drivers of motivation and engagement are.
Last century, Lombardo and Eichinger came up with their 70-20-10 model depicting the average sources of training and development in the workplace. (I say last century but it was 1996. But these days, 1996 is so ‘last century.’) My son was born in 1996. He’s taller than me now. He has a great part-time job with a great employer at Albany Pak n’ Save. His experience pretty much replicates the 70-20-10 model. 70% of his workplace learning occurs ‘on the job’ whilst performing tasks and solving problems. 20% occurs in semi-formal coaching sessions and via feedback. The remaining 10% occurs in formal situations like classroom training sessions and self-directed reading.
Some people see training as an event that occurs in the training room, according to a schedule on a wall or computer somewhere. There is a line on a budget called ‘Training and Development.’ One of the services I deliver for organisations is training. A trend I’ve noticed accelerating is a greater awareness, acceptance and embracing of supporting that informal, on-the-job learning.
These days I’m loving that, due to demand, I’m running a lot fewer sessions delivering content and a lot more on how to deliver content, provide feedback, manage performance and vary communication styles. That’s the stuff that enables workplace leaders to support workplace learning. I’m not in love with the term ‘Training and Development’ but I will marry the term ‘Workplace Learning.’
From smartphones to intranets to job-aids to NZQA to remuneration matrices linked to demonstrable and documented skill acquisition, a whole raft of ideas, technologies and demands have driven and supported this sea change. We need to know what we need to know when we need to know it. The people we lead in an increasingly complex and flexible workplace can’t be expected to be trained in everything then let loose. Increasingly in job descriptions and job interview scripts, I’m seeing ‘Ability to Learn’ as a critical competency. And it should be.
Knowledge and expertise you have today may be obsolete soon enough, if not tomorrow. Recently the last factory in the world that made typewriters closed down and the last telegraph service was discontinued. I presume once there was a hey-day when parents tried to convince their kids to grow up and get into the lucrative typewriter manufacturing and telegraph delivery gigs. They’re looking pretty foolish now. We all need to learn better skills on how to learn – how to be more efficient and effective at learning and, more importantly for employers, how to support others in their everyday learning.
Even more last century and harder to attribute than the 70-20-10 model is the Four Stage Competency Model. Wiki says it’s from the 1970s and credits Noel Burch. It’s a task-specific model so let’s use driving as an example. At stage 1, you’re not very good but you’re keen as you don’t yet realise how not good at it you are. This is unconscious incompetence. Then you have a go and experience some failure. This is conscious incompetence. Over time and with practice and coaching, you can do it unsupervised but you still really have to think about it. This is conscious competence. Eventually, you get in your car, blink, and suddenly you’ve driven to work with no recollection of the preceding forty minutes. You’re in stage 4 – unconscious competence. Any bad habits are well engrained now. You might get stuck on a level. You might go backwards. Critical to progression is the support of a supervisor via deliberate practice and feedback. The model is helpful for workplace leaders to know because you need to provide the people you lead with different things depending on what stage they’re at.
So let’s let T&D go the way of typewriters and telegraphs and let’s celebrate workplace learning. (Oh, and the other two drivers of motivation and engagement are Autonomy and Purpose.)
But, do people really care passionately about investing in learning? Recently, on my Brain-Based Boss FaceBook page, I posted a link to a great article on research linking investing in skills paying off economically. It got zero responses. Separately, I also posted a flippant and sarcastic criticism of the new Whittaker’s L&P flavoured chocolate. It got dozens of responses…