70-20-10, that old chestnut

With no line manager support, it is highly likely old habits will slowly creep back after any learning intervention.

Here are my top 10 tips to help support others.

Those of us in the learning and development field will be very familiar with the cry of ’70-20-10’. In fact, the principle of learning impact being focused around the combination of ‘on the job application’ (70), ‘coaching support’ (20) and ‘training’ (in whatever guise it happens to be) counting for a lowly 10 percent, is well documented and backed by solid evidence. So, this is NOT about that…because whilst there are other theories out there…broadly there is no reason to challenge this paradigm.

Is coaching support available?

What this is about, is the ‘20’. I have an unwavering conviction around this; if you don’t have a line manager who is ready to nurture, cajole, support, challenge, coach, stretch and expect from you…learning that you have taken from your ‘training’ (whatever form that may have taken), is highly likely to evaporate into thin air as you slowly creep back to ‘how you used to do it’. With no-one to hold you to account, no-one to coach and challenge you, and no-one to assess how you are performing, the easiest option is for nothing to happen (it’s human nature after all…you become overwhelmed by the stuff of life, what seemed compelling, life changing and essential to apply, quickly slips into the annals of time, along with the progress that you could have made).

This may seem to be an uncharacteristically negative view of the world from someone who has made it his lifelong career to help bring change to others and help them enjoy performing at their best. But it is true. My experience is consistent…no matter what culture, industry, role or ‘topic’ – where you have a supportive ‘significant other’ (read boss, line manager, peer-to-peer coach, or whatever that ‘title’ may be), your chances of actually making that change you seek, is dramatically enhanced.

“Tell me something I didn’t know” (I hear you think).

Why does it not happen?

Those of you that are reading this who are in that position of managing others, and managing others that occasionally experience ‘learning’, in whatever form that may take, what do YOU do to support their learning and increase the likelihood that the business you work for extracts maximum ROI from that investment? (Sounds dull, doesn’t it…but ultimately, whatever that measure is, it is about ROI, after all).

Here are the typical ‘sack-full’ of excuses (a wonderful phrase a dear colleague of mine once used to sum up the reality of what happens when people don’t follow through on what they should be doing):

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  • I don’t have time to do this
  • They are big enough to get on with it themselves
  • I’m not measured on this
  • I don’t know what it is that they have learnt, so how can I support?
  • I don’t have the resources to do this
  • I don’t feel confident giving feedback and coaching others
  • It’s not my priority
  • I feel threatened by the prospect of them becoming more skilled than me
  • They don’t want / need my support
  • (add your own version)

Now, let’s be clear. I am NOT discounting the reality of these excuses…they may well be real, for you. But, whatever they are, it still means that the person that ultimately is within your care as a manager, is losing out. It means that the business is not maximising its ROI. And, ultimately, you are letting yourself down. We all know that overall, your success is the product of those who work with, and for, you.

Top 10 support ideas

So, with that stark reality in mind, here are my top ten ideas to help you consider how you can (relatively easily) support those around you who need it, in the context of learning new skills:

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  1. As part of your role as a manager, ensure you are clear about the learning and development priorities of each member of your team, and agree the best solution for that, bearing in mind it may well not be a ‘formal’ training intervention.

    If it does involve ‘training’ per se:

  2. Make sure you have agreed the learning outcomes before committing to the investment of time and money.

  3. Agree the role each of you will have in ensuring success in achieving those outcomes.

  4. Check-in prior to the ‘event’ and support with preparation where required.

  5. Post event (and as part of the learning journey at each stage), check in to see how things are going and what the key outcomes were, as well as where support is required.

  6. Identify the best route to support – Is it you? Is it other ‘experts’? What other resources are there, physical and virtual?

  7. Check-in periodically to review how much is being used, and where further support is needed.

  8. Observe, feed back and coach ‘on the job’ to support day to day implementation.

  9. Where necessary, arrange ‘formal’ check-ins to support the development of the skills and behaviours, using the resources at your disposal.

  10. Review against learning outcomes set in the first instance and the appropriate moments in time.

Sounds a lot?

Well…no, not really. Each of these ‘moments’ can be brief. If you bring these kind of conversations into the everyday discussion you are having with your team, it becomes as natural as breathing.

Is it worth it? Reflect for a moment on those who are at the ‘top of their game’ (sports people are helpful to consider at this point). Anyone who is anyone in their field have their very own version of you. Their ’20 per cent’ support. Their coach, who nurtures, cajoles, supports, challenges, stretches and expects, and is an essential part of who they are and how they perform.

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If you are curious to learn more, take a look at our website to find out more about how we can support you and your team with this essential business skill.

If you have enjoyed this article, please like and share as appropriate. 

Alex Selwood

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