How often have you heard (or cited) the 70-20-10 framework for how people learn?

It’s based on a CCL study and reflects the relative impact of 3 types of experiences on executive development.

The “70%” reflects the No. 1 way development happens: through on-the-job experiences and challenges.

But most organizations are not maximizing on-the-job opportunities that prepare leaders, develop employees, and advance business goals.

Many HR and business leaders think they could do more, but often lack a cohesive plan.

CCL’s Joan Gurvis, Cindy McCauley, and Milynn Swofford recently combined their work in talent management with the research on experience-driven development to map out recommendations for HR leaders looking to be more strategic about the 70%.

Here are some ideas for how to put experience-driven development at the center of talent management, which are detailed in a new white paper.

Take a Closer Look at Experience-driven Development

You know experience is the No. 1 way people learn, but did you know that on-the-job learning has a positive impact on employee performance?

Or that offering valued learning experiences is critical to attracting and retaining talent, especially millennials?

Challenging assignments—also called stretch assignments—are at the heart of experience-driven development.

Such assignments put individuals in new or uncertain situations where they have to take action, see the outcomes, and refine their approach to be more successful.

Over time, these cycles of action and adjustment build new skill sets and deeper expertise.

Challenging assignments typically have one or more of these elements: facing unfamiliar or broader responsibilities, creating change, influencing across organizational boundaries, and working with diverse sets of people.

Embed Experience-driven Development in Your Talent Management Efforts

Often learning and development is walled off from or only loosely tied to the larger talent management system.

Instead, experience—carefully designed and executed—should be at the center of it all. Experience-Driven Talent Management involves three things:

1. A talent strategy articulates decisions that guide how the organization will attract, develop, and retain the talent needed to achieve its business strategy.

The talent strategy begins with a clear understanding of the business strategy and provides guidance for the critical investments an organization will or will not make in people.

At a high level, it identifies the critical positions or key players that are critical for the business strategy to be successful and important capabilities to be developed.

A talent strategy may set the direction for a high-priority need alone, or it may include the direction for the development of employees overall.

For example, a professional services firm with an ambitious growth plan may have a talent strategy based on recruiting seasoned experts: “Seek out the most knowledgeable individuals in our field with a strong track record of success in our industry or a related one, and provide them with the opportunity to innovate, learn, and grow.”

2. Talent processes are the formal programs and structures organizations use to be intentional and systematic about attracting, developing, and retaining talent.

They are the essential activities that talent management carries out in service of the larger talent strategy: setting success profiles; recruiting, hiring, onboarding; learning and development; performance management; rewards and recognition; staffing and succession management; employee engagement and so on.

These are things you are probably already doing in some fashion—but will look different if you take the experience-driven development view.

For example, you may add learning agility as a core competency when selecting and evaluating employees.

In hiring, you may put more weight on certain experiences (global travel or start-up, for instance), especially those that are needed but not strongly reflected in the current talent pool.

To develop high-potential managers, you may identify the set of experiences they should have as they move up in the organization and reach key positions.

3. Talent roles address the people throughout the organization who impact talent attraction, development, and retention in very different—and all important—ways.

While this has historically been an HR role, talent management is quickly becoming a priority among senior leaders and managers who know they are dependent on having the right pool of people involved in the work, now and in the future.

And individuals throughout organizations are seeing they have the primary role in their own learning and career growth.

Everyone has a part to play in leveraging on-the- job learning, including the board of directors and each employee.

Senior leaders, including the CEO, set expectations and can promote experience-driven development throughout the organization.

Line managers and people managers should make employee development a core part of their job and work with HR leaders to ensure appropriate development opportunities are available for employees.

And, human resources, training and development, or organizational development leaders are the catalysts.

You design and facilitate experience-driven talent management processes that support business strategy and engage employees.

You educate others about their role in talent management and help them take on these roles. You monitor the effectiveness of the talent management system overall.

Evolve the Mindset

Putting experience-driven learning at the center of talent management takes a shift in mindset and culture, along with changes in strategy, process, and roles.

If all elements of the talent system are going to enable and support learning from experience, people need to see learning everywhere.

With this mindset, working and learning are no longer separated but bound together.

People are learning every day, all the time!

When learning from experience is embedded in the culture, the gap between doing the work and developing the people shrinks. Learning isn’t added on.

Coaching and mentoring and aligning talent are not initiatives—they are the way people work. Learning agility is a valued competency, and it’s a normal part of the conversation.

The work of talent management, then, is to help individuals notice what should and could be learned from experience and to find ways to help the organization capitalize on that learning potential.

What is your view of experience-driven development? What is working well? What are your challenges?

Our white paper, Putting Experience at the Center of Talent Management, takes a more in-depth look at the points here.

You may also want to look at the Experience-Driven Development website—a community of HR and talent leaders and resources on the topic—or contact Joan Gurvis to talk about how CCL can help you with your talent management efforts.

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