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 primary way development happens: through on-the-job experiences and challenges. But most organizations aren’t 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 lack a cohesive plan.

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

Take a Closer Look at Experience-Driven Development

Millennials, in particular, desire the opportunity to learn from on-the-job experiences.

Challenging assignments—also called stretch assignments—are at the heart of experience-driven development, and help to attract and retain talent. Such assignments put individuals in new or uncertain situations where they have to take action, see direct 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

Learning and development is often walled off from—or only loosely tied to—the larger talent management system.

Instead, experience should be at the center of it all. Experience-driven talent management involves three components.

1. A talent strategy articulates decisions guiding 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 essential 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’re the essential activities talent management carries out in service of the larger talent strategy: setting success profiles; recruiting, hiring, and onboarding; learning and development; performance management; rewards and recognition; staffing and succession management; employee engagement, and so on.

These are things you’re probably already doing in some fashion, but they look different through an experience-driven development lens.

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.

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

While this has historically been an HR role, talent management is quickly becoming a priority among senior leaders and managers who know they need the right pool of people involved—in the present and the future.

Everyone has a part to play in leveraging on-the-job learning, including the board of directors and individual employees. But human resources, training & development, and 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.

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 aren’t initiatives—they’re 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.

Dig deeper by reading our full white paper, Putting Experience at the Center of Talent Management.

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