For years, the best practice in corporate learning has been summarized by the “70-20-10” rule. 70 percent of learning on the job should supposedly be experiential, but that can mean throwing a new hire or a job changer into the deep end before they are ready to swim. Instead, businesses should focus on the 20 – social learning.
The misconception is that social learning means to get a group of employees together and let them work through a set of tasks, or a similar exercise. Social learning actually has to do with everyone in the organization, from management down.
The benefit, beside a more effective learning strategy, is the construction of a more cohesive corporate culture.
What leaders can do
The role of the leader in corporate learning should go far beyond checking off what training an employee accomplished when review time comes around.
To start, your leaders might be your most effective trainers. After all, most of them have “been there, done that”. Build some time into their schedules so they cannot just pass out mandates, but actually enact them with their group. Not only do the employees get to connect on a deeper level with their boss, but also the boss has a chance to reflect on what they’ve learned over the years, what has changed, and where they still need to grow.
Job performance is a process; your learning should reflect that
Too often, job descriptions are merely a list of core competencies. If an employee does not meet one of those competencies, or needs to improve, they are sent for training. How effective is that in the daily performance of their role?
No matter how much we would like to think it’s not true, any job is made up of a set of routines. Your curricula should reflect that reality. The social aspect comes when you need to find out what routines should be learned. Get a focus group together, or empower the employees to teach their peers.
Redefine in-person learning
Along the same lines, when it does come time to have some face-to-face training, that curriculum needs to reflect the application of the skills, not just the skills in general. Think about it this way: how much training have you attended where the trainer and his or her students muddle through a workbook for most of the time? Then, toward the end of the class’s time together, the trainer opens the floor for questions and they are flooded with questions about how to actually apply what they had just learned in their daily job.
That’s putting the cart before the horse. Again, focus on the processes, not the individual items.