Whenever I ask a group of people to identify the learning experiences that accelerated their career, people never identify a training course or any university class as their ‘career accelerator’. It is always an exposure to different companies, functions, cultures or a challenging assignment that had the most impact on peoples careers.
This strengthens my aversion to formal classroom training! I personally believe that in a majority of cases they are a waste of company money and effort. I have been saying this now for many years and slowly a body of formal evidence is popping up that confirms my personal experience, specifically on leadership and competency development.
The Center of Creative Leadership has now found that about 70% of organizational learning takes place on the job, through problem solving and through challenging assignments and other day-to-day activities. Another 20% occurs through drawing on the knowledge of others in the workplace; from informal learning to coaching and mentoring, and from support and direction from managers and colleagues. Only 10% occurs through formal learning, such as the classroom, a workshop or, more recently, e-learning. This insight is slowly becoming the 70-20-10 rule for organizational learning.
The interesting part of course is that most organizations invest at least 80%of their training budgets in formal learning, where little of the learning takes place. Having been there and done that I know why this is happening. It is because it is the easiest way out. It is very easy to ‘outsource’ the responsibility of developing your subordinates to a trainer and blame the ineffectiveness of the training, or the training department, if there is no tangible performance improvement.
So what are more effective sources of leadership learning? The Center of Creative Leadership studies have found that a number of universally important sources of leadership learning stand out from studies different countries across the world:
- Bosses and superiors
- Increases in job scope
- Horizontal moves
- New initiatives
- And specifically for South Asia: personal experiences and crossing cultures
So instead of a training course this year for your subordinate, think about how you can create a learning experience that has impact and lasts. Think about how you can help and how you can give your team member a hand’s on learning experience.
– Paul Keijzer