These questions were all raised on a recent joint webinar with Charles – feel free to listen to the recording.
Q: How do you get the buy-in from business managers to make full use of workplace activities?
A: Managers can have far greater impact on employee performance than HR or L&D. They do this through encouraging workplace learning and development. Managers who are good at developing their teams set stretch goals, give effective feedback, provide opportunities for practice and reflection, and are clear about what they expect and how they will measure success. You get buy-in from senior managers by making this clear. There’s plenty of evidence to support it, but gathering evidence in your own organisations is a very good way. Set up a study to examine how people perform when their managers are focused and effective on developing their teams. Compare these people with those who are working for managers who are not bothered about development. Compare the results – it’s highly likely that the former will be outperforming the latter. Tell your senior managers.
Q: I work in an organisation where most staff do not have access to a PC. Do you have any recommendations with regards to the use of smartphones or tablets?
A: Most of your people will have their own smartphone. There are some good apps for capturing and sharing experiences, especially through supporting teamwork. I’ve been working over the past few months with a performance support company that has such an app http://www.tulser.com/nl-nl/66/339/tesult.aspx
Q: Is there any collateral on how to integrate learning into workflow activities?
A: There is lots of advice for individual activities integrating learning into work – from standard Action Learning approaches, to work narration, micro-blogging, storytelling etc. I’ve been working on a book with co-authors that provides advice and guidance – called ‘110 Percent Performance: 702010 and Beyond’ – keep an eye out for it. We expect it to be published in the middle of this year.
Q: If you feel that the competency of staff is not at the right level or follows the right behaviours, is it not dangerous to put staff development in the hands of non-specialist people? i.e. the blind leading the blind in learning?
A: It’s not a case of either/or. L&D professionals simply cannot provide effective development without the involvement of managers. There’s research going back 30 years that prove this (for instance, see Mary Broard’s ‘Transfer of Training’ work). However managers are often better placed to assist the development of their teams than L&D ever will be. Of course if you’re focusing on the ‘10’ then L&D pedagogical expertise will be important, but once you move into the ‘20’ and ‘70’ – social and experiential learning efforts – then the specialists are just as likely to be the managers as the L&D department.
Q: What skills/capabilities do we need to build up in the Learning/HR Function to support embedding learning in work?
A: Some existing skills/capabilities need to be strengthened – such as performance analysis, and business impact and solution impact/measurement. There are some new skills required – particularly in the ‘20’ and ‘70’ areas – such as community management and curation, capabilities to enable and support workplace of performance improvement – through performance support and learning at the point-of-need. In the new book ‘110 Percent Performance: 702010 and beyond’, my co-authors and I have defined new roles such as ‘game changer’ – which has elements of programme management and OD – and ‘performance architect – which is a solutions-focused high-level role that assembles stakeholder issues and challenges and architects solutions (some may be formal training, others may be on-the-job development activities).
Q: Is the use of checklists a tool for embedding learning? If not what are the tools, and where can I find some guidance?
A: Checklists are one form of performance support. Well-designed checklists can remove some of the need for formal away-from-work training, particularly at task level. Checklists constitute one way to embed learning in the workflow, but there are many other ways. There is not a simple list. The tools that work for your organisation may not work for others. I would recommend referring to books such as Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson’s ‘Innovative Performance Support’, Marcia Conner’s ‘New Social Learning’, Jane Hart’s ‘Social Learning Handbook’ and Mike Lombardo and Bob Eichinger’s ‘Career Architect Development Planner’ for ideas.
Q: In a busy work environment how can you carve out/make time for reflection? What is the first step?
A: You can’t afford the time NOT to carry out reflection. It is extremely important in the development process and in building high performance. Can you imagine a top sportswoman or man coming off the court/pitch and not taking a few minutes out to reflect what went well and what didn’t? Micro-blogging is one very good way to ensure you carve out time for reflection. Set up a team space and encourage every team member to spend 2 minutes reflecting on what they’ve done or learned at the end of each day. Ask them to list their ongoing challenges and their successes. In a short while you’ll probably see that it has become a habit for them.
Q: You talked about different splits (i.e. 40:40:20, or 70:20:10) depending on the type of business. Where did this research take place and are there other examples?
A: The 70:20:10 ‘numbers’ came from a small study with a cohort of managers at the Center for Creative Leadership. There is an extensive body of work that indicates most learning occurs as part of the workflow. I’d suggest you read this article by Jay Cross for a summary of some http://www.informl.com/where-did-the-80-come-from/
You will also find several articles on my blog about this topic:
Q: Can you please give examples of what a checklist would contain in the context of embedding the learning?
A: Checklists enhance, reinforce or replace learning that has taken place earlier. In the context of embedding learning, for example, it is ineffective to try to teach specific skills to ‘task’ level outside of the context where the skills are to be used. In other words, it is best to learn tasks in the context of the ‘real world’ (which is why aircraft simulators are so important for developing pilots’ skills – they provide as-near-as-possible realistic conditions in which to practice). Checklists provide support at the ‘moment-of-need’. If you use checklists often, then the learning will be developed ‘embedded in the task’.
Here’s an example http://kmisalive.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/WHO-Checklist1.jpg
And some others: http://www.commissioningcoach.com/downloads/commissioning-checklist-procedure-preview/
Q: You say that ‘embracing the ’90’ will shift ownership of learning to the learner’ – How do the mature companies support this?
A: Many multinational and mature organisations have made this shift, or are making it, successfully. The key here is culture change. This shift only happens if the culture of the organisation adapts to support self-directed learning and there’s a mindset change in every individual to grasp that we own our development (although we may expect our employer to support it).
Q: How do you measure in-business learning?
A: The same way you should measure away-from-business learning – by the impact it has on the performance of the individual, team or organisation. Studies have shown, for example, that managers who are effective at supporting workplace learning have teams that outperform others by up to 27%.
Q: How can we educate line managers on their role in promoting 70:20:10?
A: Tell them that they’ll get an extra day a week’s work from their teams if they build their own capability to become effective and focused on developing their teams. Also change mindsets to ensure managers understand that developing their teams is probably the most important job they have every day. If they want high performing teams they need to encourage, support and enable workplace and social learning (the ‘70’ and the ‘20’) as well as the ‘10’.
Q: Are checklists simply an appraisal online?
A: No. Checklists are a simple form of performance support. They are used in the process of carrying out tasks. Appraisals – formative or summative – are tools to assess performance.
Q: What are some key activities that people can participate in during work to promote learning?
A: There are almost as many as you can imagine. Here are a few:
1. Using problem solving as a learning technique
2. Using special assignments for development
3. Individual reflection
4. Job swaps and shadowing for development
5. Using team project de-briefs as a learning tool
6. Mentoring and reverse mentoring
7. Coaching and encouraging informal feedback
8. Building and exploiting internal and external networks
9. Using team meetings for reflection and learning
10. Exploiting professional associations as a development resource
11. Using action learning
About Charles Jennings
Charles Jennings has worked in the areas of learning, performance and change for more than 35 years. He has practical hands-on experience in supporting learning and performance in government, third sector and corporate organisations. His career includes roles as head of the UK national centre for networked learning, as a business school professor, in senior business roles for global companies. He now works as a consultant with organisations across the world. He also sits on steering groups and advisory boards for national and international learning, performance and business bodies. Charles is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts (FRSA) and a Fellow of the British Institute for Learning & Development (FBILD).
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