The 70:20:10 Model for Performance Improvement


Read the ’70:20:10 Framework Explained’ which is a publication by Charles Jennings, a global expert on 70:20:10 model and founder of the 70:20:10 Forum, to understand the strategic implementation of this model.

Conventional views on learning dictate that it is more formal training and reading-based than experiential. However, the 70:20:10 model challenges this stand. It claims that the learning and development of an employee is 70% experience-based, 20% social learning-oriented, and only about 10% is dependent on formal training sessions and books. A modern-day training executive may directly put an individual in a new role by following the rule instead of rigorously training him before putting him in a position that demands expertise in the field. Many HR practitioners believe that the regular way of training an employee and measuring its effectiveness will have better results. While traditional human resource personnel may feel that the employee may not be ready to be entrusted with such a responsibility, a modern 70:20:10 model practitioner will argue that it will motivate an employee to work harder, learn through self and others’ experiences, and simultaneous training. This will also give him an opportunity to take up tasks that warrant higher responsibility and create a favorable impression in front of the senior management.

About the 70:20:10 Model”Real learning is not what most of us grew up thinking it was.” ― Charles Handy

Many world-class global brands have adopted this model. This is because it does not confine the ambit of learning to educational institutions. It divides the learning and development of an employee in the ratio of 70:20:10. This framework is a learning and development model which is based on ongoing research and observation. It is based on the research initiated by Morgan McCall and his colleagues at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), located in North Carolina.

In 1996, two of Morgan’s colleagues Robert Eichinger and Michael Lombardo compiled and published the informative book The Career Architect Development Planner based on their observations in one of the CCL studies. The book largely elaborates the experiences of successful and high-performing managers. Around 70% lessons learned by them are attributed to hands-on training which occurs while an employee is doing a task, 20% learning is attributed to social learning from mentors, colleagues, team leaders, boss, etc., and 10% to structured training sessions hosted by the organization.

70%: Workplace Learning

While classroom training has several benefits, it also comes with its own share of disadvantages. One of the main problems of this type of training is that many times there is a disparity between the curriculum and job requirement. What is taught may not be directly applicable to a real-life work problem. Adapting the approach for improvement and innovation at work may not be practical. Apart from this, the trainer may not be able to solve the doubts of all individuals in a classroom setup due to limited amount of time and resources. Also, such trainings are more knowledge-based, rather than being result-oriented. On the other hand, on-the-job training proves to be very beneficial for the employee as he will take the task at hand as a challenge and try to complete it on his own. He will have to explore the solutions to the problems, and in this process, he will learn much more than what a trainer would have imparted to him. Over time, the employee will gain practical knowledge and become an expert in the field. This will not only help in the training and development of the employee, but it will motivate him to do better.

20%: Informal Learning

According to this section of the model, an employee will get better learning and development through his social interactions and observation of his peers, boss, colleagues, competitors, etc. If an employee finds a good coach or mentor, he will be able to pick up the processes, methods, ethics, policies, culture, etc., easily. Not only this, but he will also seek feedback from his mentor in order to incorporate improvement. This informal social learning will also stem out of collaborative activities. For example, if an employee is made a part of a cross-functional team, he will be able to learn about the activities of other departments of the organization as well. Similarly, making employees work in groups will enhance team spirit, cooperation, and knowledge sharing. Employees must be encouraged and given opportunities to network with others in the organization, especially the decision-makers and top management. This will help them to learn from the successes and mistakes of others.

10%: Formal Learning

Only 10% of learning should be sourced from traditional classroom training. Structured courses and programs help in the learning and development function and help the employee gain knowledge about a task. This is an essential step especially in change management, where the employees may have to be retrained, or a new product may require specialized training. Often, the reporting authorities observe an area where an individual needs training to enhance his performance. They then recommend the person for a training workshop which involves courses and reading. Today, a combination of virtual and actual training provided by expert faculties helps employees to understand the new task at hand in a better way. At times, the trainer takes specific efforts to understand the individual performance-related problems and provide solutions for the same. However, there is no general solution that can be applicable for a group of people who require guidance for improving performance. However, the individuals should apply the gained knowledge in their work practice in order to enhance their performance.

Applicability✦ This model helps in increasing efficiency and productivity.

✦ It aids in enhancing performance and leadership development.

✦ It especially helps in change management and employee engagement.

✦ Apart from this, it also provides opportunities to the employee to take up new challenges and responsibilities.

There are certain people who do not believe in the application of this model. However, this model has been adopted by many leading organizations throughout the globe. As 70:20:10 global expert Charles Jennings has rightly put it, this model is not about a fixed ratio at all. The model guides the learning and development personnel to focus their efforts and align their resources in the right area where the actual learning takes place, i.e., in the workplace. People tend to learn more by actually undertaking the tasks and observing the successes and failures of others rather than by acquiring structured training about the same. Hence, implement this model of development in your organization for optimizing the learning initiatives and for creating a high performance culture.