L&D Success with the 70-20-10 Model

Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig
Jul 03 2023
4 min read
L&D Success with the 70-20-10 Model

L&D success – how do you get there? With so many training options to choose from, it can be tough for HR to design programs that have the most effective combination of learning, experiences, and advising. One of the most popular methods is the 70-20-10 Rule, which allows you to balance initiatives in a way that produces the best results. 

Finding the Ultimate L&D Mix

The 70-20-10 model was created by Morgan McCall, Robert Eichinger, and Michael Lombardo based on their study as described in The Career Architect Development Planner. They recommend that learning and development programs be designed around a specific ratio with regards to hours of learning:

  • 70% in experiences
  • 20% in social situations
  • 10% in structured learning arrangements

Experiential Learning

Based on the concept of “learning by doing”, experiential learning involves regular tasks and self-education. 

The most common form of experiential learning is essentially daily work. Particularly for new employees, it can take time to acclimatize to a new role. As the employee does more of the same task, their performance naturally tends to improve. In this sense, workers acquire most of their abilities through informal and autodidactic methods. 

But L&D can also play its part. There are numerous ways that allow an employee to experience a variety of workplace situations. These initiatives can be a way to prepare them to take on a new role or improve their engagement level though a job enrichment program. These options include:

Such assignments allow the employee to develop the skills that are specifically needed in each situation. But more importantly, dealing with the unfamiliar expands all sorts of valuable workplace soft skills, such as:

  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Communication
  • Independence

And, if you’re a fan of the Growth Mindset, experiential learning also gives employees an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and not be afraid to make them in the first place.  

Social Learning

Like experiential learning, social learning can occur in both formal and informal settings.

In addition to simply getting used to a task, employees can get the hang of things by watching others. Even for soft skills, it’s possible to observe a skilled worker in action and model behavior after them. 

Informal social learning also includes the little tips and tricks that employees share every day. Many things cannot be fully understood through a course or during onboarding. The offhand helpful comment or short instruction session are critical for filling in the gaps. 

On a more official level, HR can use other social learning modes to impart skills:

  • Mentors are teachers who have both instructional ability and a high level of skill in specific professional areas. A mentoring program might use an internal or external expert. In both cases, a mentor works closely with the employee and advises them for whatever area of workplace challenges the employee needs to master. 
  • Coaches, on the other hand, don’t bring job-specific knowledge to an engagement. Instead, they are experts in guiding employees towards realizing solutions to challenges. There are various coaching methods, and they are often based on the coach observing and asking revealing questions about an employee’s behavior. Because the coach doesn’t know much about the technicalities of an employee’s job, they can provide unbiased directions.  

Structured Learning

This form of workplace instruction is the closest to traditional schooling. Some structured learning courses involve a room, a teacher, course material, and testing.

But it’s just as likely for this type of learning to take on a more modern form. Setups for structured learning also include:

  • Micro-lessons
  • Gamification
  • Online, self-paced courses
  • Individual and group remote instruction 

As hinted at by the other forms of L&D, structured learning programs tend to teach employees the “big picture” of a subject. For example, a worker in a leadership skills program will become familiar with important leadership concepts. They might even have some practice runs that involve role-playing or temporary leadership assignments. 

But the true test of their newfound abilities will occur as they perform their official tasks. In a sense, structured learning gets employees part of the way towards L&D success, yet it is skill application in the real world that demonstrates expertise. For this reason, structured learning gets the smallest amount of allotted training time. 

A Successful Skill-Building Duet: You and Growthspace 

For many aspects of the 70-20-10 Model, Growthspace provides essential support. As an L&D platform, Growthspace enables you to find top coaches and trainers for basically any professional field. If it’s mentors that you need, the Growthspace database will put you in touch with external experts from around the world. 

But even for workplace experiences, Growthspace is a valuable tool. Chances are that employees discover that they lack certain skills whenever they try something new. Even for very specific upskilling areas, Growthspace will locate top training professionals who make learning experiences truly effective.   

Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig is an organizational development strategist at Growthspace. With an MSc in Industrial Organizational Psychology and experience in Talent and Organizational Development roles in various organizations, Eric leverages his subject matter expertise to share knowledge and best practices, build guides and materials, develop & execute new and impactful programs and products, and help enable both Growthspace and their customers in achieving their strategic initiatives. Eric is a husband, a father, an amateur musician, an avid hockey fan (Lets Go Rangers!) and a functional cereal addict

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