Improving On-boarding Using 70:20:10
On-boarding and induction programs are historically fertile ground for structured learning. They have always been seen as essential elements in helping new employees become rapidly productive.
Yet even this ‘sacred cow’ of formal training is being challenged with some companies updating on-boarding processes to utilise broader approaches, including 70:20:10.
There are a number of reasons why many organisations adopting the 70:20:10 framework focus on their on-boarding process as a key priority or opportunity for improvement:
- High staff turnover during the on-boarding process
- Speed to productivity expectations not being met
- Resource intensive and classroom based programs recognised as costly and inefficient.
As one alternative to hours or days of classroom induction, some organisations are providing new recruits with tablets stuffed with helpful information and access to resources such as:
- links to expert locations on intranets
- links to repositories of stories to help new employees navigate the networks and alcoves of their new organisation or new role within their existing organisation
- colleagues and regular check ins that allow them to review progress, make sense of their new environment and remove obstacles.
This approach may not remove the need for face-to-face or structured on-boarding tasks. It does however, place the worker in their working environment sooner, giving them exposure to the tasks, the people and the resources required to perform their role.
Any revised approach to on-boarding needs to be encapsulated within a clear strategy that encourages and supports the development of a culture of continuous learning.
Concepts, Contexts and Tasks
One way of thinking about the weighting of structured training against workplace and social approaches for on-boarding is to consider what is needed to help someone get up-to-speed in their new role. This is where the 70:20:10 framework helps.
We can think of three aspects of building capability.
1. The Concepts - answers to questions such as:
- What is expected of me in this role?
- How can I go about finding the best sources of information to help me?
- What are the core organisational principles I need to apply in my work?
2. The Context – answers to questions such as:
- What processes does someone in my role need to follow?
- How do I escalate problems if I can’t fix them?
- Who do I escalate to in specific instances?
3. The Tasks – answers to questions such as:
- What are the detailed steps to assemble this device/construct this spreadsheet model/help this client?
- I have an uncommon situation – what do I do next?
The diagram above (© Charles Jennings, used with permission), adapted from the original, shows that the ‘concept’ issues can be addressed through training if needed, but most of the ‘context’ issues and all of the ‘task’ issues are better addressed through use of personal networks, mentors, and performance support at the point-of-need. The breakdown here is roughly 10:90, or 10:20:70 – in other words, the 70:20:10 can be applied even within an on-boarding construct.
The Bigger Picture: Beyond Content-Centric Learning
As we move beyond content-rich learning to exploit experience-rich learning in the workplace, we need solid models and approaches that will help, and we need tools that will help us support a culture of continuous learning. This is where many organisations are finding the 70:20:10 model useful.
If you’re exploring or implementing 70:20:10 you should consider on-boarding for its potential:
- To deliver impact and savings through improved speed to productivity, flexible delivery and improved retention,
- As an opportunity to pilot the approach to gain experience, gather data and stories, and build advocacy that will support your business case for an expanded roll out.
COME BACK AND SHARE!
Are you reviewing your on-boarding process or have you taken steps to improve the design? If so, share your journey, including the challenges you faced, the solutions you created and the impact you achieved.
 The core of this model was developed by people working in a specialist performance support company in 2006.
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