how professionals learn for work

Jane Hart has been asking her readers what are the most useful/valuable ways that they learn for or at work. In the sixth annual Learning in the Workplace Survey, which surveyed over 5,000 respondents from a wide variety of industries and types & sizes of organizations, the following methods were ranked in order.

  1. Daily work experiences
  2. Knowledge-sharing within your team
  3. Web search
  4. Web resources
  5. Manager feedback & guidance
  6. Professional networks  & communities
  7. Coach or mentor feedback & guidance
  8. Internal resources
  9. Blogs & news feeds
  10. E-learning courses
  11. Conferences & professional events
  12. Classroom training

It is interesting to note that most people value learning that is directly connected to their workflow. I have taken these responses and mapped them to the 70:20:10 principle which is a rule of thumb that about 70% of learning for work comes through experience, ~20% from exposure or guidance, and ~10% through formal training or education. I find it a very useful model. While all three are important, we spend more time doing work than in training. The only organization that can afford to spend more time on training than work is the peacetime military, and much of this training is not formal individual instruction. For further reading, Charles Jennings provides a more detailed explanation of the reality of 70:20:10.

On the image below the methods are colour-coded to Experience (70%), Exposure (20%), and Education (10%). The size of text indicates the importance as ranked by the survey respondents. Note that some of these methods cross boundaries, such as team knowledge sharing & conferences.

The results of this survey provide one more example that the 70:20:10 principle reflects the reality of many workplaces. Organizations should develop ways to support all of these methods and not leave them to chance. My social learning workshop provides one approach for improving the workplace performance spectrum, and the 70:20:10 Institute offers several programmes.

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