In the past, we've discussed a lot of different ways in which training professionals and company managers can deal with their workplace training and employee development. Recently Vado released a whitepaper called 70:20:10 Guide: Providing Structure to the 70%, which is a great resource and introduction to the 70:20:10 method, so we thought it would be a great learning approach to focus on, and see how you can apply it to your workplace training.

What is 70:20:10?


The 70:20:10 model for learning development first came about due to research carried out at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), and was created in the 1980s by three researchers and authors, Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger.

The model suggests that people will learn best if their learning is supplied using a more blended approach rather than sticking with just one learning method.

  • 70% of what a person learns is through doing tasks and exercises which improve their skills and development.
  • 20% of what they learn is through talking to and interacting with other people around them.
  • 10% of what they learn is through more traditional and formal learning, such as training courses.

While the numbers have been given as part of the approach, it's important to remember they are just a guide, and may be a little off when this is actually put into practise. The main thing to focus on is the fact that this approach thinks it's a good idea to use a number of different ways of learning, with the majority of the learning being done through hands on experience.


Cutting paper

The biggest chunk of the 70:20:10 learning model is the 70%, which sees people learning through on-the-job training and actually having a go at doing things themselves.

Think about any time you've started a new job, when most of your first few weeks are spent receiving training on how the company works, what tasks you are expected to do, and specific training on things like company computer systems or specific technology. Chances are you spent a lot of time getting told about certain tasks you'd be doing, and getting shown the correct way to do them, but you probably didn't actually spend a lot of time getting a go of what you were being taught. Initial training can be done this way for a number for reasons. Whether it's because there are a lot of people who need trained at once, whether you're not trusted to jump right in on your first day and have a shot, or simply whether your trainer only has a limited amount of time, and it's just easier for them to show you how to do something rather than spend additional time coaching you through the experience.

Whatever the reason, this approach can sometimes be problematic. Obviously there are some situations where you need extensive training before you get to have a go of something yourself, but in a lot of work environments there's no reason why people can't just jump in and start practising the sort of tasks they'll being doing on an everyday basis. If your staff feel you don't trust them to start getting on with the work, or don't respond well to being taught at for long periods of time, they may start to find their job boring, or wonder if it was the right move for them to start working with you.

Letting your staff just have a shot of things and get on with their work can be a great way to really lets them get to grips with the skills they need to develop, as there's no better way to learn than just doing something. It also lets them see what their job is really going to be like, as they get actual experience of the work, and means they can accurately judge if they enjoy the job and the work.

If you feel starting them on proper work right away may not be the best course of action, then perhaps try giving them practise tasks instead. This will mean they can get a feel for the work they will be doing, but they won't be doing any 'live' work, so mistakes are easily fixed. This will still give them the hands on experience, but means you won't have to worry about them doing something like publishing an article on your website which contain incorrect information for example. This way when they move on to doing the real work, they will have been working on the skills they need, and should be fully up to speed.


Staff talking

While sitting down and just getting on with things is a great way to get fully emerged in your new job and start developing your skills, it's also important that staff talk to and interact with other people in the workplace. Talking to those around them will give your staff the chance to draw on people who have more experience than themselves and get a better idea of how things should be done.

There's a number of different ways staff can learn from engaging with the people around them:

  • Watching them work to see how they do things.
  • Knowing who in the company to approach if they have a question, so they get the best answer.
  • Chatting with other staff members, whether it's about a particular piece of work or at lunchtime, will give them the chance to pick up information and tips from them they didn't know before.
  • Networking with other like-minded people, or people in the same industry.
  • Getting one-on-one coaching from other staff members.

While you may be keen to make sure your staff are getting as much training as possible, it's also important to make sure they have the chances listed above to interact with their colleagues so they can learn that way too. Providing new staff with a dedicated coach or mentor may be a great way to make sure that they have someone to turn to for help. Failing that, just encouraging new staff to ask questions, and making sure the current staff are approachable will help create an environment where people aren't afraid to ask for help and share their knowledge.

Also doing things like sending new staff to events and conferences will give them the chance to meet people outside your company and learn how they do things, so they can use that knowledge in their own work.


Students writing

The final chunk of the 70-20-10 approach is the more traditional form of learning, using things like training sessions to help your employees learn and develop. This model stresses the fact that this kind of formal learning is still very important, but it does not create a completely rounded learning experience.

Providing your staff with the training they need is essential, but don't rely on it entirely. You have to make sure you are providing them with other outlets to develop both themselves and their careers.


As we mentioned above, you don't need to stick to these numbers rigidly, but it's clear that this model believes the biggest chunk of learning should involve letting your staff do things, with smaller but just as essential chunks dedicated to learning from other and receiving formal training.

While it's always important to find a training method that works for you and your staff, the 70:20:10 one may be one you want to adopt if you feel your staff would benefit from a more blended learning approach rather than just attending lots of training sessions.