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Measuring Progress: What am I getting for my money?

Am I getting my money’s worth?

One key question for our seminar clients is, “Is paying for training experiences enough?”

Most often, the answer is clearly, “Yes”.  Despite all of the talk about ROI, buying an experience makes sense when we realize the benefits of training in general from an employee’s perspective. When organizations invest in training they get a lot from their employees even if they don’t change a thing based on what they learn. Employees appreciate the fact that the employer is willing to invest in their skills. They appreciate the break from the everyday. Employees value the opportunity to learn something that may help them to do their jobs better or more easily. Training is an additional benefit that can lead to higher morale.

As the 70-20-10 principle explains, formal training generally contributes to 10% of behavior changes at work. That’s it. 20% of work based behavior change comes from peer interaction and 70% from self learning. So back to the question, “What am I getting for my money?” In the best case, a training event offers a light at the end of the tunnel. It can point a way to lasting, improved skills and show participants a process for improving after the training event is done. On-sight, on-the-job training outside of the training room as well as coaching following the training event help training professionals to go beyond the training room 10%impact of most formal training.

Measuring Progress: Knowing what you want

Getting more for your money begins with knowing what you want to see after the training event is complete. Your outputs for the participants need to be verifiable and measurable. “I want them to work better together” doesn’t count. What will they do when they are working better together? The answer to that question is a good start of the process.

Is the training plan thinking based or doing based? If a training event is presentation heavy and practice light, it may lead to understanding without workplace application. Role plays, serious games and debriefing allow participants to see their needs in near workplace situations. When participants recognize their needs, they can practice and improve in the safe environment good training event should provide.

Is the trainer or the trainer’s company credible for the participants? A “who is this guy” approach by the participants will not make it easy for the trainer to give them the kinds of experiences that will lead to behavior change. Raising the credibility of the trainer will help participants to value the trainer and, most importantly, the training you are providing.

The bottom line is…

The bottom line answer to the question “What am I getting for my money?” is an experience that can serve as a catalyst for employee learning and workplace application. In combination with OTJ training and coaching you can extend the benefit of a trainer’s involvement. Ultimately, you are giving your employees another opportunity to improve themselves.

Let us know what you think about measuring progress in the comments area below.  Want to learn more about making the most of your training investment?  Download our short eBook here to read how.

3 Questions for an HRD Leader on training

As trainers, we can offer our views on what we think is a good trainer, what is important for HRD, etc. Does that match what an experienced, German HRD Dept Head thinks? What is HRD’s view on training? I recently spent a few minutes with Jürgen Birkhölzer, Department Leader for Personnel Development in the Mail division of DPDHL. Here are three basic questions on training and his answers.

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What is a good trainer?

Jürgen Birkhölzer: A good trainer has a clear idea of what his targets are and that of his students. A good trainer has the right level of empathy so that he is able to walk in the shoes of his students. This is more the behavioral side. There is also a knowledge side. I think here a good trainer should be very qualified in their area of competence and the content of their training. A good trainer has to love the situation of dealing with people and has to be a good communicator: this is not only to lecture, like lessons in a university, it’s more building  sustainable levels of communication with the student and having a deep wish to exchange knowledge with the learner- it’s not just a one way process. If we look at a trainer whose job it is to work together with his learners to improve their behavior, like leadership or communication training, the being perfect aspect is not so important. It is more important that they are able to ask the right questions, that they are able to get students to realize their own ideas and have their own insights into the environment they want to focus on. Trainers are not able to change people, they are only able to change themselves; introducing self-reflection in the learners will help them work on their behavior. Overall, the communication or leadership trainer needs to be a very good psychologist.

What do training managers want from trainers?

Jürgen Birkhölzer: That’s a good question. The answer is connected to my daily work. We want our trainers to be available 24/7 as we have to meet our customer’s needs. That sounds easy but is very complex as we have a limited workforce in our internal training team and we very often have changing requirements. On the one hand, it’s our job to try to fulfill our business’s needs and on the other to steer the capacity of our trainer staff. We decided that for our trainers have to deliver 120-140 billable trainer hours per year. This gives us a clear perspective of what our capacity is, but we have to consider that we don’t have a stable request from our customer. In November and December and during the summer, we have no requests for training so we have to ask our trainers to go on vacation. In fact, I think the most important competence of a trainer manager is to find a balance between the necessary business idea to fill the customers’ requirements on the one hand, and on the other, to have the idea of resilience in mind that the capacity of your trainers is limited.

What is the most important thing in HRD in working with line managers?

Jürgen Birkhölzer: We have to look at this question from 2 sides: a line manager in an operational role and a line manager in a strategic role. Collaborating with strategic managers is the most important and relevant job HRD has to do. HRD has to provide services, training measures, processes and instruments and the whole world of HRD to fit business needs. HRD has to frequently clarify what is a business need with strategic managers. From my point of view, this is the most important relationship for HRD; the relationship to the business unit and the business in order to understand what is going on in the business now, and even more importantly, what will happen in the future. To support the strategic initiatives of the business with fitting HRD managers is a core measurement of HRD. So is the strength of the HRD relationship to the business and also how HRD manages to be intensively involved in what’s going on strategically.

The second point is the collaboration with the line managers. It is very important that line managers understand that HRD supports their daily business, that training and coaching supports them in being successful in their role. It’s not only the question that HRD costs money, it’s a question that in collaboration with the line manager, it is HRD’s job to explain what is the value-add of HRD and that the line manager has the opportunity to experience this value-add. HRD should not just be seen as a nice-to-have and that if you have cost-cutting in the department you must stop all HRD. In fact, it should be the opposite and that line managers say the last money we save is the money for the qualification for our people. This is the second most relevant task of HRD. They can provide as much high quality training as they want, but if strategic management doesn’t understand what the support of HRD means and the line managers don’t see the value added benefits, no-one will be successful.

 

A special thanks to Jürgen for taking the time to share his perspective with us.  What do you think about what he said?  Do you agree?  Let us know in the comments area below.  Also, make sure to check out our methods and tools section to learn more about how companies are approaching their training.

CEFR Levels: A Beginner’s Guide

What is your CEFR level?

In Europe everyone talks about their language skills in terms of being somewhere between A1 and C2.

But what does this really mean? How do you really know what level you are? Does the next person have the same understanding of what that level really means? Do you even know what CEFR stands for?

In 273 pages the Council of Europe explain the whole concept and what each level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) mean.

The only problem is that I don’t actually know of anyone – language trainer, L&D professional, or client purchasing the training – who has read the whole thing. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t.

There are though a number of more succinct explanations available on the internet. And most training institutions, Target Training GmbH included, have their own documents which explain it in the way they think is most accessible to their clients.

What are the advantages of using the CEFR for business language training?

  • It is based on can-do statements which is far more useful than just having , for example, a grammatical syllabus
  • The can-do statements are largely practical
  • Provided levels are assessed correctly, and participants are not put up a level purely because they have finished a course and the training institution wants a happy client,  a certain level of standardization is offered

What are the disadvantages?

  • Put a group of experienced language trainers in the room to discuss a participant’s level. There will always be some discussion as to what the level is. One person focuses more on grammatical errors, another only listens for fluency, another for the use of interesting language, etc
  • The CEFR is of limited use when assessing corporate language training. The broad bands mean that the time needed to move up a level is too great to be assessed on anything less than a 12 month basis (100 hours to progress from an A1 to and A2, up to 400 hours to progress from a C1 to a C2)
  • Lack of relevance. The CEFR was not designed with the corporate environment in mind. The can-do statements are very general

Is what really counts being measured with CEFR?

At Target Training, we aim to improve participants’ performance at work in English in a short time.  Progress is generally shown in terms of being able to participate better in a meeting (and for someone else to notice), being able to write emails quicker and better than they could before the training, etc.   Such progress is difficult to assess using the CEFR levels.

If you don’t agree, have a look at the can-do statements in the document mentioned above and the suggested language points in the British Council /EAQUALs Core Inventory.

They are wonderful for the general English classroom, but need adapting to the world of business. And we really need to consider whether versions adapted for the business world are really the best way of assessing levels and progress. Most of us who carry out level placement tests notice that there is a clear difference in an individual’s general and business level. There isn’t a difference in the CEFR levels, and as the can-do statements are general, the level assigned will be general. This might not be accurate for the corporate environment. Let us know what you think in the comments area below. Also, check out our methods and tools that we use to ensure high quality training at the workplace.

70-20-10 model: Why we MUST apply it to Business English training

I recently outlined how the 70-20-10 model can be applied to Business English training solutions.  By applying the 70-20-10 philosophy to Business English training and integrating on-the-job and social learning alongside traditional approaches, companies can comfortably overcome the challenges they face:

  1. the challenge of urgency – training needs to deliver tangible improvements quickly
  2. the challenge of availability – taking people out of the workplace for training is becoming increasingly difficult

Put simply, time is money and the sooner your employees can perform the required tasks to an appropriate level, the greater the benefit to your company.  This means that learning has to be engaging, relevant, and above all easily transferable to the workplace.

Obviously, on-the-job learning (the 70% guideline) is as relevant and transferable as possible. Without the traditional training (the 10% guideline), the informal learning may never happen – but the key is to make this 10%  a “multiplier”.  Explicitly connecting this on-the-job and social learning to traditional approaches is essential. You should expect that traditional training becomes increasingly relevant and transferable by using the on-the-job learning as a springboard.  What have you seen on-the-job that also needs attention away from the job ?  Following the 70-20-10 philosophy means that speed of performance improvement increases due to training at and in the workplace.

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How the 70-20-10 model,when applied to Business English training, can save time and money

As we all know, time is a precious commodity in today’s workplace. Traditional training approaches mean time away from the workplace. Whether it be technical, management, IT or language training, this time away from the workplace is costly and limited.

The issue of availability is compounded even further when we look at how much time language training can eat up.  The training time and investment required to develop language skills is truly daunting.  Industry guidelines talk about 150- 200 hours to move from a CEFR B1 to B2 level. Relying solely upon a formal classroom-based approach (face to face or virtual) just takes too long. For example, if a learner has one “class” per week of 90 minutes, and they consistently take part 3 out of 4 times (an optimistic target for most busy professionals) the learner will need at least 3 years of continuous training to “move up a level”. These figures are quite rightly shocking to any manager and to their budget! Traditional formal training alone cannot be the answer. This is where the 70-20-10 model becomes invaluable.

By setting up a more holistic approach and supporting, nurturing and creating opportunities for social and on-the-job learning you can reduce both the time and investment required – while at the same time building motivation and engagement amongst the employees.  The ratios do not have to be strictly followed – rather each of the three approaches needs to be encouraged.

Next time we’ll look at some proven practical tips for integrating the  70-20-10 philosophy into your Business English programs. Let us know if you have any experience with the 70-20-10 model in the comments area below. Want to learn more about how we use the 70-20-10 model in our training? Click here.

70-20-10 Model: 5 Implementation Tips

What is the 70-20-10 model?

As we mentioned last week in our blog post, the 70-20-10 model has been around for a few years now, and reflects the increasing awareness that learning is not just about “traditional” training (whether it be a seminar, classroom, or an e-learning program). Research has shown we actually acquire most of the knowledge, skills and behaviours we need to perform our jobs through actual experience and working alongside others.

The 70-20-10 model has its origins in the work of McCall, Eichinger and Lombardo from the Centre for Creative Leadership. Their book, “The Career Architect” (1996), is based on empirical research and concluded that successful managers learned in 3 different ways:

  • 70 percent of learning comes from real life on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem solving
  • 20 percent of learning comes from feedback, working with and observing role models
  • 10 percent from “traditional” training

In our last post we talked about why you should think about implementing the 70-20-10 model.  Now, let’s take a look at how you can implement it at your company.

5 Practical tips for implementing the 70-20-10 model in your company

1.  Enable experiential learning – this is key when we consider that 70% of learning comes from “doing”. Giving employees the opportunity to learn through challenging yet achievable experiences is one the most powerful and practical tools in a manager’s toolbox.

Experiential learning can come through new roles and equally occur within existing roles. Three approaches we’ve seen clients benefit from are:

  • extending the scope of responsibility and control
  • enabling and increasing decision-making power
  • expecting staff to build new relationships (e.g. other business units, senior managers, virtual teams , suppliers, partners, clients…)

2.  Be prepared to accept a compromise between optimal efficiency and developmental opportunities.   You can expect to see specific requests upwards, where an employee is keen to get involved in a challenging project specifically to build their skills. Naturally they won’t be as effective or efficient as somebody who can already perform this role – so look at it as a learning and development initiative rather than just a question of resources.

3.  Engage with internal and external trainers and training providers early on to discuss how to connect the dots between on-the-job, social and formal learning. The goal is to identify critical skills and behaviors and then look at building and reinforcing these using all options.

4.  Coaching and mentoring – Both coaching and mentoring are great ways of integrating social learning into a traditional program. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, and both draw on a similar skill set I’d argue there are differences. For me mentoring is deliberately connecting an experienced person (the mentor) with a less experienced one (the mentee). The mentor could be a colleague, a manager, or the line manager. The mentor then tutors, shares experiences, models, counsels and offers feedback.  Coaching does not necessarily imply directly related experience, tends to be less directive, and is aimed at improving performance in specific areas.  Regardless of how you define them, both approaches have a lot to offer.

5.  When it comes to traditional training the key is early and explicit management involvement. The single most powerful step a manager can take is to clearly explain to their staff  why the training is relevant to the business and that there are clear expectations. This simple step drives motivation, participation and transfer. This transfer is crucial and I’d suggest that any traditional formal training has to integrate a transfer plan. In this simple document the employees are challenged to consider how they will actually transfer the learning into their workplace, when they’ll do this, who else needs to be involved and how will they know when they have achieved this.

The 70-20-10 model has proven to positively impact organisations in enhancing their learning and development programs. Now that you know what it is, and some tips on implementing it, let us know if you have any experience with the 70-20-10 model in the comments area below. Want to learn more on how else you can help employees retain what they learn from training? Click here for more information.

70-20-10 Model: Getting Started

What is the 70-20-10 model?

The 70-20-10 model has been around for a few years now, and reflects the increasing awareness that learning is not just about “traditional” training (whether it be a seminar, classroom, or an e-learning program). Research has shown we actually acquire most of the knowledge, skills and behaviours we need to perform our jobs through actual experience and working alongside others.

The 70-20-10 model has its origins in the work of McCall, Eichinger and Lombardo from the Centre for Creative Leadership. Their book, “The Career Architect” (1996), is based on empirical research and concluded that successful managers learned in 3 different ways:

  • 70 percent of learning comes from real life on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem solving
  • 20 percent of learning comes from feedback, working with and observing role models
  • 10 percent from “traditional” training

Initially focussing on management and leadership development, this conclusion has since been extended to other types of professional learning and development. Today the 70-20-10 model is being used by Learning & Development departments in a wide-range of multinationals operating across a broad range of businesses. (e.g. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Nike, Dell, Goldman Sachs, Maersk, L’Oréal, and Caterpillar)

Why implement the 70-20-10 model?

The model has an attractive simplicity, although the exact ratios are contended. As a trainer and manager of a training company my feeling is that the most important step is to see the model as a philosophy and not a rigid recipe.  The key is understanding and accepting that the majority of learning actually happens outside of the classroom, and that any learning and development program should take this into account and proactively support this.  It doesn’t mean that traditional training is no longer relevant in the 21st century, but rather that this traditional training is just a part of learning and development strategies.

Whether you are a learning & development specialist, a line manager, a trainer or training provider, or an employee, you should take time to reconsider and refocus your efforts. By doing this you can:

  • shift the focus and expectations towards more efficient and effective types of learning and development
  • ensure that time and money invested in learning and development makes a greater impact
  • support your business by keeping people in the workplace while they are learning

“Almost without exception, in my experience, organisations that have adopted 70-20-10 have achieved greater impact on performance at organisational and individual level at lower cost than was being achieved beforehand.” – Charles Jennings

Moving forward starts with simple conversations

Based on what we’ve seen our clients do, and what we’ve tried ourselves, here are some concrete and practical ways to begin implementing the 70-20-10 model in your organization.

The first step is to raise awareness and build commitment through simple conversations.  Everyone involved needs to be brought on board with the idea that leaning and development is not just about going on a course.  My own experience as a manager is that this is a relatively easy process in that many managers see 70-20-10 as “common sense”.

These conversations are essential as the 70-20-10 model depends on L&D working closely with line managers, and on line managers communicating with their staff. Managers need to be aware of the pivotal hands-on role they play in developing their staff, and employees need to appreciate the context for new decisions.

During these conversations it’s worth being clear that this is not a cost-cutting exercise, replacing “training” by a loose learning-by-doing approach. It’s actually a quality driven initiative, aiming to make sure that the company is developing to meet future challenges.

If, like Target Training, you’re a medium sized company, these conversations are reasonably manageable. If, like many of our clients, you’re part of a larger organization then start small. Find a business unit where managers are comfortable and confident wearing the “developing people” hat. Speaking with our clients, many of whom are multinationals, the general consensus has been that introducing the 70-20-10 model step by step has proved to be the most effective approach. By connecting with managers who have a genuine interest in developing their teams and the employees within them, the model organically spreads to other areas.

The 70-20-10 model has proven to positively impact organisations in enhancing their learning and development programs. Now that you know what it is, next week we will get into some practical tips on how to implement it in your company. Let us know if you have any experience with the 70-20-10 model in the comments area below. Want to learn more on how else you can help employees retain what they learn from training? Click here for more information.