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Consider different development activities

The 70:20:10 principle

Employees need a balance of practice and theory in order to develop new knowledge skills and behaviour. The majority of development - 70 per cent - should be about experience. This is learning by doing, experimenting, making mistakes, trying different approaches and talking about the experience. 20 per cent of development should occur through peer or one-on-one interactions, and formal courses, such as classroom style learning, should be the least prevalent - 10 per cent.

Below are examples of different types of development activities:

1. Experiential development (70)

  • Higher duties / job swaps / rotation: performing for a set period of time a leadership or higher duties role within the organisation (often in a different area or division).
  • Secondments: performing for a set period of time a leadership or higher duties role in a different organisation.
  • Special work projects: participating in a project team for a set period, to work on a project that is outside, or at a higher level, from the employee’s regular work.
  • Scenario and simulation activities: playing a role within a facilitated role-play or hypothetical discussion exercise based on real life situations or examples.
  • Shadowing: accompanying and observing for a set period, a person (e.g. leader, technical expert) in a different role (whether within the organisation or in a different organisation) as they undertake their daily tasks.
  • Active experimentation and reflective journaling: maintaining a regular record of specific work tasks and challenges, reviewing the strategies that have been tried in addressing these challenges, the impact and effectiveness of these different strategies, things that the employee would try differently next time, and reflections about the emotional aspects of the challenges and response strategies.

2. Peer and relational development (20)

  • Coaching: having a subject-matter expert work with the employee on a one-on-one basis for a set period to help develop, apply and refine a particular skill or behaviour.
  • Mentoring / critical friend: having someone who has working knowledge of the challenges of a particular role act as a ‘sounding board’ for the person as they deal with a range of challenges.
  • Learning circles: a group of staff, often working in different areas, who meet on a regular basis to discuss and collaboratively find solutions to the challenges of their type of role. The topics of focus and the solutions discussed come wholly from within the group. Every member of the group equally shares the responsibility for ensuring the discussions are of value.
  • Professional communities of practice / networks: a group of people, often working in the same field, come together on a regular basis to share information about topics of common interest. Unlike a learning circle, communities of practice and networks will often have formal roles (such as Chair and Secretary), will conduct activities in line with a program or agenda determined ahead of time, and often have guest speakers.
  • Developing others: taking on a role as coach or mentor to someone else. The act of helping others develop their skills provides an opportunity for the coach or mentor to consolidate their own skills and knowledge and to develop a range of people skills (such as effective communication).

3. Curriculum-based development programs (10)

  • Workshops: a series of activities (often including lectures/presentations, discussions and, possibly, role playing exercise) delivered by a subject expert to a group of people in line with a set or standard curriculum. Participants often have limited opportunity to influence the content and design of the workshop. Participation is often acknowledged by certificate.
  • Courses: a combination of development activities – often including workshops, set reading and written assignments – delivered by subject-matter experts to a group of people over a long period in line with a set or standard curriculum. Participants often have limited opportunity to influence the content and design of the course. Demonstration of learning, based upon successful completion of assignments, is often acknowledged by a formal qualification.
  • Conferences: a series of presentations or small workshops delivered by different subject-matter experts over one or two days. Typically, each individual session or workshop is prepared by the presenter in isolation from other aspects of the program, but is brought together by conference organizers around particular themes. The audience has little or no opportunity to influence the way the conference is conducted.

4. More information

Talking Performance, State Government of Victoria State Services Authority 2010, Talk performance guide, page 90-92.