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3 Steps to Owning Your Development – Part I

Raise your hand if you have ever been asked (or maybe been given) an Individual Development Plan (IDP) at work?  Keep them raised if you have never fully executed an IDP?  Yeah – me too.  I love the idea of them.  I mean, I am a talent development professional after all.  In my experience, I have never seen the traditional IDP work for anyone and for a variety of reasons. 

Usually development plans are annual (one plan for an entire year) and very checklist oriented.  Something like this:

In 2020, complete the following:

Take class “ABC” or take a class on topic ABC

Meet with person X

and if you are lucky, maybe even a Lead Project Y.

At the end of the year, did you actually learn anything?  Did you even get to complete it?  Budget realities and time commitments are real challenges.  And unfortunately, unless you are one of the lucky ones who get to consult directly with a talent development professional on your IDP, there is a good chance that your goals are not going to give you the most meaningful result you need to make a real impact.

The good news is that talent development strategies and resources are modernizing rapidly, so we can ditch the traditional IDP and get to work in a way that give you results.

The great news is that only one person owns your development and that is YOU!  No one else, not even your supervisor, owns your development.  No matter your budget, time constraints, or goals – you can find a way to move forward today. 

First  – it is important that you understand how you learn and grow

Adults learn best when we try new concepts out in real life.  We get new ideas, learn about new models or approaches, and hear about best practices.  Then we test it out and process how it is going, usually by talking with a friend, mentor or coach.  That, in a nutshell, is adult learning.  I’m sure you can think of something in your everyday life where this is the approach you take. 

For example, when I want to try out a new recipe, I head over to Pinterest to find one and read all the “how-to” details.  Then I get to work in the kitchen, and there is almost always a moment where I text or call my Mom as I’m doing something because she is the best cook I know and can give me some advice.

In the world of talent development, we call this the 70-20-10 model.  It’s been around quite a while.  You often see it depicted something like this:

As simple and straight forward as the model is, there is actually a LOT to unpack and understand.  The deeper you understand what is meant by the model, the more creative you can be in achieving your own development goals.

Based on my experience, I like to represent the 70-20-10 model like this:

The components of this model work together, and in my opinion are dependent upon each other.  Let’s work our way up from the bottom.

Formal Learning

Don’t let the word “formal” throw you off here.  This is just a way to talk about intentional learning that provides foundational knowledge for you to build upon and practice.  In today’s world, the opportunities for formal learning are immense and widely available.  Access to resources can be free or require payment.  Some require minutes of your time, others require intense periods of learning (think degrees and certifications).  Education comes from a lot of places.  Here is a list to spark your thinking on all the ways in which you can consume new knowledge.

  • Books
  • Podcasts
  • Interviews
  • Movies/TV Shows
  • YouTube Videos
  • Board Games
  • Video Games
  • Articles
  • Reports
  • Master Classes
  • Training Courses
  • Workshops
  • Webinars
  • Professional Association Meetings
  • Conferences
  • Certificate Programs
  • Degree Programs

The important factor here is that you seek out new ideas, concepts, information, and skills.  If you are doing this regularly, you will find that about 10% of your learning comes from the formal learning you engage in.

Real Life Experience

Once you learn something new, you put it to work by applying what you have learned in real life. The bulk of your learning will happen in this format.  Adults like to learn by doing, which is why this shows up as 70% of the model.  At times, you will find that most, if not all, of your learning is happening through real life experience. 

A key element to success here is to remember “real life” does not have to equal your current job assignment.  Challenging and meaningful experiences where you can practice what you have learned are available through many channels in your life.  It could come from on-the-job experience.  Absolutely.  And you should definitely try for this by working with your supervisor.  But don’t limit yourself just to that.  Experience can come from any number of professional associations and community organizations.  Do you volunteer with a community organization?  Are you on the Board for a local association like Rotary?  Do you coach a youth sports team?  Or teach Sunday School?  Volunteer with the local Parent-Teacher Association?  Don’t discount the amazing opportunities you have outside of work to learn and grow.  In fact, experience outside of your work will give you a more diverse perspective, which is an asset to your company.  We even have a word for it in talent development – global perspective.    

Get out there and practice, practice, practice.  Practice makes progress.  And that it what you want to achieve with your development efforts.

Learn from others

So you gain some new knowledge and try it out in real life.  The critical factor in your learning process is receiving feedback and coaching from others along the way.  I’m going to say that one more time.

The critical factor in your learning process is receiving feedback and coaching from others along the way.   

Learning from others, or as I like to often say – learning “with” others, allows your measure how you are doing, express concerns, frustrations, and other emotions, celebrate your wins, and gain a lot of advice and suggestions along the way. 

Mentors and Coaches are the best to turn to, as they are in the conversation to help you out.  Your supervisor or team members might also be good to turn to especially for feedback.  Role models, experts, or your HR partners are additional sources to seek out.  If you are in a cohort of any kind, your fellow participants will learn as much from you as you do from them.  Reach out and ask for that quick cup of (virtual) coffee.  Research tells us that we gain 20% of our learning through these powerful conversations with others.  These important people in your life will ask you powerful questions, listen, and help you process the knowledge you have gained through formal learning and the practical application you have gained through experience. 

I encourage you to dig into this model.  Ask yourself these valuable questions:

  1. How do I learn?
  2. How do I like to consume new knowledge?
  3. What would I like to learn?
  4. Am I seeking out opportunities in my life to help me grow?
  5. Who are my mentors?
  6. Could I benefit from a professional coach?
  7. Who supports my learning the most?

This will help you to better understand how you learn so that you can be intentional about your growth and development.

Look for Part 2 in this three-part series tomorrow!  I will share with you the 3 actionable steps to owning your development and a tool to help you drive action and accountability. 

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These blog posts are meant to be thought-provoking. We encourage you to use your deep thinking skills and apply this to your own growth and development in a way that is meaningful to you! If you choose to respond or start a conversation on this, we ask that you practice professionalism at all times.

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