07th April 2017

There are 3 Es in development

Line managers understand the importance of training and development of employees but you may agree that today, employee development isn’t simple. It’s neither easy for the individual being developed nor is it easy to plan development for someone else.

Many organisations have employee development methods in place that follow 70:20:10 but it may be time to put this framework aside — not because it’s wrong but because it has sadly lost it’s relevance. 90% of development across top talent in most workplaces is due to luck because very few organisations have the right employee development plan in practice.

To get it right today, employee development is all about taking individuals outside their comfort zone but to be successful, employee development plans need to be carefully crafted and a certain order of development under the watchful eye of a good coach needs to be established.

Sure, you could throw people into the deep end — it’s a tactic that’s worked at times for some — but this is could do some serious damage to your organisation and those working in it if it’s the only tactic you have up your sleeve.

Instead, I’d like to propose an order that forms a more contemporary way of looking at development.


What are the three Es in development?

1. Explanation

Having someone sit you down to explain the what, why, how, where and when of an activity, capability or skill.

When you embark on developing a skill or competency for any team member your focus should be on understanding the key behaviours or traits well. Part of what makes development difficult is that you most likely focus on higher order skills which are inherently complex, requiring mindset and behaviour changes. Having a good explanation of the why, what, how, where and when of the technique is the foundation for further progress.

Explanation can take the form of workshop training if an organisation has the resources to train people in key skills. Group training can be a highly engaging and efficient way of communicating key elements of a skill to a large number of people.

But some organisations don’t have the resources or capacity, and developing a course for these detailed skills or competences may not be warranted. In this instance, an expert needs to be capable of, and facilitate the explanation well.


2. Exposure

Having someone expose you to an activity, capability or skill in a safe, controlled environment where the focus is on seeing firsthand how you apply yourself.

There are two things that are important here — the first being consistency. This means regular exposure to the skill or activity being applied well in a range of situations.

The second; commitment. Employee development lasts forever and it requires commitment, so it’s critical that as individuals are regularly exposed to the skill being used so that they actively engage with it.

The person getting the development should be able to observe top talent executing these skills, and have the room or time to ask them questions about their development. How did they learn? What methods to they employ to stay current as well as upskill? What are their tricks or rules of thumb? When certain employees are able to show the potential to perform the skill or competency, they are ready for the third step of development.


3. Experience

Feel the heat of experience where you are the person ultimately responsible for a business outcome related to an activity, capability or skills.

Intensity has two aspects; relative and objective. Relative experience involves finding a level that is challenging but appropriate for employees (compared to their peers, experts etc). Objective intensity is measured as the amount of work done in a given time. Their goals, measure of progress, is whether they are able to increase work capacity through delivering outcomes leveraging the skill or competency.

I will tell you now, at the risk of giving away a big recruitment secret, that my assessment and recommendation is not based on who went to the best university or has had the most training, even though education and training are important. It’s not based on who had the best bosses, even though mentors and coaches are critical. My assessment always comes down to the quality of the breadth and depth of experiences that people have had.

In decoding those experiences — and this is no secret — we use the X-Y-Z formula

Achieved X by doing Y as measured by Z 

The measure of development, put simply, is ‘can you do something better or with more capacity today than you could yesterday?’ Simple, right?


Taking a reflective approach to building a robust leadership development plan is the quickest way to accelerate your growth as a leader. And to help you guide your reflection, we’ve put together an easy worksheet—’Taking Stock of Your Development’ that allows you to get a clear view of your development experiences. Click here to download it now.


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Justin Miles

Justin Miles

Manager Partner, Melbourne at Generator Talent
Justin is the Managing Partner of our Melbourne office, an outcome focused leader with a track record of driving business performance through proven talent and organisation development practices. Justin’s methods and skills have been shaped by working with performance oriented leaders in great companies including PepsiCo, The Campbell Soup Company, Diageo, Rip Curl, Fonterra and Wesfarmers, in Australia, the USA and Latin America.
Justin Miles

Categories: Developing Talent

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