How to enhance your career and quality of life with the 70-20-10 rule

How to enhance your career and quality of life with the 70-20-10 rule

| Editor-in-Chief's Column

At conferences, lectures, and various networking meetings, people frequently ask me whether there is a universal formula for success that can make anyone a celebrity or a billionaire.

Sadly, I have to say “NO!” However, one rule can lead you to remarkable results in one way or another – the 70-20-10 rule.

It was first discussed following the publication of the book “The Career Architect Development Planner” in 1996. Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger were management and personnel organisation researchers, and they suggested using their development methodology. As a part of this approach, all development activities of employees are divided into three areas with percentages:

  • 70% of knowledge is acquired by solving real tasks and fulfilling new responsibilities;

  • 20% of knowledge is gained from colleagues, mentors, advisors, and management through sharing experiences;

  • 10% of knowledge is acquired through courses and webinars.

Perhaps it might seem odd that I, as the founder of an educational platform, believe in the effectiveness of this rule when Lectera, plausibly, will only give you 10% of success. But, in fact, this isn’t odd, all is perfect here, and there are no contradictions because I specifically created Lectera as a source of practical techniques and tools. Therefore, Lectera can provide you with the same 10% and at least half the 70% from the first point because all case studies, tests, and assignments aim to ensure each student develops skills.

However, let us go back to the formula itself. Why does 70% of knowledge need to be practical? Well, then you will retain it, unlike knowledge acquired in “glasshouse” settings like a class or home. It also delivers instant feedback and clarity about the results because if you apply, for example, a sales technique, you can immediately see from the client's reaction whether you have succeeded or not. The same benefits are achieved by working that 20% with coaches and colleagues because they can explain everything and offer you an objective assessment.

How to implement the 70-20-10 rule in life

How to implement the 70-20-10 rule in life

Let me tell you exactly how you can ensure that your professional life is divided according to the 70-20-10 rule. Namely, what you have to do in each of these areas to develop yourself and significantly change your professional life.

You can acquire practical knowledge, which makes up 70% of your development, in the following ways:

  • Take on new tasks previously performed by more competent and experienced employees;

  • Cover for a colleague in the workplace and perform their duties;

  • Work on past mistakes and repeat the processes which led to them;

  • Take the initiative and start your own project;

  • Independently hold business meetings, presentations, seminars and speaking events on behalf of the company;

  • Establish relationships with the company's other departments or supervisors;

  • Start monitoring, managing, and learning about the work of your colleagues;

  • Communicate more frequently with partners, management, and customers;

  • Build expertise in your activities, write a blog, and offer paid consultations;

  • Function as a mentor to someone less experienced and professional, teaching them what you only recently learned yourself.

Given the fact that 20% of development, as we recall, means interacting with third parties, this is where you can:

  • Attend networking events more frequently, expand your business connections, and meet other people;

  • Be more interested in the opinion of colleagues, ask their advice, and share experiences;

  • Find a mentor or coach (which will require extra financial expense. However, we will discuss this another time);

  • Gather feedback from your clients and management;

  • Revaluate regularly and track your results.

It is even easier with 10% of development, which is packed with more theoretical knowledge. Here you can:

  • Get a second higher education (if you have the extra time and moral strength, of course);

  • Take online courses and attend workshops;

  • Watch educational videos on YouTube;

  • Read professional literature and articles by experts in your field.

How can you implement 70-20-10 into your work if you are an HR manager or boss?

How can you implement 70-20-10 into your work

Implementing the list I shared above is easy enough if you are a financially driven employee who wants to realise your ambitions and get noticed by management. However, this list is more appropriate for individuals than for collective use. Although, what if you want to have your entire office follow the 70-20-10 rule? In reality, this can be achieved in three steps.

Step 1. Review the current employee development system within the company

I hope you already have this sort of system in place because investing in developing your employees means investing in the company's future. So now you must evaluate this system and look at it on a point-by-point basis:

  • How are your employees educated right now? Through training sessions, online courses, mentoring, or books?

  • How much of the company's resources are spent on this training? Consider not only monetary costs, but also time and human costs.

  • What are the learning difficulties your employees currently face? How involved are they, in general? How do they assess the current system in the company, and how would they like to adjust it?

  • Is the current development system producing actual results? How does it affect productivity, and how is it determined?

  • How do your employees evaluate the current training system? What are their expectations about it?

  • How does the productivity and quality of an employee's work change after completing their training? How can their efficiency and results be measured?

Step 2. Update your system

Your main objective in the previous step is to understand what your employees need to bring more results and profits to the business and achieve career growth. Answer all the questions mentioned in great detail. Then you will understand how to apply the 70-20-10 rule in practice, specifically in your case. Write down not only the innovative approaches to the team, such as “managing individual projects once a month”, but also:

  • The validity period of the 70-20-10 system, where it will be necessary to measure the results and make adjustments;

  • The purpose of this approach because any development should have a specific goal;

  • The budget you are willing to assign to each of the three aspects of this innovative approach.

Step 3. Choose implementation tools

List coaches and topics for individual projects, select the most flexible and cost-effective platforms used to run them, develop a system for measuring results, and identify relevant skills for your employees and courses to help their career growth. In a nutshell, put all the previous points into action. How will they be introduced? How will the team get started? What do they need to use to achieve this from a technical point of view?

The 70-20-10 approach perfectly matches the trends of the 21st century, where lifelong learning education is virtually the only way to remain relevant (and, simultaneously, keep your position) in the job market. With this rule, you can develop naturally, free of stress, and, most importantly, faster than your colleagues and competitors. I have told you about the practical application of the 70-20-10 rule. You can also learn more about its theoretical side in the Lectera glossary.


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