Follow 70-20-10 development plan
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Follow 70-20-10 development plan
Development Plan is not Training plan. Training is one of the means to achieve a holistic development. Development plan has three constituents- Training, Self-learning and on-the-job development. A development plan should typically have 70-20-10 distribution in terms of effort across these three constituents, with maximum effort around on-the-job development.

There is a mis-conception that development plan of an employee is the training plan. To clear the terminologies, there are three terms which are used for building employee capabilities:

  • Training: This is the lowest level of intervention. Training is a formal class-room knowledge delivery. It is the best way to ensure the attention and attendance of an employee. It is the most structured way as well.
  • Learning: Learning can some from different channels. Training is one medium for learning. One can also learn by self-learning methods of reading, enrolling in self-learning programs etc...To further clarify, attending a training session does not mean that employee has learned.
  • Development: The goal of learning and training (as a subset of learning) is development or in other words, the actual enhancement of expertise and competencies in an individual. To clarify further, training and learning may not guarantee that employee has developed.

Therefore, we always emphasize on our clients to use the term of 'development plan'. Employee Development can be broadly achieved through the following means:

  • Training Plan
  • Self-learning Plan
  • On-the-job development Plan

The above three have their own role to play in the development process, and cannot replace one for another. Our recommendation to our clients has been to adopt 70-20-10 formulae to get the most efficient and cost-effective development agenda. As per this rule, one should have 10% of development effort to be spent through training, 20% through self-learning and 70% through on-the-job experience. The reasoning is as follows:

  • Training is costly and is only the first step in the development process: Without under-mining the importance of training, it does add a visible cost to the development expense. Training should be used as a starting point for a development path, to provide the basic grounding and to lay a foundation. It is evident that in the initial stages an employee needs help for a systematic and structured input.
  • Self-learning is cheaper and also tests employee initiative: Self-learning comes through reading, getting enrolled into self-paced learning, becoming part of the groups and associations etc... Self-learning is cost-effective and above all tests the interest of an employee to develop himself.
  • On-the-job experience is the longest but surest path for development: Five days of training may need 5 months of on-the-job experience to covert the learning into actual practice. On-the-job experience builds the confidence, as well as brings the sense of reality in terms of how to apply the practical side of the theory learnt in the training room.
  • On-the-job experience gets value for the organization: Having deployed an employee for on-the-job development opportunity, will get some benefit to the organization for the compensation given.

The Challenges

  • Employees love trainings: Formal trainings add flavor to an employee's resume. They also give en employee a dedicated time off the work-madness. Trainings don't demand that much initiative from the employee as self-learning or on-the-job deployments. Therefore, employees may not appreciate the non-training related investment by the organization.
  • It’s difficult to track the self-learning: Apart from the situation, where an employee enrolls into a central self-learning platform, it’s difficult to keep a check on the enrollment, progress and performance of an employee.
  • Quantifying the application of trainings and self-learning: Organizations have generally failed in track on how well the training or self-learning has contributed to an employee development and how well those learnings are getting applied. The challenge is on how to quantify and also the band-width to do the same.
  • On-the-job deployments are not systematically followed-up: On-the-job development becomes part of any other job and when a leader and employee don't get time to discuss on how and what employee has learnt. This leads to employee not actually realizing the level of development which has been achieved.


  • Explain the whole concept of development to an employee: One can explain the concept of development and how training, self-learning and on-the-job fits in the development agenda.
  • Include the tracking piece in the development plan: The development plan can have an additional column which tracks on not only the completion of a development activity, but also on how it is adding to the actual development, and how it is being applied.
  • Keep the employee and leader alive on development agenda on day-to-day basis: Just like one keeps a tab on the work-goals on the day-to-day basis, one can keep on discussing the development agenda, and a leader can keep on giving a near-time feedback on the development.
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