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Learning & Development at GM&T

Evan Perkins - Head of Learning & Development at GM&T shares his thoughts on high performance evironment, learning on the job and developing oneself.

One of the greatest approaches to learning, however under utilised and undervalued, is the capability (capability = knowledge, skills, experience and behaviour) that is developed on the job. So powerful is this, that some might say that the classroom is dead - I feel that that is a bit extreme! There will always be a role for the classroom, whether the driver is a critical mass of learners, access to expertise that doesn’t currently reside in the organisation, or the importance of a safe and low risk environment where learners are invited to make mistakes and learn through them.

At GM&T we are proud of the high performance environment we have created, where our “unstoppable passion for excellence, growth and learning” (a key GM&T value) provides opportunities for learning on a daily basis.  It is this key value that attracts many employees and suppliers to GM&T. It was McCall, Lombardo and Eichinger who, in 1996, published the 70/20/10 model, which is at the heart of the learning and development framework at GM&T. The model describes that the most efficient and effective approach for learning at work is experiential. The model highlights that the optimum model for learning is 70% on the job 20% through feedback and coaching and 10% through formal education (or training).
Nevertheless, for GM&T and many other organisations, the challenge remains, and that is - “how do you highlight this in a way that employees recognise, value, and are enduringly engaged by primarily developing their skills through the work that they do?”
Many businesses establish “on the job” approaches as formal, “off the job” learning as being in disguise. Very structured shadowing schemes, mandated mentoring and even secondments run the risk of taking too formal an approach.   Learning through doing, with access to “in the moment” subject matter, expertise and/or line manager support, provide immediate feedback and the chance to reflect and grow.  It’s a popular adage to say that we learn through our mistakes, but whilst this can prove  effective, it can also prove highly risky for the individual, and possibly the organisation as well.
So what’s the answer? Experiential learning offers a lot of potential. The chance to develop whilst working on real business challenges is fascinating. Ideas that come from working from a proposal to the implementation stage of a project, give the learning employee the opportunity to develop a whole new set of skills and experience.  Combine this with opportunities for discussion, reflection, feedback, situational mentoring and recognition, and you have a compelling mix. In 2014 GM&T intends to harness these principles and continue to fuel “the Energy to Succeed”.