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Development Outside of the Training Course



I'm putting together a course for line managers on conducting effective personal development plan discussions with their staff. One of the areas I'd like to cover is around how they can go about creating development opportunities for their staff beyond sending them on training courses or using eLearning, particularly as we are a public sector organisation who has a very meagre training budget in the current economic climate.

I suppose I could get them to do a brainstorming or flipchart exercise, but I'd like to do something with more impact to make the message stick. Any ideas?


8 Responses

  1. Learning on a budget

    Hi Stuart

    Try Action Learning Sets.  A group meets (self directed or facilitated) to discuss workplace issues, share experiences, identify problems, find solutions, question and reflect on practice.  Basically they work around Kolb’s learning cycle.  The theory is that: Learning equals programmed knowledge plus questioning plus reflection.  For further information see  R.W Revans

    Hope this helps


    O D Innovations 



  2. Use their own experiences

    Hi Stuart

    Get them to think about how they have learnt things in the past. It could be how they learnt to ride a bike as a child, how they learnt to play their favourite sport, how they learnt to drive, how they learnt their job. It starts to get them thinking about methods other than traditional ‘classroom’ based learning. They can then start to apply that to their current role and come up with some more creative solutions

  3. Time and Money

    With public sector budgets shrinking and managers protecting their training budgets, I suggest that managers allocate their staff the budget cash equivalent in time.  A 2.5% training budget equates to 52.5 minutes a week for a staff member who works 35 hours a week.  A 3% training budget equates to 63 minutes a week for the same staff member.  Challenge the managers to coach their staff to create 52/63 minute learning activities every week.  It could be action learning, open learning, elearning, process learning, specific networking, etc.  Over a 4 week period that equates to a half day training course.

    Ask the managers to review the 4 activities at the end of the 4 weeks and identify what activities will be covered over the next 4 weeks.  You’ll create ongoing development, manager supported learning, and learning events that can be linked to your 1-1 and appraisal process.

  4. an exercise….

    Give each deegate a sheet of paper with a table with 12 blank boxes.

    Tell them that they have five minutes in silence to come up with 12 alternative ways that a person can learn something other than by going on a training course.

    After five minutes get them each to call out their ideas and flipchart them, where there are repetitions just add a tick….you’ll soon have a whole mass of options.  Then discuss each in open forum asking how could this work for you?  This will get them looking at what can work and what can’t work and why.  It takes no longer than 30 minutes and generates a good list of options AND some practical development.

    Finally you can ask if any of them have learned anything from this exercise…….which brings you to the point that individuals and groups learn by being set a challenge or a task…..

    Example ways people can learn without a training course;

    be coached, read a book, listen to a cassette/cd/podcast, elearning, watch a dvd/video, write a paper, give a presentation on the subject, teach someone else, sit with Nellie, do a project, mentoring, job swap, secondment, volunteering in a charity, trial and error, practice, search the internet, join a forum, have a brainstorm, ask someone, action learning sets, seek out best practice guides, study tours, adult education classes, free webinars, free whitepapers, U3A, alumni group involvement.


    I hope this helps


  5. 70/20/10

    Have you considered the use of 70/20/10 development plans where:

    70 per cent consists of in-role development: for example critical experiences, projects, redesigning work or processes etc.

    20 per cent consists of learning from others: for example coaching and mentoring, or coaching and mentoring others, feedback (360, performance management)

    10 per cent consists of formal training.

    Try asking to your participants to think on their own for a few minutes about the most developmental experiences in their career.  Then flipchart them.  What you may find is that few of those experiences are training courses.  Use this to explain the important of in-role and relationship-based/Feedback-based learning strategies.  Introduce the 70/20/10 model (you could even plot their development experiences against it).  Then ask them to think about a learning objective for one of their team and to construct the development plan for this learning objective using the 70/20/10 model.  They may discover that development opportunities outside the classroom far exceed training courses available. 



  6. Coaching, Coaching, Coaching!

    Hi Stuart,

    Coaching is a key tool, role and responsibility of managers that helps them tap into and release their talent into the team and business. When coaching becomes, not a formal one hour event, but a series of daily leadership conversations and ‘just the way we do things around here’, people begin to awaken to bringing more of themselves to work and contributing to their success, that of the team and organisation. Of course, the review process is one opportunity to have these conversations but should not be seen as a ‘tick box’ process, but an opportunity to focus on what has worked well, explore the challenges and development areas and look forward to identify how develop in the future, supported and facilitated by the line manager.

    Identifying stretching assignments that gets individuals working on the edges of their knowledge and experience are great ways to engage people in taking responsibility for developing themselves and growing their skills and experience.

    Conversations around what’s important to an individual about the work they do (what they’re passionate about) helps everyone recognise where the individual is likely to excel and really enjoy the  work that feeds those values – resulting in engaged people who contribute fully to the business.

    Good luck with weaving in some ideas to  the programme that help the learning stick!

    Feel free to contact me if you’d like a further chat,


    Karen Stone UK Head of Learning & Development

  7. Book suggestion

    I like Peter Honey’s 101 ways to develop your people without really trying.  The contents page is an alphabetical list of 101 ways.  A competition to see how many they can come up withthe challenge to beat 101.

    It is from 1994, and whilst all 101 ways included I believe are still relevan it is probably missing some newer methodologies e.g. Google, other internet based research.


  8. Informal learning – the untapped powerhouse

    Since so much workplace learning is informal, I would impress upon your line managers that this is the case. Too many people automatically turn to training as a default response to what they percieve as a skills shortfall. Training is not always the best answer. So help them see that 80% or so of what their staff have learnt and will learn about their jobs takes place outside the classroom. When the line managers get this, they will realise that lack of training budget is not the handicap it might have seemed. Indeed budget is often not the issue with nurturing informal learning. The issue is usually paying attention to it and ‘feeding’ it where needed. Find out the channels that people already use for learning useful work stuff, and open up those channels even wider. Find out where they get their information from, and lower any barriers between them and the information they need. I wrote a Best Practice Guide on this which you can get from

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