Learning on the job

The Islander – April 2024

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70 : 20 : 10 rule

How much learning do we expect our crew to do once they are in a job? According to research, most of it!

To ensure that real learning takes place and endures, apply the 70 : 20 : 10 rule. With so much emphasis on courses and qualifications, it’s easy to think that crew are getting all the development they need off the yacht. Integrating both formal and informal training, is a more holistic and enduring way to learn and develop new skills and behaviours.

  • 70% from real life and on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem solving. This is the most important aspect.
  • 20% from feedback and from watching and working with role models.
  • 10% from formal training. Sadly this is all they are likely to recall, remember that term, ‘skill fade’?

The model was created in the 1980s by three researchers and authors, Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger. The model continues to be widely used by many organisations across the globe. The authors believe that hands-on experience (the 70%) is the most important, because it enables individuals to discover and refine their skills, in a ‘live’ context. They can also learn from their mistakes and can often receive immediate feedback on their performance, whether that be from you or self-reflection. Their decision making will improve, many of the decisions we make use mental models developed through real time experience, rather than theory learnt in the classroom. 

The 20% comes through a range of activities that include social learning, coaching, mentoring, collaborative learning and learning from others. Encouragement and feedback are important elements of this valuable learning method.

The formula holds that only 10 percent of professional development comes from the traditional formal classroom environment, which may be a surprise to many!

The question is how are you going to implement this 90% of on board learning and development for crew? Perhaps the first question should be – “Am I going to create a learning culture on board?” Once the answer is “yes”, it may not be as onerous as it at first appears.

There are many ways to help create the learning culture on board:-

  • Developing a buddy system and already you are providing a mentoring and learning environment. Whether they are actually doing or just watching and listening, they are learning
  • Job and knock – could turn into Job & learn! Perhaps it is Thursday afternoons, for n hour or so to learn something new
  • Ask someone junior to run a 15 minute tool box talk – the NHS have been running a system for years  where a student will – watch one : do one : teach one (surgical operations – thankfully supervised!)
  • Hold monthly 1:1’s and ensure everyone has a current action plan in place, and that includes you!
  • When crew return from a course, get them to demonstrate or teach others, some of their new found knowledge.
  • Earmark 30 minutes each week for crew development
  • Go out of your way to give crew regular feedback – both positive and developmental.

So as a senior crew member if you are wondering how responsible you are for your junior crew’s learning … It’s a lot! 90%. Make a commitment this winter to try out a couple of extra ways to increase your crew’s learning and development.

Impact Crew will support you to create the right culture for your yacht.  We specialise in providing team and leadership development, along with other management consultancy services.