Instructor-led training (ILT) has long been the standard of teaching in every industry. And why not? A subject matter expert gets up in front of a group of learners and delivers what’s necessary to allow the participants to be successful in their job. The participants, in turn, go back to their desks and – ideally – implement their new skills.

As the learning and development industry has grown, however, we have discovered that ILT isn’t the only way people learn, nor is it the most common. We know there is so much more to training than just this one modality, like on-the-job training, social learning, peer to peer, virtual learning and more.

According to Training Industry, Inc.’s wiki, the 70:20:10 model “is a commonly used formula within the training profession to describe the optimal sources of learning by successful managers.” It takes into account all the different types of learning and breaks them down into three categories: Seventy percent of learning comes from actual on-the-job tasks, engaging with managers, making decisions and solving problems. Twenty percent of learning comes from social interactions. We learn a lot by chatting with peers, asking senior employees questions, meeting with mentors or starting a new project with our team. That leaves only 10 percent of learning for formal, traditional learning events like ILT.

How can we justify time-consuming and expensive training events when they’re barely a blip on the training radar? Because ILT sets the tone for everything else.

People need to hear and retain information. Trying to complete a job task or function without guidance generally doesn’t work out well. Time is wasted with mistakes, and we all know time is money. Eventually, with repeated mistakes and frustrations, your employee morale drops, and turnover rates soar.

Formal training, with instruction and exercises or even lectures can energize and foster collaboration and creativity in a team environment while kicking off new initiatives. Suddenly, your focused ILT has started a ripple effect: Subject matter experts are helping on the job, managers are coaching, peers are engaging in the hallway or conference rooms, and learners are collaborating. None of that happens without the initial ILT to disseminate knowledge.

To make sure your initial ILT offering sets a positive tone, which can lead to better knowledge-sharing, try to grab people’s attention. Hire or assign a dynamic person with an engaging personality to lead your kick-off session. When people are engaged from the start, they will remember more.

Just because you may be in a lecture-style classroom doesn’t mean you should ignore collaboration efforts. Encourage participants to engage with each other or the instructor during conversation breaks. Create mini-activities that encourage movement and a break from listening. Develop a break-out session that introduces a game to reinforce information retention. Assign pre-work so learners already have some knowledge before the session starts. Encourage chatter before the lesson begins with a teaser question or an ice-breaker. Activities like these can reinforce the ILT. When participants leave the room, they are still talking about the lesson, engaging with peers and mentors, and transferring knowledge.

From a percentage perspective, the 70-20-10 model makes sense. Everything you do in the “70” and “20” brackets is set up by the time and money you spend on the “10.” Once you realize that the 70-20-10 format is based on real data and is not just a suggestion on how to set up your program, you will realize that investing time and money on formal training like ILT can really benefit your organization and positively bolster your business goals and objectives.

The bottom line? The more you invest in your “10,” the more you will get back in the end. ILT is an investment that has a positive trickle-down effect worth the upfront costs. The rest of the learning process is much cheaper in terms of hard dollars, but if your learners are socializing and collaborating with solid information recalled from a well-organized and efficient ILT program, everyone learns more.

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