The Quest for Performance | Employee Development | Busting the Myths

Effective performance is the goal of any organization. As leaders, we want to make sure that we are setting up our team for success. We can’t expect great performance and quality employee development without providing the right tools for learning that will actually lead to great performance.

For a long time, many of us have thought that putting great content in front of our team would be enough. If the content was interesting enough, presented well enough, or put in front of the team enough, that would lead to learning adoption and therefore, great performance. We now know, the content alone is not enough.

We’ve also thought about learning as an actual “event.” Learning was seen as something we would sit down to do, go to a class or take in a workshop to actually “learn.” These are one time instances where learning would take place. But these “events” ultimately don’t last. Even if some of the information is retained, it doesn’t lead to an actual change in performance or behavior.

So, what actually works? If content alone doesn’t work and learning events don’t lead to great performance, what does?

In large adoption studies conducted by Dr. Robert Binkerhoff, Professor emeritus at Western Michigan University and recipient of the ATD Exceptional Contribution to Workplace Learning and Performance award, Brinkerhoff found that only 10 – 15% of any improved on-the-job performance was due to the content itself.

If you’re a content provider, this may seem a little disheartening. You pour your time and energy into creating great content for your team, only to realize that only 10-15% is really making a change!

So, what does this mean? Does content not matter at all? Of course not. Quality content is crucial for training. The way it is presented and the environment in which it is presented is even more crucial though.

Check out our next installment in this series as we talk about Employee Development and Why it’s Broken! 

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