The 70-20-10 of Feel Good at Work!
The 70-20-10 principle of learning is widely accepted and implemented when it comes to developing oneself. It has also given a path for learning professionals as well as stakeholders to understand how to own their learning journey. Having a structure to fall back on helps in understanding where we are investing how much of ourselves and also gives a benchmark to understand how aligned we are to an optimum pathway of learning. What would such a structured pathway to enjoying your work life look like?
Work life often is associated with something mandatory and hence something we want to look at avoiding, stepping away from or ignoring! We dread the Mondays and seek the Fridays! There are multiple orientations to understand what the culture is what one must do to ‘fit in’ and to gel with the people we would be spending most of our alert and active hours while being ‘authentic’ ! Feel good would hence often be something which comes in the shape of dress down Fridays or coffee talks Wednesdays etc. But if you were to fine tune a structure or a blue print so to say for engagement, for enjoyment and for performance at the workplace, what would the 70-20-10 look like?
For most, 70% comes from doing what one likes, what they’re good at, what pays them and what garners them acceptance/regard/respect/visibility at the workplace. So for a content developer, it is the content that goes up, for which they are known, recalled and quoted that makes up 70% of what makes work fun and meaningful. It can also be looked at as the comfort zone as the skills needed to perform here are the skills that one more or less has, and has repeated practice in the same. One feels psychologically comfortable performing these tasks and has relative autonomy in the role as well.
The next 20% is the stretch zone where one steps out candidly from one’s comfort zone, treading some new relationships, some new roles and some new areas of work. These could be cross functional projects or working with different team members or understanding how to do some part of their role differently. For a sales professional, it could mean understanding how marketing works to be able to generate greater pull from clients or building brand presence to aid in their selling style. When being in the learning or stretch zone is about 20%, it gives enough newness to break through the mundaneness and also gives enough buffer from work being too challenging.
The last 10% is the zone which is the difficult zone. It could be difficult because of airtime with a manager or a peer or client one doesn’t get along with, it could be because of a difficult or hazardous work environment or it could be a psychologically or emotionally challenging space. When this 10% keeps increasing, one starts experiencing the work environment as toxic and runs out of the coping resources needed to deal with it. This is the most crucial zone as this can lead one to growth by leaps and bounds by mastering that one critical area of their life or be crippled by it with trauma like associations of working with a particular kind of people escalating burn out.
As learning & development professionals, as occupational health experts at work, or as business heads – it would be important to assess how are the zones looking like for your people and where do they need an out by making the boundaries between these zone permeable where needed. Identifying the buffers present in 70% and helping one derive their reasons to stay, contribute and grow from there makes workplaces positive, safe and progressive.
We work extensively with organizations across cultures and industries to build positive and safe workplaces. Reach us to discuss more!
Director of Leadership & Learning, Senior Consultant
PhD (Clinical Psychology), MA(Psychology)