How Dell Develops Training for Career Growth of New Leaders

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When it comes to professional development, many companies, including Dell, ascribe to the 70-20-10 rule. The breakdown refers to 70 percent on-the-job training, 20 percent from mentoring relationships and 10 percent from formal training and reading assignments. Even with 70-20-10 used as a rough guideline for professional learning, a recent study by Lumesse found that the average mix is more like a 50/50 split between on-the- and training programs, both formal and informal.

With those statistics, how does a large company decide what training curriculum to develop?

 “During course development, we use the ADDIE model to navigate through various instructional phases, and to align our development timelines,” Sumati Kaushik, a consultant on Dell’s Global Leader Development team said. “The letters in ADDIE correspond to the five phases of development: analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation.”

Content development is collaborative process between training facilitators, curriculum designers and business leaders.

“After doing analysis and scoping the project, we identify subject matter experts (SMEs) in the business to work with us to validate the objectives of the program,” Jackie Woodfin explained.

She has worked at Dell a consultant on the Global Leader Development team since 2013. “Once the objectives are defined, we research the topic as well as use our subject matter expert(s) to validate the content.”  We have also used an iterative process for developing courses when time is an issue.  In this process, we collaborate and design with the SMEs, testing as we go iteratively until the flow works well.

After researching and developing a training program based on the chosen topic, delivering the training is the next challenge. When asked about the rise of virtual meeting technology and how designing a program for in-person training versus virtual trainings, she said it could be an entire blog post in itself.

“We design a virtual version of all of our in-person classes due to the many locations of our audiences at Dell,” Woodfin said. “We try to keep all of our virtual learning to a 90 minute timeframe because studies have shown that 90 minutes is about the maximum time to keep the audiences’ attention via that delivery method.”

Regardless of how the training is hosted, virtually or in-person, who it’s hosted by remains a key factor in the success of a course.

“One crucial aspect in developing training content is humility,” Catherine Salvagnac, a senior advisor within Dell’s Global Talent Management group said. “The content designer must keep in mind that the quality of a course is 30 percent the content itself and 70 percent the delivery talent of our facilitators!”

The constantly changing landscape of technology means training and development in all forms is incredibly important to encouraging innovation in the workplace, especially when it comes to developing the next generation of leaders. DDI World found that the highest quality of leader development occurs with 52 percent on-the-job learning, 27 percent learning from others and 21 percent formal training programs. The Harvard Business Review also noted in an article that “the best leaders are insatiable learners.”

“Our group primarily develops training for leaders at Dell,” Woodfin explains. Two of the flagship programs the team has produced include Foundations of Leadership geared toward first-time people managers and Jump Start that focuses on helping new graduate hires acclimate to their first corporate environment. Leadership Workshops and the Director Leadership Program are additional leadership development at Dell.

Kaushik echoed those statements, noting that “intentional learning is required for any skill transfer to happen on the job. If you are designer, be clear about the key deliverables that the trainee will be able to produce at the end of the training.”

She also recommends that trainees of any level implement what they learn in any training at least a dozen times before it becomes a natural practice. “The facilitator needs to emphasize that the training is only as valuable as what they would do with it after the event.”

We’d love to hear from you. Tell us about the best training course you’ve experienced in your career!

About the Author: Meredith Harrison

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