Your success as a system integrator and the job of developing and deploying complex solutions is propelling the need to continuously develop and improve specific capabilities as part of an integrated engineering team. Internally, you collaborate across functions to create different parts of a system, while externally competition is growing, and customer expectations are rising. So, how do you keep up?
Three Pillars of Learning and Skills Development
There are many ways to grow and gain new skills. The 70-20-10 concept is a researched, industry accepted best practice for development. It states that the most effective development uses three approaches or pillars: on-the-job experiences (70%), developmental relationships (20%) and coursework and training (10%).
Engineering managers or technical leaders at your company can support this part of the learning process by assigning engineers to specific projects or parts of a project that will challenge the engineer and give them the opportunity to learn new tools and technologies. This can be formalized by rotating engineers through different groups that may be focused on specific aspects of application design and development such as user interface and web design, embedded and firmware development, database and backend development, or even hardware and custom electronic design.
This targeted skills development on the job can be supported by adding a mentorship component to on-the-job learning.
20: Feedback and Relationships
The second pillar of high impact development is the personal relationship between engineers and the people they work with including their managers and the technical leaders of the organization. Feedback is key to the developmental journey. Equally important is taking time to reflect on learning so the engineer can understand their strengths, identify areas of opportunity, and internalize what they’ve learned. The development opportunity is more likely to stick if you can take time not only to self-reflect, but also to reflect through candid discussions with others, including your manager, mentor or a peer.
Building relationships and networking are strategies to grow your perspective and skills. Enabling engineers to interact with a diverse set of people broadens their viewpoint. It challenges them to think differently and enables them see things from another person’s position. This fuels innovative thinking, new approaches to problem solving, and more effective decision-making.
10: Training and Certification
The third pillar adds more formal training and learning activities to the high impact development mix. Courses and training are very valuable for jumpstarting learning new skills, but the knowledge gained won’t impact development until it is applied and can be practiced. Applying new knowledge is a process – practice, reflect, adjust, repeat. Having the opportunity to apply new skills and ask for feedback along the way are critical to retention and proficiency refinement.
But does it work?!
The 70-20-10 method increases engagement, productivity and retention. Ultimately, it drives achievement of business objectives. And because this approach is flexible, it can be applied to your business and individual needs.
When engineers are empowered to take action in the workplace, they focus on their career goals, employ a growth mindset, and are more eager to collaborate with peers by taking initiative to connect with mentors and leaders to form these critical relationships.
Tips for Getting Started
Applying the high impact development concept in your organization can be challenging and requires commitment and effort. The following tips as well as the references below will provide you some guidance and resources from NI to support you in this journey.
Identify a specific learning objective or development goal for your organization or for individuals in your team.
Think about which skills, knowledge and competencies are necessary to successfully achieve the objective or goal. Ask others for their input.
Decide which of the three pillars described above can best provide the learning opportunity for these skills and competencies. In some case a combination of these may be best suited.
Make plans for individuals in your team to integrate the learning activities into their ongoing projects and schedule. If necessary, set aside time from their ongoing project work so that they can complete formal training and have time to reflect, practice and share their newly developed knowledge.
Integrate coaching and mentoring by more experienced team members in the process, or have engineers shadow a role model. Establish an internal learning support structure to provide engineers a go-to-person when they want more help.
Leverage available training and development resources to support your growth.
As you define your team’s development plan the NI Partner Technical Development Program may be able to assist with providing additional references or guidance. Feel free to reach out to us at PartnerTraining@ni.com if you would like to discuss your development plan and objectives.
We will provide more information and resources to guide your high impact development in future blog post, so make sure to subscribe to the Alliance Partner Network blog in the Blog Options to be automatically notified.
Christian Loew manages the Partner Technical Development Program at National Instruments, and has provided training and technical consulting to partners and customers for 15+ years as part of the Applications Engineering, Systems Engineering, and R&D departments at NI.
authored by Christian L, CLA Applications Engineering Senior Manager - Automotive and Transportation NI - Austin, TX