Building Skills in Practice

21 March 2019

Informal learning, partnered with formal training and development, are of enormous benefit to practices as well as individuals. ACA partner Cbus identifies some of the ways you can amplify learning in your practice.

1 - Building skills

Getting the right mix of skills and experience into your practice and helping people grow can be both a challenge and an opportunity. While it’s in the interests of every business to invest in people, there are many ways to go about this.

Many companies apply a 70:20:10 model, which suggests that roughly 70% of learning happens on the job, 20% from relationships with others, and 10% through structured training. Although this may vary from person to person, the model does tell us that people need a mix of learning experiences and that informal learning, like on the job training and feedback, are of great benefit.

Relationships built at work are also important, and it’s not just good relationships. Having a bad manager can provide an opportunity in learning what not to do!

Role models and mentors can also make a huge difference. This can be an older or more experienced person or a team mate.

Good training can further support all the knowledge sharing and inhouse learning that happens more organically. Technology offers many options and gives wide flexibility, especially if members of your team are out of the office meeting clients or on-site visits.

What’s important is to be mindful that people learn in different ways and to cater for their different needs.

Learning is an iterative process. It builds up over time and doesn’t happen in a straight line.  Think about the first time you did something new and how you got there – how much practice, feedback and adjustment it took.

So, what are some things you can do to boost learning in your practice?

  1. Encourage people to invest in their own learning and make them accountable. Get them to write down their goals at regular intervals, say every six months, and to reflect on what they’ve achieved.
  2. Give them the support they need to reach their goals, whether it’s helping them identify options, providing added flexibility, or contributing towards the cost of a course.
  3. Allow time for sharing back. If someone has attended a conference or come off a big project, give them time to talk about it at your next team meeting or encourage them to share a video or some photos. This gives them the opportunity to consolidate their learning, and others a chance to learn something new. Don’t over-do it – it should be easy to share back rather than an exercise in creating new work.
  4. Enable people to get a range of experiences – for example, by becoming involved on different projects, working with different people, attending client meetings, shadowing a more experienced team member, stepping into someone’s regular job while they’re on leave, or touring a new site.
  5. Create a safe, supportive environment, and give people the opportunity to build networks at work, to mentor and to be mentored. Good relationships go a long way. If people are consumed by politics and rivalry or feel threatened they won’t have either the space to learn or the inclination to share back.

Remember, learning is a two-way street. It must come from the learner being enthusiastic and willing to develop themselves further, but the support, encouragement and the environment that the employer sets remains critical.

This article is provided by ACA National Sponsor Cbus, the industry super fund for building, construction and allied industries. For more information about Cbus, visit or call them on 1300 361 784.