On-the-Job Training to Reinforce Learning
On-the-job training to reinforce learning has significant advantages over the kind of old-school training that occurs in a classroom environment. But it, too, can be a waste of time unless it’s done right.
Most training gurus agree that on-the-job training is the most effective way to learn the skills, knowledge and competencies required for a specific job. It’s real-time practice and learning as opposed to just hearing about or role playing your way through theoretical workplace situations. However, like any training, if it is not targeted to specific and relevant skills, measured for effective application, and continually encouraged, it will have little effect on improving overall performance.
Structure Is Needed
Just having a less experienced employee shadow a more experienced employee does not ensure that the best learning is being passed along in the most effective way. Training or observation “by itself” will not drive tangible change or lasting business results. In fact, after measuring over 800 training programs, we know that only 1-in-5 people will change their behavior and performance on-the-job from training alone. For training to work, you need careful planning and structure.
4 Critical Factors of Effective On-the-job training
Profile of Success
What makes someone successful in the role? Define what would constitute undeniably high performance and then look carefully at your star performers to define what they do – their responsibilities, their activities, their results. What competencies do they demonstrate that account for their job proficiency and high performance? These, then, are the competencies toward which you need to train, practice, coach, measure, and reinforce.
More than Exposure
It is not enough to simply expose a learner to the job. You need to create opportunities for hands-on learning and feedback. The learner needs to experience the actual challenges of the job and absorb how to perform required tasks reliably. Provide frequent and relevant opportunities to use real work and to get real work done while learning.
Proof of Capability
Is the learner competent to complete the job activities at the required level of proficiency? This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of performance and accountability.
The learner needs to perform the job consistently at an acceptable level. This is a key aspect of their ongoing performance management. Without metrics, how can you know if more training or coaching is needed?
The only way to ensure that participants learn the skills and knowledge is to require them to demonstrate proficiency when it counts. Then as the learner demonstrates performance, they can opt out of practice on a specific competency and progress to the next level.
The Bottom Line
We know that training “by itself” will not drive tangible behavior change or lasting business results. Be sure you plan to train to the right competencies, provide meaningful opportunities for learning, and measure accountability for execution.
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