On The Job Training – Why

Production Floor - Food Processor
The production floor of a Food Processor

We asked hundreds of clients, and potential clients what their preferred method of on the job training was. We weren’t surprised by their answers.

Almost all responded with one of two answers; Job Shadowing, or The Buddy System.  We see both these preferences as one in the same. The problem, as we see it, is having  one employee, who we hope knows all the subtleties of the task, transfers all the skills, knowledge, and experience to the new employee. What’s more likely to happen is this. The employee in the trainer role will pass on their understanding of the performance expectations they think you have for the position. That’s a lot of supposition, on your part, and theirs.

The role of the new employee is to mimic their understanding of what the trainer is doing when performing the task. If they want to impress the trainer, or you, they will do exactly what they were shown. They will, in fact, be perpetuating the performance the trainer demonstrated, whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad.

For most organizations, it’s not what they wanted, but it’s what they get.

We took a different approach. We developed a Fixed Delivery – Variable Process system for On The Job Training. This brought two levels of structure to On The Job Training. Structure in design (the Fixed Delivery) and structure in the delivery (the  Variable Content.) This brings two levels of structure to every On The Job Training event. Every trainer uses the same approach (Fixed Delivery) for the design of the training event. Then the training event is  to delivered  based on the standard work instruction for the task (Variable Content.)

We then tested the results with some trusted clients, who used the system extensively, one continuously for 15 years,  before we talked to other clients and potential clients about building a team of internal SME on the job trainers. We have some of those comments collected here.