On the Job Training: An Idea Whose Time Has Come Again?

In his great On the Job Training (OJT) piece, Elliot Masie encourages companies to once again look to OJT as a vital part of training an efficient workforce. Indeed, in today’s challenging economy, when job responsibilities are being combined into new or hybrid positions and employees are expected to tackle more responsibility and new duties at a rapid pace, it seems imperative that OJT once again takes center stage.

So, how as an organization do you do that? How do you move beyond the basics of a day or two of orientation and then the inevitable initiation by fire? How do you bring learning theory and best practices to OJT, and empower the staffers involved to teach? How do you help employees learn their jobs in a dynamic, useful manner?

One step in the right direction is to legitimatize OJT at the senior level, and require the actual management of the process as you would any other job function. For that to work, you need to build OJT into job descriptions, work plans, and yearly reviews. Another is to treat it as true ongoing education; use multiple mediums, create learning objectives, and evaluate your practices to create and implement a strategy to support a workforce from the beginning of their employment and as they progress through the ranks.

OJT does not stop once someone “knows your organization and how things work,” but needs to continue as an employee’s position changes. This should include management and supervisory skills, in addition to the “house keeping” duties all managers have. If an employee has never been in that type of position before, part of their OJT at that level should address those skills and techniques.

What does OJT look like in your organization? Is it formalized, or simply up to the individual hiring manager to do as they see fit?

We would love to hear examples of what’s working and not working for organizations, and any OJT challenges you are currently facing. The call for an innovative and creative workforce has been made, but part of securing one will be providing ample OJT.

Leave a Reply