On-the-Job Training

On-the-Job Training

Techniques and Options

The best job training happens at work.  On the job training (OJT) teaches skills, knowledge and competencies that are needed to perform a specific job within the workplace and work environment.

It involves using our in house ‘experts’ or carefully chosen external people as teachers or coaches to help our employees develop capability they need now and in the future.  Internal job training and employee development bring a special plus. Unlike external training, examples, terminology, and opportunities reflect our culture, environment, and needs of our workplace.

Here are your 7 best opportunities and methods for providing on-the-job training to your team.


A mentoring relationship is a win-win for all parties: the employee who seeks a mentor, the mentor, and for our business. It gives less experienced employees valuable feedback, insight and support, while passing down wisdom and institutional knowledge.

Here’s a brief look at eight key tasks for the mentor to perform:

Develop and manage the mentoring relationship. Initially, getting to know each other and assessing the employee’s strengths weaknesses and the best pathways for development. It involves regular meetings, setting objectives and making sure the relationship is a comfortable and productive one. Over time, it means working to build trust, set goals and keep the mentoring relationship on track.

Sponsor.  Opening doors and advocating for the mentee allowing her/him to develop new skills and gain meaningful visibility.  You can create and seek new opportunities for her/him and connect her/him with people in your network.

Survey the environment.  Mentors keep a watchful eye on the horizon, looking for both threatening organizational forces and positive opportunities. They help the mentee manage their way through organisational politics, people taking an adversarial position relative to the mentee, finding shortcuts through the system, avoiding low-visibility or no-win assignments and finding high-visibility or win-win assignments.

Guide and counsel. The mentor may serve as a confidant, sounding-board and personal advisor to the mentee, especially as the relationship grows deeper over time. They may help their mentee understand conflict or explore ways to deal with problems.  They can also warn their mentee about behavior that is a poor fit with organizational culture.

Teach.  Many mentors enjoy the teaching aspects of mentoring, which mean not only imparting their knowledge but also sharing their experiences and recommending assignments.

Model.  Just while observing their mentor, mentees pick up many things: ethics, values and standards; style, beliefs and attitudes; methods and procedures. They are likely to follow your lead, adapt your approach to their own style, and build confidence through their affiliation with you.  Mentors need to be keenly aware of their own behavior.

Motivate and inspire Mentors support, validate and encourage their mentees. When they help their mentees link their own goals, values and emotions to our agenda, they become more engaged in their work and in their own development.

Each mentoring situation is different, and mentors need to shift their role depending on the person and their goals.  For example, if the mentor is mentoring an up-and-coming project manager who will be moving on to another assignment soon, their focus may stay on near-term challenges and preparation for the next step.  Another mentee may be need help navigating the organization and building his career, so sponsoring and protecting may be your focus.

Mentoring is a shared job.  The mentor isn’t solely responsible for creating a successful mentoring relationship.  The person being mentored needs to be flexible, honest, open and receptive to feedback and insight. He or she needs to be willing and able to take action in pursuit of goals, to invest in learning and to take steps toward needed change. The mentee also needs to be willing to give you feedback and talk about what is or isn’t working well in the relationship.

Periodic In-House Training from Internal or External Expert Resources

If you’re looking for a way to develop your team that involves small group learning from an appropriate  ‘expert’ (could be an external consultant, or internal manager or HR team person) internal job training is an effective way to offer training and build the team at the same time.

Employee development, offered in brief sessions, internally, on a regular basis, allows you to do job training with a consultant or internal provider who knows your goals, language, culture, and workplace norms.  These job training sessions also build the team and help employees develop conversations about improvement, growth, and change.

Implement a Special Topic Discussion Group at work

Looking for an easy way to share information for employee development at work?  Identify some topics the team would benefit from developing their knowledge around. Form a Special Topic Discussion Group in which a group of employees, voluntarily, either individually researches the subject or reads the same educational material (report, analysis, book or article etc.  Follow the reading with a scheduled discussion meeting to double the impact of the material and agree its implications for the way you do things, including action points.

Ask one employee, who you particularly want to develop, to lead the discussion.  Ask a second employee to lead the discussion about the relevance of the book’s teachings to your organization.  You’ll magnify employee development with Special Topic Discussion Group.

Require Employees Who Attend External Training to Pass on Their Learning

When an employee attends an external seminar, training session, or conference, establish a standard requirement that the employee is expected to magnify the experience for the company by training other employees.  This is effective employee development because it introduces new ideas to your organization.

It is cost-effective in that the attending employee provides employee development for other employees.  These presentations promote employee development, the promulgation of new ideas, and extend job training knowledge.

The requirement also develops the skills of the employee who attended the external event.  Not only does it require that they distill the learning and think about its application in the workplace but also he or she practices sharing ideas and presenting – both significant skills for employee development.

Hold Learning Lunches

Lunch and learns, as they are frequently called, are another form of employee development, available internally.  For example, if there is a new development in the area of health and safety legislation or market research, competitor initiative etc.  invite everyone to a ‘Lunch and Learn’ where someone, expert in this area, will make a short presentation followed by a general discussion. These types of sessions are particularly good where your team needs to develop an agreed plan for reacting to some change or where you are implementing new systems and processes. You can also use Lunch and Learns to spotlight projects and initiatives within the company or to enhance employee knowledge of your field, your industry, your competition or your customers.

Job Shadowing

Job Shadowing allows an employee to learn about and benefit from brief stints of job training while the employee observes and participates in the work of another employee.  Job shadowing, whether for a day, a month, or some other period of specified time, is a little used form of employee development.  Job shadowing can provide job training as well.  Job shadowing is also an excellent approach to the job training of employees who provide back up for jobs or who you are wishing to develop into roles.  Job shadowing is also perfect for an employee with an temporary assignment resulting from an employee departure.

Job shadowing is a type of on-the-job employee job training in which a new employee or an employee desiring to become familiar with a job, follows and observes a trained and experienced employee.  Job shadowing is an effective form of job training for certain jobs.

Job shadowing allows the shadow to gain comprehensive knowledge about what an ‘expert’ who holds a particular job does in that job every day.  Job shadowing provides a far richer experience than reading a job description or doing an informational interview during which an employee describes his or her work.  Job shadowing allows the observer to see and understand the nuances of a particular job.

Who Participates in Job Shadowing?

Job shadowing is effective when an organization is inducting a new employee and when longer term employees want to learn about different jobs in the company.  Job shadowing is also effective for high potential employees aspiring to step into a larger role because it allows them to find out what happens in a particular job day-by-day.

Job shadowing is effective for any job in which the “seeing” is more graphic than the “telling,” or when the seeing is an important component of the learning. When job shadowing, the individual sees the actual performance of the job in action.  But, in job shadowing, the participant also sees and experiences the nuances of how the service is provided or the job performed.

The participant experiences the employee’s approach, the interpersonal interaction required, the steps and actions necessary, and the components needed to effectively perform the job that the employee might never think to mention.

Benefits of Job Shadowing
  • Allows an employee to see and then, demonstrate and practice job skills in action;
  • Helps an employee develop relationships with current employees, customers, and vendors;
  • Allows current employees to gain broader and deeper knowledge about a variety of jobs and functions in the company.
  • Provides an alternative when lateral moves, transfers and promotions are not currently available to assist in employee development.
  • Serves as a trial when an employee is unsure about whether to accept a transfer or promotion.
  • Gives an employee insight into the challenges offered by different jobs. This insight and knowledge helps the employee explore potential career paths within the company.
Provide Internet, Intranet, and Webinar Training Classes and Resources

Myriad internet resources, on just about any job training topic that you can imagine, are available online.  Providers, from universities to consulting companies, are vying for your employee job training dollars online.  You will invest time in vetting providers, but online training is a significant employee job training resource today – provided at work.  From webinars to speakers to courses presented via telephone, employees or groups of employees can access online job training.