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Structured On-the-Job Training

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Based on 20 years of research and development in a range of organizations
This revised and expanded edition of a classic text provides a comprehensive guide to understanding, developing, and using structured on-the-job training in a variety of training situations and organizational contexts. Jacobs defines S-OJT and provides a rationale based on the need to develop high levels of employee competence, or expertise, in the workplace. He then describes a six-step process used to design and implement S-OJT programs. The emphasis here is how S-OJT can be used for managerial training, technical training, and awareness training. The chapters in the final section describe how S-OJT has been used to achieve organizational and societal goals. Included in this section are discussions regarding S-OJT as an organizational change strategy, quality management, cross-cultural aspects, and workforce development.

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Chapter 1 The Challenge of Developing Employee Expertise

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4

Meeting the Demand for Employee Expertise

training. In fact, training helps ensure that employees can do what the organization asks of them. Thus, training is ultimately about the issue of developing high levels of employee competence, or expertise.

Expertise is what experts know and can do. Experts are the individuals who are the most capable in specific areas of human endeavor. History has seen a great variety of experts: nomadic hunters who fashioned hunting tools from pieces of flint; mathematicians who planned the Egyptian pyramids; Renaissance artists who represented three dimensions in their paintings; eighteenth-century craftsmen who manufactured precision machine tools; managers today who devise strategic plans to guide the future of their organizations.

Without the expertise of skilled persons, it is unlikely that our civilization could have advanced in the way it has over the millennium.

While expertise has been important for human progress, it is particularly important in contemporary organizations.

 

Chapter 2 A System View of Structured On-the-Job Training

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Meeting the Demand for Employee Expertise

are driven by challenges of a different sort. Today, managers must find ways of combating the effects of changing market demands, advanced technologies, and lowering production and service delivery costs.

Interest in structured on-the-job training can be confirmed by the references to it in the professional literature and its recognitions. For instance, recent texts on the topic include Walter (2002); Sisson (2001); Lawson (1997); Pike,

Solem, and Arch (2000); Rothwell and Kazanas (1994); and

Ramsey (1993). Semb, Ellis, Fitch, Parchman, and Irick

(1995) present a model of how to conduct on-the-job training and assessed practices aboard Navy ships. Jacobs (2002) describes a series of case studies that show how practitioners from various national and international organizations have implemented planned training programs on the job. Jacobs

(2001) edited a monograph in which authors described a range of theoretical and practical issues related to planned training on the job.

 

Chapter 3 Training and Learning in the Work Setting

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Training and Learning in the Work Setting

45

TABLE 3.2. Ways of Learning Information in the Work Setting

STRUCTURED

UNSTRUCTURED

Self-Directed

Discovery

Coaching

On-the-Job

Training

Employee learns by doing, with limited information intentionally placed in the work setting to guide learning.

Employee must

figure out each part of the work without any assistance.

False assumptions and errors are the result.

Employee learns by working alongside or nearby an experienced employee, who seldom knows exactly how or when to intervene as the work is performed.

Employee is trained by an experienced employee, whose experience as a trainer is likely to be limited and whose understanding of the work may also be questionable.

Training content, methods, and outcomes vary across employees trained.

Employee learns while doing, using the information engineered into the work setting to guide learning.

Employee can trust the system to help make the learning easier and reduce frustration.

Employee learns by doing alongside or nearby an experienced employee, who uses systematic knowledge of the work to know when and how to intervene. Coaching outcomes are relatively predictable.

 

Chapter 4 Deciding Whether to Use Structured On-the-Job Training

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Structured On-the-Job Training Process

a work process can be used in combination with off-the-job training programs. S-OJT is seldom used in isolation of other training experiences.

Single Training Program

Possibly the most common way of using S-OJT is as a single training program that addresses a specific unit of work. In this way, S-OJT modules are often used strategically. That is, trainees receive training precisely at the time when they need to learn the information.

For example, most employee grievances in the financial services division of a large insurance company were directed at newly promoted supervisors. The grievance process is time-consuming, disruptive, and costly to the organization.

Employees’ reasons for initiating grievances vary, but a performance analysis showed that many grievances were the result of supervisors’ attempts to give performance feedback to subordinate employees.

To address the cost of grievances, giving subordinate feedback was removed from the existing managerial training program and then converted to an S-OJT module. Experienced supervisors, who were recognized for their ability to give effective feedback to subordinate employees, were asked to conduct the S-OJT. Newly promoted supervisors were assigned to an experienced supervisor to receive training on this topic. The results showed that trainees were better able to demonstrate the performance feedback process after the S-OJT than trainees had been able after the classroom based managerial.

 

Chapter 5 Analyzing the Work to Be Learned

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S-OJT remains on specific components of jobs and not on entire jobs.

Many other training approaches share this same emphasis. However, emphasizing specific units of work is even more pronounced for S-OJT than it is for these other approaches. Most off-the-job training programs address several units of work or broad topics of information, perhaps to make the time spent away from the job seem worthwhile. In contrast, S-OJT focuses only on a strictly limited set of related work at a time.

The notion that work is composed of specific units is associated with traditional understandings of technical-skilled work. That is, jobs have units of work that are mutually exclusive from other units of work. This understanding about the nature of jobs remains central even in the flexible work environments of the global economy. As the boundaries between jobs have become less distinct, units of work have become the focus. Jobs are less isolated from one another today, so that each unit of work is not necessarily a small operation that has limited meaning but an effort that results in a performance outcome. Thus, jobs are likely to have more diversity and complexity (Swanson, 2002).

 

Chapter 6 Selecting, Training, and Managing Employees to Deliver Structured On-the-Job Training

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job (Kondrasuk, 1979). S-OJT trainers should have basic requirements in two areas: They should have adequate competence in the unit of work that comprises the content of the training, and they should have adequate competence as a trainer.

If trainers do not meet the requirements in both areas, the effectiveness and efficiency of the training are likely at risk. However well the other steps of the S-OJT process have been performed, much of the success of S-OJT—or any training program, for that matter—depends on the trainer’s having the right skills (Johnson & Leach, 2001; Powers, 1992).

This view does not mean that the number of employees whom you can involve as trainers is limited. Indeed, many more employees than what might be expected can be involved as S-OJT trainers. The issue is one of using the right employees in each situation.

SELECTING, TRAINING,

AND MANAGING TRAINERS

Traditionally, those who have delivered OJT have been supervisors or certain front-line employees, such as lead persons, who are recognized as experts. This expectation continues in many organizations today (Broadwell, 1986).

 

Chapter 7 Preparing the Structured On-the-Job Training Modules

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more comprehensive and more self-contained than a traditional lesson plan.

In practice, S-OJT modules are the documents that trainers and trainees have in hand during the training process. As explained in Chapters 8 and 9, trainers use the modules as they get ready to deliver the training, as reference when they deliver the training, and as they rate the performance of trainees after training. Trainees receive a slightly modified version of the modules so that they can preview the training content and objectives before training, follow the trainer during training, and review what they are expected to perform after training. When S-OJT modules are used in these ways, they play an important role in ensuring the success of training.

Module Components

Most S-OJT modules include the following basic components:

Title

The title presents the content of the module in explicit terms. To promote consistency and clarity, the module title should follow directly from the unit of work or the information on which the training content is based.

 

Chapter 8 Getting Ready to Deliver Structured On-the-Job Training

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appropriate to the learning that trainees should experience.

In other words, training events ensure that trainers use the most effective external activities to bring about the most predictable internal events (Gagne et al., 1988).

Today, when companies seek a standard way of delivering OJT, most adopt some variation of the four-step method as originally proposed by Allen during World War I and further refined as part of the Training within Industry (TWI) effort during World War II. The four steps are logical, easy to remember, and effective (Dooley, 1945). Yet, by their very nature of the four steps, they tend to reinforce the notion that OJT is restricted to the learning of hands-on, technical information. Because the view of human competence is expanding in organizations, the training events should be amended in some essential ways.

Social Learning Theory

At first glance, the five training events may seem to be based more on commonsense logic than on anything else. In fact, they are based on widely accepted principles of social learning theory. Social learning theory assumes that, when individuals are exposed to a model, the stimuli that they receive from the model is coded and retained by them in order to guide the performance of the modeled response (Bandura,

 

Chapter 9 Delivering Managerial, Technical, and Awareness Training

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individual events in order to accommodate the needs of particular trainees. Others have learned how to blend the middle three training events—presentation, response, and feedback—into a seamless, repeating cycle of trainer behavior. Such a blending helps make the training session like an easygoing but still purposeful social interaction between two individuals, not a stiff formal presentation. It should be emphasized that one moves toward such a level of trainer ability only with a thorough prior understanding of the training events.

Finally, trainers must use effective communication skills. From the beginning of the training session, the trainer should maintain eye contact with the trainee, speak clearly and distinctly, use humor appropriately and only when related to the training, and display positive nonverbal messages. Any trainer should have learned these skills as part of his or her own training and development program.

1. PREPARE THE TRAINEE

 

Chapter 10 Evaluating and Troubleshooting Structured On-the-Job Training Programs

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should also be asked about the organizational system in which the training system resides.

Figure 10.1 presents a list of questions related to system components and organizational context. It is common in evaluation to establish desired performance standards for each question and then to compare actual performance with standards. In that way, the value and worth of each component and of the entire system as a whole can be determined.

An evaluation that asks these questions will be conducted by a team of employees who are knowledgeable in the use of evaluation methods, perhaps with assistance from outside consultants.

The remainder of this section discusses the evaluation questions outlined in Figure 10.1. Where appropriate, additional information from experience is provided. The discussion begins with training outputs, since these are often most critical when evaluating systems. It makes no sense to ask, say, whether the training was conducted properly if the training objectives had been met. In a truly effective system, both questions should be answered affirmatively.

 

Chapter 11 Organizational Change and Structured On-the-Job Training

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Chapter 11

Organizational Change and

Structured On-the-Job Training

The global economy has brought about many challenges for organizations, regardless of location. Consider the small manufacturing firms that line the freeway that travels from downtown Taipei to the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport. Many of them display banners outside their buildings proudly announcing that they are ISO 9002 certified. Because of that designation, these companies are presumed to compete on an equal footing with other companies around the world, despite their relatively ramshackle outward appearance. At the same time, these companies share the same challenges of all companies in the global economy. To remain competitive and survive, they must undergo change on a continuous basis.

S-OJT is uniquely suited to facilitate planned organizational change. Consider that most organizational change efforts bring with it changes in the abilities of employees. That is, when organizational change occurs, employees invariably need to be aware of new information, be able to perform their current work better, or be able to perform new work.

 

Chapter 12 Global Perspective of Structured On-the-Job Training

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Chapter 12

Global Perspective of

Structured On-the-Job Training

Most perspectives of S-OJT come from a North American tradition of human learning and performance. However, that does not represent all the perspectives. This chapter describes a global perspective of S-OJT.* This information seems important especially since S-OJT places unique demands on trainers and trainees compared to other training approaches. In addition, more and more global organizations use S-OJT, and their use reflects the particular business needs and cultures of their settings. This chapter reviews:

cross-cultural aspects of S-OJT and

global uses of S-OJT.

CROSS-CULTURAL ASPECTS OF S-OJT

Recently, an automotive parts supplier in the midwestern

United States adopted S-OJT to train new employees on how to sew fabric seat covers, headliners, and other interior

*The author wishes to thank A. Ahad Osman-Gani, professor of international human resource management and development, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, for his assistance in preparing this chapter.

 

Chapter 13 Workforce Development and Structured On-the-Job Training

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WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

The preceding chapters have discussed the proven training efficiency and training effectiveness of S-OJT. This conclusion is based on the case studies that report how it helped achieve important organizational outcomes. The efficiency and effectiveness of S-OJT have also come to the attention of those who seek to achieve societal outcomes within the context of workforce development. Workforce development has broader goals than to improve organizational performance, though that goal certainly falls within its scope of the interest.

Among the challenges of the global economy is the need for societies to prepare individuals more systematically to enter careers, to upgrade their knowledge and skills continuously, and to retrain them for new careers when necessary.

No one organization can address these challenges alone. Instead, these challenges require the cooperation of both public and private resources.

Workforce development is the process of coordinating school, agency, and organization-based training and education programs such that they provide the opportunity for individuals to realize a sustainable livelihood and organizations to compete better in the global marketplace (Jacobs &

 

Chapter 14 Change Management Process and Issues in Using Structured On-the-Job Training

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Entering and contracting

Diagnosing the pilot area

Implementing the pilot study

Evaluating and revising

FIGURE 14.1. S-OJT Change Management Process

perspective, S-OJT is likely to be short-lived (Jacobs & RussEft, 2001).

Figure 14.1, based on a model of organization development by Cummings and Worley (2001), shows the change management process for S-OJT. The process essentially treats the S-OJT as a pilot project having a starting point and ending point and a goal of institutionalizing the use of S-OJT in the long term. The change management process seems appropriate for use regardless of whether the S-OJT is introduced by an internal employee, most likely the HRD manager on behalf of senior management, or an external consultant. Either party can be considered part of the team, responsible for facilitating the improvement process in the organization. The change management process has four steps: entering and contracting, diagnosing the pilot area, implementing the pilot study, and evaluating and revising.

 

Chapter 15 Conclusion: Developing a Culture of Expertise

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Chapter 15

Conclusion: Developing a

Culture of Expertise

At this point, the reader should understand the foundations of S-OJT, as well as know the S-OJT process. Finally, the reader should know the various ways to use S-OJT. This chapter concludes the book with an appeal for the development of a culture of expertise in organizations and society.

S-OJT would likely play a major role in the development of such a culture.

A CULTURE OF EXPERTISE

While the primary aim of this book has been to provide a practical guide to S-OJT, the reader should also take away more than this information alone. As the title makes clear, the underlying rationale for the use of S-OJT is the need to develop individuals to the highest level of competence possible in a way that is both efficient and effective. Often, this means helping individuals develop the abilities of experts.

Thus, the reader should begin to appreciate that expertise is not only a goal for individuals and organizations but also a goal for societies.

 

A: Excerpts from the Training within Industry Report Describing the Lens Grinder Study

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248 Appendices

summer there had been much discussion of shortages in particular lines of skilled polishers for government arsenals and navy yards. This problem was presented to the TWI Directors and on August 28, 1940, they called to a conference on lens-grinding and precision instruments representatives of

Sperry Gyroscope Corporation, Leeds & Northrup, Bausch and Lomb, General Electric Company, Eastman Kodak Company, who met with staff members of the National Defense

Commission and representatives of Army and Navy Ordnance and Frankford Arsenal.

As a result of this conference, TWI arranged to borrow

M. J. Kane from American Telephone and Telegraph to make plant visits and write the material in training form.

The original problem in the lens-grinding field was to assist government arsenals and navy yards to get 350 properly qualified lens grinders. It was considered that a qualified learner did well to master the art of lens-grinding in five years. Upon studying the problem, it was found that 20 jobs are really included in lens-grinding. It had been assumed that a lens-grinder must be able to perform all 20 jobs. In the emergency, the specific solution recommended was to upgrade workers then employed on precision optical work to the most highly skilled jobs, and to break in new people on just one of the simplest jobs. This required production specifications and intensive training.

 

B: S-OJT Trainer Evaluation Form

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262 Appendices

Training materials sent to trainee with instructions

1

Training materials Training materials made available incomplete or during training parts missing

2

3

Location reserved for training

1

Location identified Location uncertain during training or not specified

2

3

Trainee’s manager informed of the specific time and location

1

Trainee’s manager Trainee’s manager aware that the unaware of the training would training occur

2

3

Prepare the Trainee

Purpose and rationale of the training clearly presented

1

Purpose and

Purpose and rationale of the rationale of the training presented training not presented

2

3

Trainee prerequisites clearly presented and confirmed

1

Trainee prerequisites presented and confirmed

2

Trainee prerequisites omitted or in error

3

General safety and General safety and General safety and quality requirequality requirequality requirements ments clearly ments presented omitted or in error presented

1

2

3

How the training will be done clearly presented

1

How the training will be done presented

2

How the training will be done omitted or in error

 

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