Work experience is not the same as learning. We often hear of Human Resource Managers using “on-the-job training” as a preferred training approach. But what does it really mean? Is it just experience of doing a job or task?
Learning on-the-job definition
On-the-job training (OJT) is a form of training taking place in a normal working situation Source
Experience is not the same as learning
We do learn from experiences, but is the “learning” that the individual gets and interprets what the manager or leader wants?
Doing a new task or activity without direct support, training or guidance can be painful for the “learner” and frustrating for the leader or manager. Often managers believe they have given guidance, but fail to follow a basic coaching or training process which can make all the difference and accelerate the learning process.
If the task is a skill or activity based one, the old skills training approach of:
- I show you fast (normal job speed)
- I show you slow (what and how)
- You do it with me (let me see what you got & if I need to repeat the first 2 steps)
- Now off you go (when I have seen you be successful, and you agree you are ok, I leave you to it, but come back if you are not sure)
Is a powerful, but basic training technique that many of us forget to do.
Learning is something that individuals achieve as the result of an experience, not something we do TO people. If we want our people to learn specific things, then relying on “trial and error” is not an effective method for either party. We need to train them.
What is on-the-job learning?
This is where learning a new skill or process happens within the normal work environment. It is the place and time that the training or learning activity occurs, not the learning process. This is where many managers make mistakes. They assume that on-the-job learning is doing a new task without support or often detailed guidance, almost as though they expect people to learn through osmosis!
On-the-job learning is not a short cut, or a cost cutting method, but a different vehicle for developing and growing people and their skills. It is training that takes place in the workplace, but training none the less.
On-the-job learning can take longer
It is often assumed that training on-the-job is quicker (and cheaper) than training off-the-job. This is often not the case. Training on-the-job can take longer due to “business as usual” or other work place disturbances, telephone, email, noise, distractions from other people. Equally some think it is cheaper, but when you factor in the cost of a manager coaching (or training) one-on-one, the reduction in productivity of the individual and manager, the hidden costs can be greater than some off-the-job solutions.
Learning takes time and costs. so you either train properly and manage the cost. Or you do not plan the training, the learning happens organically and you have no idea how much it really cost you!
What is widely recognised is that on-the-job training, when done well, provides both the task and the context, and the learning achieved is often more powerful than other approaches.
Done well on-the-job training and the resulting learning is a great strategy – done badly (or in a lazy way) and the learning is not what you want (or expect) and that in itself can cause costly rework, delays and demotivate people!
Some cite the 70:20:10 as a model to align on and off the job training activity to.
Work experience is not the same as learning, so please do not treat it as such!