Analysis of on the job training
According to Peter Drucker (1999) ‘the most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution, whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity’; he considered the human resource as being the lifeblood of any successful organization which as a result becomes of prime importance that such asset is cared and well managed. One way through which this can be done is training. Training of employees is an important factor if the organization wants to, obviously, achieves its objectives in an effective and efficient manner. Before introducing the concept of training Herschel Walker quoted:
“If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.”
Herschel Walker (reference year needed)
Training is defined by Armstrong (2001) as ‘a formal and systematic modification of behavior through learning which occurs as a result of education, instruction, and development and planned experience.’ On his side, Noe (2002) view training as a planned effort by a company to facilitate employees’ learning of job related competencies. Bentley (1990, p.25) stated that the role of training may be seen as ‘ensuring that the organization has the people with the correct mix of attributes, through providing appropriate learning opportunities and motivating people to learn, and thus enabling them to perform to the highest level of quality and service.’
2.1 The effectiveness of training
Effective training program helps organization to achieve their objectives. General objectives of training activities are; orienting new employees to the organization and their job, helping employees perform their current jobs well, helping employees’ quality for future jobs, keep employee informed of changes within the organization, and providing opportunities for personal development. (Drummond, 1989:165)
Sales and Cannon (2001) pointed out that both theory and practice have improved dramatically training effectiveness. Kirckpatrict (1996) further stated that effectiveness is a concept that consists of four levels: satisfaction, learning results, job behavior and organizational benefits. The effectiveness of training is not only caused by training characteristics but is also influenced by the trainee’s characteristics and organization’s characteristics. The influence of the supervisor (and sometimes the influence of colleagues) on the effectiveness of training was evident in the work of Brinkerhoft and Montesino et al. (1995).
Furthermore, Tracey et al. (2001) suggest that for any training program to be considered as effective, trainees have to learn the training content and then apply such learning in the workplace; thus any training program can be conceptualized as being composed of training acquisition and transfer of training.
Walter (1998) further alleged that an effective and efficient on-the-job training program is vital for developing the highly skilled employees needed for a business’s success. Jacobs (2003) lay emphasis that training is more effective when trainees possess the pre requisite knowledge, skills and readiness, including technical background, comfort with the use of tools and equipment, literacy, and previous work experience.
2.2 Types of training
With reference to Dessler (2000) and Treven & Mulej (2000), the most popular training methods used by organizations can be categorized by either:
Off – the – job training, or,
On – the – job training.
Off the job training
Off – the – job training is defined by Rothwell and Kazanas (1994) as any type of training that is not performed on the job, that is, training which take place in a classroom and which is designed to train groups of trainees rather than individual. Lewis and Trevitt (1994) stated that off – the – job training offers learning opportunity through attendance at training fora away from the job or workplace.
There are several types of off – the – job training and De Cenzo and Robbins (1996) summarized them as follows:
Lectures design to communicate specific interpersonal, technical or problem solving skills.
Video and films
Using various media productions to demonstrate specialized skills that are not easily presented by other training methods.
Training that occurs by actually performing the work ; it may include case analysis, experiential exercise, role playing, or group decision making.
Computer base training
Simulating the work environment by programming a computer to some of the realities of the job.
Training on actual equipments used on the job, but conducted away from the actual work setting.
Condensing training materials into highly organized, logical sequences.
Jacobs (2003, p.26) pointed put that off the job training often do not have the desired relevance.
2.3 Definition of On-the-job training (OJT)
On the job training was claimed to be ‘the most common, the most widely accepted and the most necessary method of training employees in the skills essential for acceptance performance.’ (Tracey 1971, p.30, reported by S. Jones 1988, p.11) . Levine (1997, p.1) simply stated that OJT is about ‘two people working closely together so that one person can learn from the other.’
On his side, Campbell (1990,p.9) has seen on the job training as given in an employee’s normal work situation, as being designed to change the knowledge, attitude and ski behavior patterns directly appropriate to the performance of a given task or job.
In addition to, Siele (1988, p.73) considered on the job training as ‘an informal type of training given at the employee’s work place, where the trainer plays the role of the immediate supervisor of the employees. The purpose is to improve the employee’s working skills, efficiency and productivity.’ He emphasizes that on the job training supplements all other forms of training with the additional advantage of being provided to more people in any given year than it is possible at training institutions.
In general, OJT refers to a form of training that occurs at the workplace during the performance of a job rather than in a classroom setting (Jacobs & Jones, 1995; Rothwell & Kazanas, 1994). This form of training OJT is the most widely used method of delivering training for a novice employee by an experienced employee today and is one of the most important components of learning in the work place. (Jacobs & Jones, 1995; Rothwell & Kazanas, 1990)
Types of on the job training
OJT as a form of individualized, according to Jacobs (2003), training can be designed and delivered using two basic approaches:
According to some experts, the unstructured OJT is used frequently in most organizations whereas the structured OJT is the most recent application of OJT (Hamilton and Hamilton et al., 1997).
Unstructured On-the-job training
Rothwell (1997, p.5) defined unstructured OJT as an ‘approach in which learners are thrown into the work and the training is based on daily work event rather than the learner/worker needs.’ Jacobs and Jones (1995) indicated that unstructured OJT occurs when trainees acquire job knowledge and skills from impromptu explanations or demonstrations but others, trial and error efforts, self-motivated reading, or simply by imitating the behavior of others. Rothwell and Kazanas (1994) also acknowledged the fact that unstructured OJT are OJT that is not planned or logically organized; training and learning takes place by trainees performing the work or by watching others performing.
However, unstructured OJT is accompanied by loads of critic. Levine (1997, p.1) argued that as an unstructured system, no criteria are established for the quality of training, nor are records of the training maintained. Filipczak (1993, p.30) added that unstructured OJT “…does not enforce common work standard. It does not ensure the trainee will perform the way the trainer says they should be done. It allows the trainee to pick up the trainer’s bad habits along with his good ones.” Martin Broadwell confirms that ‘ninety five percent of all training that is done on the job is done so poorly that the job suffers measurable’ (Filipczak 1993, p.30). According to several studies conducted by Jacobs and Jones (1995), unstructured OJT leads to increased error rates, lower productivity and decreased training efficiency.
Jacobs and Jones (1995) summarized the following problems associated with unstructured OJT as follows:
The desired skill level is rarely achieved that is there is a lack of measurable standards;
The training content is often inaccurate or incomplete;
Experience employees use different methods each time they conduct training, in other words, there is a lack of standardized training approach;
Furthermore, experience employees are seldom able to communicate what they know in a way that others can understand;
Many employees fear that sharing their knowledge and skills will reduce their own statues as experts.
On the whole, just as OJT experts (Hamilton and Hamilton et al., 1997) confirm that most of the OJT that takes place in businesses is unstructured, they agree that unstructured OJT is the least beneficial and least effective type of training. Johnson and Leach (2001) also supported the above statement of Hamilton and Hamilton et al. who viewed unstructured OJT as being often ineffective and inefficient as compared with structured OJT.
Structured On-the-Job Training
According to Stolovitch and Ngoa – Nguele (2001), structured OJT differs from unstructured OJT in that a systematic planning process is used to design and carry out the training. Lawson (1997) defined structured OJT as a ‘training which is planned and organized, one on one program designed to provide the employee with the knowledge and skills required to perform tasks entailed in the employee’s job.’ Furthermore, Jacobs (2003) view structured OJT as a planned process of developing competence on units of work by having an experienced employee train a novice employee at the work setting or a location that closed resembles the work setting. Baron (1997), acknowledged the fact that structured OJT provides the delivery of ‘training in an organized, sequential manner, with an eye toward becoming as efficient as possible.’ Also Nancy Chase (1997) contends the fact that structured OJT is inexpensive, quickly developed, takes place at the work site, and focuses on task that are directly related to the job.
In addition to, Walter (1996) added that structured OJT can increased quality of training, employee morale, and communication as well as decision making along with employees who are trained in new skills very quickly. Empirically, some researchers ( Bennett and Calvin, 2002; Jacobs and Osman Gani, 1999; Stolovitch and Ngoa – Ngule 2001) have reported that structured OJT has helped to make valuable contributions in term of increasing the productivity of an organization.
Jacobs and Jones (1995) proclaimed that structured OJT has the following main points:
As a planned process, structured OJT requires an investment of time and effort before it can be used. As a result, trainees should be able to learn the appropriate content and achieve the desired training objectives.
Structured OJT focuses on the task level of jobs and does not involve an entire job but rather just a small part of it.
Structured OJT should be delivered by an experienced employee with the qualifications to become a trainer, thus not every employee can necessarily become a trainer.
Structured OJT usually occurs at the job setting, although in some instances. It may occur near the job setting.
Many authors (Jacobs et al., 1999) have detailed the benefits of structured OJT and these benefits include reduced overall learning time, reduced overall training costs, greater flexibility to the needs of the individual worker, positive relationship building between novices and experienced workers/ superiors, higher transfer rates than those cited for classroom and other formal training, and perhaps most importantly, heightened new-worker confidence.
There are, generally, two distinct features of structured OJT compared with classroom training:
Firstly, DeSimone and Harris (1998) stated that a trainee has an immediate opportunity to use and practice what he or she has learned on the job and therefore a trainer can achieve learning objectives more efficiently.
Secondly, Jacobs (2003) affirmed that the transfer of learning is enhanced in structured OJT environment, especially in the match between the training setting and work setting; because the learning environment is the same as the work environment in structured OJT, a trainee is able to use the same equipments and tools that he or she is meant to use to perform his or her actual work.
other studies (Jacobs 1996; Jacobs et al.) have demonstrated the effectiveness and efficiency of using structured OJT compared with mainly off the job training and unstructured OJT in terms of financial benefits, high satisfaction rating, and fewer quality errors. In complement to, Burkett (2002) showed that employees who learn tasks through structured OJT make fewer quality errors. Lawson (1997) put forward that structured OJT is based on adult learning theories and on how and why people learn. Below is a brief overview about what is adult learning about:
Malcolm Knowles (1978, 1990) was the theorist who brought the concept of adult learning to a prominent position. Knowles (1990) contends that adults need to control their learning, as well as feel that what they learn has immediate utility, and is focused on issues that directly concern them; adults need to anticipate how they will use their learning, and to expect performance improvement to result from their learning. Knowles’s (1998) work was the most guiding one with its six principles of adult learning being summarized as follows:
Need to know – adults need to know why they should learn something, that is why they need to learn something and how it will benefit them.
Self concept – adults fight against others imposing their will on them, but having been conditioned through the national school system of a dependent learner, they need to be moved into a self directed learner where they are responsible for their own learning and the direction it takes.
Role of experience – adult’s experience should be used in their new learning and the technique should include ways to include the adult’s knowledge as a tool that they can draw upon and also provide engagement by acknowledging them for their experience.
Readiness to learn – adults seek out learning as a way to better cope with real life task and problems.
Orientation to learn – the new learning should clearly define how the new learning will apply to their life in some fashion.
Motivation to learn – internal motivators are important than the external motivators that adults may receive for more learning. These internal motivators can come in the form of increased job satisfaction, self esteem and quality of life.
In similar vein, Birkenholz (1999) asserts that adults with more education have a stronger tendency to participate in adult education activities than those who have less education since as people expand their knowledge base, they also increase awareness of what they do not know.
Furthermore, in complement to Knowles’s (1998) principles, Speck (1996) noted that the following important points of adult learning theory should be considered when professional development activities are designed for educators:
"Adults will commit to learning when the goals and objectives are considered realistic and important to them. Application in the 'real world' is important and relevant to the adult learner's personal and professional needs.
Adults want to be the origin of their own learning and will resist learning activities they believe are an attack on their competence. Thus, professional development needs to give participants some control over the what, who, how, why, when, and where of their learning.
Adult learners need to see that the professional development learning and their day-to-day activities are related and relevant.
Adult learners need direct, concrete experiences in which they apply the learning in real work.
Adult learning has ego involved. Professional development must be structured to provide support from peers and to reduce the fear of judgment during learning.
Adults need to receive feedback on how they are doing and the results of their efforts. Opportunities must be built into professional development activities that allow the learner to practice the learning and receive structured, helpful feedback.
Adults need to participate in small-group activities during the learning to move them beyond understanding to application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Small-group activities provide an opportunity to share, reflect, and generalize their learning experiences.
Adult learners come to learning with a wide range of previous experiences, knowledge, self-direction, interests, and competencies. This diversity must be accommodated in the professional development planning.
Transfer of learning for adults is not automatic and must be facilitated. Coaching and other kinds of follow-up support are needed to help adult learners transfer learning into daily practice so that it is sustained." (pp. 36-37)
Structured OJT typologies
Generally there are four commonly used types of OJT among which features:
Job instruction training
Job Instruction Training (JIT)
The JIT consists of four steps which were developed by Charles R.Allen to train shipbuilders during World War I (Sleight, 1993). Rothwell and Kazanas (1994) outlined the four steps in the JIT model as follows:
Step1 Preparation - showing and demonstrating what learners will do;
Step 2 Presentation – telling learners what they will performed and why;
Step 3 Application – allowing the trainee the opportunity to practice the skills;
Step 4 Inspection – checking the trainee’s work and providing feedback.
In addition to Rothwell and Kazanas (1994), Charles Allen (1919) further described in his book that these steps should always be carried out in the order given and that the purpose of step 1 is to get the learner ready to be instructed of step 2 to instruct him of step 3 to check up errors and of step 4 to give a final inspection of the instruction job.
However, Ford (1970) argues that the four step model is no longer enough; thus he added two other components – objectives and evaluation – recognizing that these components are implied by most of the expositions of Job Instruction Training. The amended diagram can be illustrated as follows:
According to Ford (1970, p.30), the first step is the determination of objectives which describes what the learner will be doing when demonstrating his achievement and how one will know when he is doing it.
Even though evaluation is listed as the final step in the model, it is a continual function. Ford (1970, p.33-34) laid much emphasis that throughout the learning situation, the instructor should reflect on and evaluate each element in terms of the objectives and also he further stated that evaluation is usually thought of as evaluating the student which in fact is to evaluate the entire learning process as well as a self evaluation of the instructor himself.
DeSimone and Harris (1998, p.144) define job rotation as an activity that involves a series of assignment to different positions or departments for a specified period of time. Wood (1995) added that job rotation is the systematic movement of employees from job to job within an organization, as a way to achieve various different human resources objectives such as: orienting new employees, preventing job boredom or burnout, reward employees, enhancing career development as well as exposing employees to diverse environments.
The basic objective of job rotation according to Weihrich and Koontz (2002) is to broaden the actual knowledge of managers or potential managers who are made to move through:
Non supervisory work;
Observation assignment where they observe what other managers do rather than actually managing the portfolios;
Assistant positions in some cases for brief periods in case of unforeseen absences or vacations of other managers.
Anon (2001) supported Weihrich and Kootz (2002) with the fact that job rotation provides the employee with an opportunity to get a better understanding of the overall company and provide the organization with a more flexible workforce. Jerris (1999) added that excellent job rotation program can minimize training costs while optimizing the impact on training, by making individual in a better position to be flexible, self-motivated, adaptable, innovative, eager to learn and able to communicate effectively.
According to Osborne (1996), at the start of job rotation, output may decrease temporarily implying that job rotation does not follow that job interest, productivity, flexibility and quality of life will improve, but rather these can be gained. DeSimone and Harris (1998) stated that within the job rotation training program, the trainee is evaluated by the trainer at each job, and at the end of training, the trainee’s evaluation are used as a means to decide in which department or job the trainee will work.
Jerns (1999) argued that the possible problems with the job rotation program is that it is costly since job rotation involves a great amount of management time which is spend on lower level employees; job rotation may also increase the work load and decrease the productivity for the rotating employee’s manager and for other employees.
Harris (1997) described coaching as an informal, unplanned training and development activities provided by supervisors and peers. Albers (1974) views OJT similar as coaching thus defining it as a conscious creation of an environment within which subordinates can learn to become better executives. On his part, Oladunni (1998, p.57) added that coaching is those managerial actions and behaviors specifically that focus on developing an employee so that he or she can perform at maximum compatibility.’ Oladunni (1998) further stresses that coaching maximizes the contribution of both the trainer and the trainee simultaneously and enables the coach to concentrate on other management functions.
According to Sullivan (1998) the role of the coach is to facilitate learning as well as guide learners toward the acquisition of new knowledge or upgrade their skills ; seek to influence learner attitudes be seeking as a role model or mentor.
Mentoring, on the other hand takes a more holistic approach and guides
the learner through broader aspects of the particular job (Cunningham, Dawes, &
Woods and Cortada (1998) view mentoring as a learning relationship in which an individual with knowledge shares that knowledge with his or her colleague. The mentor is usually a supervisor or manager and the intention of mentoring is to support the employees, help orient them to the job and work environment and “preparing the employee for increasing responsibility” (DeSimone and Harris, 1998, p.145)
Brennan and Little (1996) described the process of mentoring:
“In the first instance the mentor will be more pro active, supportive and encouraging, but in time the learner develops independence, confidence and autonomy. The mentor then needs to become more critical, challenging and confrontational, encouraging reflection. Effective and lasting learning takes place when learner experience a balance of challenge and support, confrontation and encouragement.”
Hooling and Resta (2001) support mentorship as a means to improve trainers own professional competency and belief through learning opportunities from trainees in mentoring.
Components of a successful Structured OJT
Jacobs (2003) held that a system view of structured OJT represents the interaction of several components, such as the training input, training process, the training outputs, and the organizational context. There is no best way to do structured training but however it has been noted that there seem to be some common elements among successful structured system, Levine (1996) stated that the components below may have different significance in different organizations:
Levine (1995, p.1) maintained the fact that training takes time and that it requires supervisors to allow themselves enough time for preparation and training, with the aim of not thwarting any structured OJT effort; Levine further affirmed that “If you cannot gain internal support from the organization’s managers and supervisors, don’t waste time trying to implement structured OJT.” Levine further stated that support may come in the form of supplies, funding, materials and recognition of trainers and trainees.
Formal trainer support process
Levine (1995) emphasized that successful system generally have an OJT coordinator, a training manager, or some people outside the work area to provide the support necessary for a trainer; thus may include a dotted line relationship to the training organization. Jacobs (2003) further added that organizations should be prepared to provide additional resources, such as appropriate rewards and incentives, necessary to support trainers in order to manage and develop trainers’ performance over time.
Checklists and OJT training material
Checklists is defined by Levine (1994, p.6) as being “the foundation of any OJT system”. Levine (1997, p.4) further lay out that checklists add structure to the training process: they list the specific skills and the employee is ‘checked off’ as each task is successfully performed.
Another document included by some training experts pointed out by Broadwell (1986) is the lesson plan which is a document intended to guide in the training and improve the trainer’s ability to instruct the trainee. Broadwell (1996) also noted that the lesson plan must include what the trainer will say, show, and do, what the trainee will be expected to do, a timeframe for training, and the job aids and resources that are used in training.
Train the trainer
Johnson and Leach (2001) advised that prospective trainers are expected to develop training related skills through a train the trainer course. According to Levine (1995), training of the OJT trainer is the key to successful implementation; and that the program should contain high impact activities with the aim of changing trainer’s behavior from telling to coaching, from demonstrating skills for trainees to performing them with them. Meyer and Marsick (2003) suggest that it is important that the design and delivery, such as conducting needs assessment, developing objectives, creatibg an agenda, developing instructional event, and evaluating learning outcomes, still need to be included as core components of any train the trainer program. What an effective trainer look like will further be elaborated in the next section.
Tracking and Report generation
The last component as mentioned by Levine (1996) is tracking and report generation which is an important element for managing the training process as well as for other business reason like the fulfillment of the ISO 9000 quality award; an effective tracking and report generation ma also provide valuable information to the stakeholders as well as providing a means of accountability. Smith (1995) states that it is important to document whether there is a substantial difference between the approaches in the knowledge and skills acquired during the training.
An effective trainer
Sullivan and Smith (1996) stated that one of the most important elements of OJT training is selecting and qualifying trainers, since according to Harris et al. (2000) the quality of training in the workplace depends to a considerable degree on workplace trainers. As pointed out by Johnson and Leach (2001), OJT supervisors tend to select trainers on the bsis of their job experience. However, Walters (32003) argued that eventhough OJT trainers are subject matter experts and more senior employees; they may possessed little competence in how to conduct an OJT program.
Johnson and Leach (2001) proposed addresses the necessity of using these expert workers who possess three competencies as follows:
Technical competency: this competency is related to the extent to which the trainer possesses a high level of technical knowledge and skills in the area to be taught.
Professional competency: this competency has to do with knowledge and skills related to instructional areas including planning, delivery and evaluation of learning.
Personal competency: it refers to the personal and behavioral characteristics that influence the way trainers are perceived by others.
In supplement to, Jacobs (2003) proposed two basic requirements that make OJT trainers more effective is that ‘they should have adequate competence in the unit of work that comprises of the training, and they should have adequate competence about the training as trainer” (p.98). Jacob and Jones (1995), on their side, outlined eight qualities to look for when selecting an OJT trainer including:
Task knowledge and skills
The ability to perform the work behaviors at appropriate performance levels.
Completion of specialized training in the area that will be the basis of the OJT program.
Willingness to share their expertise
Interest in the development of others.
Respect from peers
Perception by other employees that the trainer has task expertise, leadership abilities and general problem-solving skills
Ability to communicate clearly and comprehensively
Ability to comprehend resource materials
Concern for the organzaition
Showing an interest in helping the organization improve its performance
Awareness of job expectations and assignments and how these will affect their ability to perform as an OJT trainer
Strengths and weaknesses of OJT
Jacobs (2003) stated that every training program contains its own strengths and weaknesses.
Johnson and Leach (2001) asserted that OJT has a long history which took the form as a means for employee development and as the most dominant strategy to improve employees’ competence.
Furthermore White (1982) alleged that practical courses are much more important in relation to new recruits since they allow the new employees to begin work immediately on their appointment. In addition to, Jones (1988) recognized OJT’s importance with relation to new recruits by stating that for the incoming profession there is an urgent need for OJT that will orient newly appointed employees into the unique rites, procedures and culture of their particular institution. In addition to, Beardsall (1988, p.92) observed that, “OJT can take place at any level. It is especially useful for new entrants for widening job experience within a department, on transfer to a new job or on appointment to a role where no other type of training is immediately available.”
However, Canell (1996, p.51) argued that “although a great deal of training occurs on the job, training specialists have little involvement and OJT trainees receive little or no guidance on how it should be done.” Lawson (1997) added that OJT is not a useful solution as long as employees do not possess the required mental as well as physical qualification to perform the job, when employees have any motivational or attitudinal problems, or even when the environment has a high degree of constraints.
On the other side, De Vinnay and Tegler (1983) concluded, from their survey, that OJT was found to be an important means of learning responsibilities. Moreover, Creth (1986, p.2) pointed out the benefits of OJT as leading to an increase in the quality and quantity of work.
Furthermore, Fricks (1987. p.33) lay much emphasis that one of the benefits of OJT is its practical experience as compared to theoretical discussion; practical knowledge is an easier way to learn, retain and last lasting as opposed to theoretical knowledge. On a similar note, based on case studies of Mc Donald’s Restaurant, Barclays Life Assurance, Ryder, British Aerospace, Canell (1997) argued that most people learn and retain more from practicing activities other than reading books.
Jones (1988, p.17) summarized the following advantages of OJT as follows:
It is the best form of training that fits employees to the real world requirement of an activity.
It enhances the trainee’s confidence and a sense of productivity as well as quality.
It contributes to the skill development for new recruits from an entry level to a mastery level.
It improves the new employee’s skills.
It strengthens class room training.
This list of advantages is almost the same to as what others have found on their side. (Van Zolingen et al., 2000).
On the other hand, Zolingen et al. (2000, p.209) outlined several drawbacks of OJT as including:
“ supervisors / line managers often perceive OJT as an extra burden;
The atmosphere on the work site may not be favourable to starting up the learning process and keeping it going;
A heavy pressure of work can impact negatively on the training process;
Learning material are often not kept up to date;
Because of time constraints, little attention is paid to the necessary background of the skills and knowledge to be learned;
OJT preparation of the trainers who will have to deliver OJT is mostly inadequate.”
Goldstein (1974) supported Zolingen et al. (2000, p.209), while further highlighting that while OJT can work, it can as well as be unsuccessful when it is used to avoid the necessity of designing a training program and that as long as programs are designed solely for this purpose they will face difficulties of incompetent instructors and a generally poor learning environment.
An example of a shortcoming of OJT is in Paris and White’s (1986) study, whereby the respondents viewed OJT as being a luxury. Birnbraurer (1985) pointed out that OJT is among the most expensive and least effective training methods used and whimsically compared it to the game of whispering a story in one person’s ear and passing it around the room.
On his part, Beach (1970) emphasized the fact that real learning can occur when the learner has an opportunity to practice or applies his ideas which can be done on the job but he, however, cautions the fact that it is totally unsound to rely only on solely on OJT particularly for managerial training. Walters (2005) holds the same opinion and suggest that if the training is good, it must necessarily change the trainee’s attitude and subsequent behaviour on the job.
Implementations of OJT
Rothwell (1999) outlined the following situations as being suitable for an OJT program:
“When training can be immediately applied in the work environment, and not just learned as information. This is to overcome the related problem of transfer of training which occurs when training is not on the job;
When just-in-time training is needed due to extreme time constraints;
When single new employees start work, rather than as a group of new employees. This is frequently the case in team work environment.”
However, according to Lex (1997), OJT would not be suitable where there is a threat of health and safety problem posed by an inexperienced worker or even when a multiple of employees share a common training need and a more structured classroom format would be more economic or allow better use of time.
Needham and Dransfield (1990) recommend the following steps as necessary for a well formalized OJT programme in an organization:
A general introduction about the organization’s mission, vision and culture to all new employees;
Specific orientation in each employee start up department;
Identification and specification of trainer(s) for each employee which implies that the trainer are acknowledged to be knowledgeable and have the willingness and ability to effectively impart knowledge;
Assembling of training materials and aids including manual of procedures which are relevant and adapted to meet each level of cognitive needs;
Establishing the right environment for teaching and learning;
Frequent evaluation of progress by gradually delegating responsibilities with follow up discussion of outcomes between supervisor and learner.
On his side, Rothwell and Kazanas (1994) proposed the following steps as being of importance to conduct an effective governance of an OJT programme:
Arrange work areas
The first step is to arrange a functional work area. The trainer should stand or sit next ti the learner and any physical barriers such as desks should not prevent the learner from observing the work demonstration. In addition to, all necessary materials and equipment should be made easily available and be placed on the training site before the training is conducted.
Set learner at ease
According to Rothwell and Kazanas (1994), the trainer should be able to put the learner at ease with the aim of reducing the leaner’s anxiety and providing a psychologically supportive climate. This can be done by starting with small talks, communicate friendliness or by demonstrating personal concern. It is also important for the trainer to explain the trainee the purpose and importance of the training to be given.
Show learner how to perform
The trainer actually shows the trainee what to do, often with both trainer and trainee side by side. The trainer even explain the learner how to go about the decision making process and also about performance cues that may provide guidance about what to do. Many trainers believe that the leaner should take notes during this step, but Laird (1985) is to the view that taking notes does not imply increasing the learning retention but however can be useful for future references.
Explain key points
After having demonstrated the job function, the trainer should now emphasize key points and thus by the end may double check what the learner knows by asking questions about the job function.
Show the learner how to perform again
Broadwell (1986) reported that research on short term memory suggests that people forgets about 75% of what they learned within forty eight hours. For this reason it advisable for trainers to re-enact the demonstration.
Let learner do simple parts of the job
Having explained the learner the job function, the learner should now be given the chance to perform the activity by starting with simpler task first. After having demonstrated what the learner is able of, feedback should be given to him or her about how well he or she performed. Jacobs (1988) pointed out that the value of feedback in improving individual is great and should not be underestimated.
Let learner perform the whole job as trainer watches
Once being able to do the simple parts of the job, the learner may now be given the opportunity to perform the whole job. Trainers should be in a position to interfere only when the learner as for help; and also provide feedback periodically with more immediate feedback about performance.
Let learner perform the whole job alone
In this step, the trainer gradually fades from the scene, leaving the learner alone to perform the whole job and assume responsibility for it. One approach to this is to perform planned visit at unpredictable time inorder to observe performance or inspect work results.
Put learner on his or her own, with periodical feedback
This is a time where the learner is released from the training, thus ensuring that that the learner is fully trained to perform all essential job functions in conformance with measurable job performance standards; but however, may not be released incase the learner feel that he or she is not fully trained or if the learner is not performing in conformance with measurable job performance standard.
Evaluation of the OJT training System
Arguably, Marching and Wilkinson (2002, p.410) stated that the evaluation of training is one of the most critical stages in the training process. Boulmetis and Dotwin (2000) defined evaluation as the systhematic process of collecting and analyzing data inorder to determine whether and to what extent objectives were or are being achieved. On a similar note, Schalock (2001) viewed effective evaluation as the determination of the extent to which a program has met its stated performance goals and objectives. Pacquin (1995) further pointed out the importance of evaluating job skills, is critical to a training program’s credibility
Zaccarelle (1997) added that four steps in the process of training and evaluating the training is one of them; he emphasized that no one should be trained to do a job until the correct way to do the work has been defined. Furthermore Zaccarelle (1997) also added that knowing that someone is watching one’s progress a trainee is always concerned about proving himself or herself most capable and satisfying the trainer.
In complement of Cevallos and Zaccarelle statement, Levy (1993) supported three main forms of formal evaluation;
Assessment of participant’s immediate level of satisfaction with the course and the extent to which it achieved its objectives from their point of view’
Measurement of the medium and long term impact of the training’
Measurement of the impact of the training on overall organizational performance in relation to cost.
However, of of the most popular and common type of evaluation is Kirkpatrict (1976) four level approaches and for the purpose of this study this model will be used.
Kirkpatrick 4 level evaluation model
Although newer approaches to, and models of training evaluation have been proposed , Kirkpatrick (1959, 1976, 1996) four level model of training evaluation and criteria continues to be the most popular(Salas and Canon-Bower, 2001 ; Van Buren and Erskine, 2002).
In one of his journal recently, P.Rajeev et al. (2009) outlined the 4 level of the Kirkpatrick model as follows:
Level 1 – Reaction – At this level, P.Rajeev et al. (2009) state that data on reactions on the participants at the end of the training programme are gathered; and often these data are measured with attitude questionnaires that are passed out after the training; thus, this level measures the learner’s perception of the course. By contrast, Rothwell and Kazanas (1994) contend the fact that end-of-training is rarely checked in OJT since OJT trainers have difficulty determining precisely when the end of the training occurs; moreover, trainer can acquire the reaction of the learner through prompt feedback and thus judge the effectiveness of the instructional methods by directly observing what the learner does and how well. Sitzmann et al. (2008) argued that although reactions measures are useful for providing feedback on course characteristics, they do not, however, provide evidence as to whether the training influenced learners’ knowledge.
Level 2 – Learning – according to P.Rajeev et al. (2009) the intention of this level is to assess whether the learning objectives for the programme are met; he (2009) further elaborated that the learning evaluation requires post testing to ascertain what knowledge was learned during the training and added that for the post testing is only valid when combined with pre testing. So that one can differentiate between what he already knew prior to the training and what he actually learned during the training programme. On his side, Rothwell and Kazanas stated that while in classroom training, paper and pencil examination are sometimes used but in OJT, the trainer may evaluate learning informally – through the used of oral or written notes on learning progress – as well as formally though oral, written, or performance based examinations.
Level 3 – Behaviour – Furthermore P.Rajeev et al. (2009) viewed the purpose at this level is to assess whether job performance changes as a result of the training; this evaluation involves testing the students capabilities to perform learned skills while on the job which can be performed formally through testing and informally through observation and judgement. War and Catriona (1999) emphasized that when supervisors and colleagues encourage and reward the application of the course material , training is more likely to yield positive outcomes at work.
Level 4 – Results – finally, P.Rajeev et al. (2009) stated that the the aim of this last level is to assess the costs v/s benefits of the training programme, that is, organizational impact interms of quality of work, increased productivity as well as monetary efficiency, moral, teamwork. Clark (2007) contend that eventhough collecting, organizing and analyzing level four information can be difficult, time consuming and more costly than the three levels, the results are often quite worthwhile when viewed in the full context of its value to the organization. Goldstein and Ford (2002) suggest that other results level indicators that can be examined include costs, turnover, absenteeism, grievances, and morale. To Bee (2000), if learning evaluation is going to be taken seriously it has to show that it makes a difference to the quality of the learning process and to the business outcomes. However, Abernathy (1999) firmly affirmed that there are too many variables other than training that can impact on performance.
According to Santos and Stuart (2003), the Kirkpatrick model has been highly influential and according to a recent survey by the American Society for Training and Development, it is still the most commonly used evaluation framework among the Benchmarking Forum Companies. Alleger and Tannenbaum (1997) further added that the power of this model is its simplicity and its abilty to help people think about training evaluation. Alliger and Tannenbaum (1997) howver contend that the model’s simplicity maybe appealing, as revealed in recent work, this simplicity is also a liability. The model promoted awareness of the importance of thinking about and assessing training in business terms (Wang, 2003).
On a whole, the Kirkpatrick model has appraised for its simplicity and however has been criticized by several researchers including Pernick (2001) and Tannenbaum and Woods (1992) for it becomes more complicated and expensive with each level. Holton (1996) further added that the Kirkpatrick’s model is unjustly acknowledged by many Human Resources Development professionals since the model is not based on profound empirical evidence and is considered to be incomplete.
Regarding unstructured OJT, Pacquin (1995) stated that the evaluation or assessment of job skills either does not exist or is done through informal observations only.
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