Good Practice Note: On-The-Job Training (OJT) The following are some good practices for developing and conducting formal on-the-job training (OJT): 1. Remember, OJT Is Formal Training. Just because OJT is done in a real working environment doesn’t mean that you can forget the sound principles of instructional systems development. Good OJT involves the same basic five elements as classroom training: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. And, OJT instructors/developers need formal training on how to do their jobs. Being an operator doesn’t automatically qualify you to be an OJT instructor. 2. Training Is About Knowledge and Skills, Not Just Procedures. Like other types of formal training, the design and development of OJT should be based on analysis and documentation of system performance requirements; human performance requirements based on system demands; and training requirements based on human performance demands. Typically, deriving these training requirements involves needs analysis, job analysis, and task analysis. If procedures already exist, they are obviously an important base of information, but are not necessarily a complete source. OJT training should be focused on assuring that the qualified individual has the requisite knowledge and skills to perform the job. Teaching operators to properly execute procedures properly is important, but it is only part of the trainer’s job. 3. Learning Objectives. Derive and document terminal learning objectives that are directly linked to knowledge and skill requirements identified in the training analysis. Develop enabling objectives that support achievement of the terminal objective. Structure training to assure that the trainee meets the objectives. 4. Take Full Advantage of the OJT Setting. Recognize the advantages of the OJT setting and use them in the development and conduct of training and evaluation: An obvious advantage of OJT is the ability for “hands-on” learning and demonstration of skills – practice - as well as knowledge acquisition. Allow plenty of time for practice. Training can involve the trainee performing a task on the operating equipment, with appropriate supervision. Often, due to potential safety or operational risks, the task must be simulated. But, the environment of the actual facility still enhances training significantly. In the OJT setting, the instructor has a great opportunity to demonstrate by example essential characteristics and “attitudes” of an operator that are as important as the factual knowledge, e.g. safety attitudes, inquisitiveness, situational awareness, professional conduct, etc. Take advantage of the multiple sensory cues offered in the real environment. Teach the trainee to see, hear, smell, and touch (safely) the operating facility and. Since OJT typically is conducted one-on-one, or with only a small number of trainees, the instructor is much freer to tailor each session to the particular needs of the individual trainee than is the case in other training settings. Vary the pace, depth of knowledge, order of training, and other factors to provide the best possible learning experience for each individual. 5. Recognize and Work Around the Disadvantages. Often, training sessions cannot take place as scheduled, or training is interrupted, due to unexpected operational conditions, such as equipment out of service or areas temporarily inaccessible. Be flexible and always be prepared with a fall back plan to make good use of the training time. OJT offers little opportunity to change equipment conditions, parameter values, indicator positions, etc. All are determined by the actual operation in progress. The environment can make it very difficult to communicate due to noise, protective clothing, etc. While this represents the “reality” or actual task performance, it’s often not the best place to discuss knowledge items. A good practice is to identify a “staging area” for discussion before and after hands-on demonstration/performance in an adverse environment. 6. OJT Includes Training and Evaluation. Remember that OJT has two separate and distinct parts – training and evaluation. The instructor-trainee interaction and techniques for these two activities can be quite different. Prepare specific (observable) performance criteria (standards) for both training and testing directly related back to the learning objectives and the identified knowledge and skill requirements. Construct OJT “checklists” (sometimes called Job Performance Measures, or JPMs) for training and for evaluation that include the learning objectives, performance criteria, and other appropriate training/testing documentation, and use them as both a guide for and documentation of training/testing. In-training evaluations are done during the process of training and can be viewed as a part of the learning process as well as an ongoing status check on knowledge/ skill acquisition. They can consist of instructor critiques, student critiques, oral and written tests, performance demonstrations, subjective ratings by instructors, or other appropriate means. Post-training evaluations are conducted at the end of the training block/program and are intended strictly to test trainee performance compared to the pre-defined performance standard(s). The great advantage of OJT is the ability to conduct “hands-on” performance testing, particularly of skill acquisition. Knowledge acquisition can be tested during the performance test via oral questions/ discussions and/or through written exams. 7. Avoid Common OJT Instructor Errors. Some of the common errors made by OJT instructors that reduce their effectiveness are: Too Much – Complex tasks often need to be broken into parts, focused on enabling objectives, and building necessary skills over time. Too Fast – Give the trainee some “soak time” with new concepts/skills. Be sure the trainee is ready for the next level before proceeding. Not Giving the Trainee the “Big Picture” – Include in the introduction an overview of the training about to take place. Show how the task fits into the overall job; how the job fits into the organization. Not Adjusting to Individual Differences. Individuals have different learning styles, aptitudes, prior knowledge and skill levels, mental and physical abilities, etc. Look for these individual differences and try to take advantage of the OJT format to create the most effective learning experience for each individual. Not everyone will learn everything at the same rate. Insufficient Practice Time. Knowing how to do a task and achieving minimum proficiency for qualification can be quite different things. Plan plenty of time for skill practice. Repeated practice builds proficiency and confidence. Failure to Motivate. Reinforcement to motivate the trainee throughout the training program is an important part of the instructor’s job. Positive feedback from the instructor, peer recognition, a clear sense of progress, and other intangible positive reinforcement can be as effective as tangible rewards such as pay increases. Rarely is negative reinforcement or punishment effective, and it often has a net negative effect on trainee attitude, confidence, and motivation to learn. Avoid punishment associated with failure in training if possible. Intimidation. Recognize the difference between demonstrating appropriate competence and confidence as an instructor and intimidating the trainee; between being demanding and being demeaning. Use your position of power to build good workers, not to build your ego.
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