Many organizations rely on on-the-job training to equip employees with leadership skills. There are many advantages to on-the-job training including its convenience and low-cost. However, in offering this type of training, many organizations ignore science-based evidence when considering best approaches. This blog describes on-the-job training and compares the training with the approach at CQ Net - Management skills for everyone!, which relies on evidence to provide instruction to training participants. The blog argues that our evidence-based approach is more valid and reliable and provides you with the essential management skills that help boost your career and personal growth.
On-the-job training or occurs when employees learn the necessary knowledge and skills required for their job role within the work environment. It is a hands-on method whereby employees gain experience within the workplace and is distinguished from training that occurs away from the workplace, typically in structured and formal training courses (Ahadi & Jacobs, 2017).
In a review of the research on structured on-the-job training, Ahadi and Jacobs (2017) describe the origins of the on-the-job training, which was typically associated with World War II innovations in workplace practices including the Training within Industry (TWI) service. There are three types of structured on the job training methods:
job instruction training (JIT),
job methods training (JMT), and
job relations training (JRT).
As Adahi and Jacobs state, “Fundamentally, structured on-the-job training is about delivering systematically developed training in the work setting, not in a classroom or some other off-the-job setting.” (p.326). Initially, on-the-job-training focused on technical skills but recently on-the-job-training has been utilized within the field of management skills.
How effective is on-the-job training?
The training model for structured on-the-job training has showed promise yet there are few empirical research studies that have examined the effectiveness of structured on-the-job training programs (Adahi & Jacobs, 2017). One of the reasons for this lack of research is that most companies rely on unstructured on-the-job training whereby colleagues impart knowledge to a new co-worker so that the individual learns on the job. One of the problems with unstructured on-the-job training is that rarely are colleagues skilled in instructional techniques because they have not received training in instructional methods and theory; essentially, they are not trainers (Sisson, 2001).
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Structured on-the-job-training is superior to unstructured on-the-job-training
Structured on-the-job-training draws on learning principles that are well-founded in the organizational science literature. Because it is an experiential form of learning, there is an emphasis on learning by example, with the learner observing and then practicing the modeled behaviors. However, this requires colleagues who are effective in imparting these modeled behaviors and, in the case of unstructured on-the-job training, this doesn’t always occur, and many learners do not receive feedback on their performance when modeling the expected behaviors. Typically, in unstructured on-the-job training, the learner receives instruction through show and tell (Sisson, 2001).
Unstructured on-the-job training is flawed
There are several issues with unstructured on-the-job training, which is the main preference of training methods for organizations, despite the merits of structured on-the-job training. Many of the sound principles of structured on-the-job training focus on using evidence-based practices that are rigorous and practical. At CQ Net - Management skills for everyone!, we utilize evidence-based principles that are aligned with current research and theory. Many of the principles of unstructured on-the-job training are not based on empirical evidence including the show and tell method, which has no basis in learning and instructional principles.
Management knowledge differs in terms of quality
Moreover, the information is frequently erroneous (Sisson, 2001). At CQ Net, we ensure that all information is grounded in proven scientific research. When colleagues are dispensing information to new job incumbents, rarely is the information scientifically sound or based on empirical research. Typically, the information is anecdotal or based on the colleague’s own experience and this might not be congruent with the learner’s training needs. Rarely does the supervisor or colleagues conduct a training needs analysis to determine the learner’s level of knowledge, skills, and competencies. At CQ Net, we base our instruction on the training needs of each individual and tailor the sessions, accordingly.
Evidence-based management training: Why it works
Evidence-based management training is essential in today’s workplace because it is both effective and efficient. A recent article on people management provides an alarming fact –40% of employees who receive unstructured on-the-job training leave after a year of employment. For training to be effective it needs to follow the five stages of instructional design: analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation (Morrison, 2010). At CQ Net, we follow these principles. We have identified essential training needs for management and, based on the scientific literature, have focused on core management skills that are related to individual, team and organizational effectiveness.
We have determined the design of CQ Net management training through utilizing a variety of training methods, such as workshops, instructional material, and individual feedback and assessment. CQ Net has established materials that describe key management skills and competencies, based on scientific evidence. At CQ Net, we have implemented a plan for training programs that focus on equipping individuals with key management skills. Our evidence-based program includes an evaluation of the effectiveness of training initiatives so that materials and workshops can be updated to best serve the management community.
At CQ Net, we have identified key topics that are integral to management training such as transformational leadership and building a successful team. These topics are key to identifying role competency in a management position. The instructional materials produced at CQ Net focus on behaviors and knowledge making it easier for learners to consider how best to demonstrate competencies and to identify opportunities where these behaviors can be demonstrated. Moreover, the competencies are solidified through a focus on topics that are significant and well validated in the field of management.
Most organizations engage in unstructured on-the-job-training, relying on ineffective training methods. The best training principles are those based in research evidence such as the structured on-the-job training model that is structured and well-defined. At CQ Net, we adopt principles that are based on research evidence in order to equip managers with the skills to be effective leaders and to make the organization more effective.
References and further reading
Ahadi, S., & Jacobs, R. L. (2017) A Review of the Literature on Structured On-the-Job Training and Directions for Future Research." Human Resource Development Review 16, 4, 323-49.
Morrison, G. R. (2010). Designing Effective Instruction, 6th Edition. John Wiley & Sons.
Sisson, G. R. (2001). Hands-on Training. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. San Francisco
Annette was born in England and now lives in the United States. She has a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has taught at several institutions. Annette has published in several journals, including Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Human Resource Development Quarterly, and Organizational Research Methods. She worked in the public and private sector for many years, primarily as a management trainer.