Material Excerpts: On-the-Job Training Tips


Preparing for O.J.T.


This material is reproduced from the training program materials in Training Others, Copyright © 2007, Donald F. Barkman, The Business Center, Oak Ridge, TN, All Rights Reserved. This web site material may be copied and reproduced by persons interested in learning about and promoting the program. "The Business Center, Oak Ridge, TN 888-988-2275" must be acknowledged as the source of the material. For complete information, please refer to the information in the "Seminars" section. Thank you.




Preparing to conduct an actual on-the-job training session is essential for the training itself to be successful. This is one step in the process of OJT covered in the Training Others seminar/workshop (see outline below).


Trainer / Learner Relationship
Principles of Learning
Training Styles
Preparation by Trainer
Conducting the Training 4 Steps
Achieving your on-the-job training goals requires careful planning and preparation. The first step is to clarify exactly what you want to accomplish. Unless you plan ahead, your training can lack a clear purpose, consume unnecessary amounts of time, and confuse the learner. Being prepared shows the learner that training is important and that you, the trainer, respect the learner.


Let's preview the four major planning and preparation steps you'll follow:

  • Establish the Objective(s) -- well planned, specific objectives are used to plan training content and measure the performance of the learner.
  • Select Measures of Effectiveness -- Develop ways to measure learning to assure that the learner has mastered the skills you teach.
  • Outline the Training Steps -- Break the material into digestible pieces and determine the best sequence of information; select practice opportunities to demonstrate and apply what is taught.
  • Identify Terminology/Jargon -- Consider technical items and unusual words that require further explanation for the learner.

With this preview in mind, let's look at each piece in more detail. [This web site excerpt will cover only the sections on objectives and measures.]





One of the best ways to avoid problems during the training is to define your objectives before you begin. Objective setting isn't difficult once you get a feel for it. You may do it intuitively right now. Taking a few minutes to clarify your objectives pays a valuable dividend in keeping your training focused on the essentials.


Objectives are accomplished as a result of training. If the learner can do what the objectives require, then the training was successful. The instructor can declare, "Here's the proof, Joe met the objectives so the training was good." However, meeting the objectives is only productive if the objectives are tied to the work to be done.


Objectives aren't based on what we "want" to teach, they are based on what the learner "needs to do." Sometimes trainers find it easier to set objectives based on what they can measure and how they can measure it, rather than on the job requirements. Since we're focusing on OJT, you should concentrate on equipping the learner with skills to handle the task at hand.


The objectives must be based on the job. The challenge is to make sure the objectives set by you, the trainer, create real performance improvements. Objectives will require the learner to perform some action such as list, circle, draw, open, close, add, empty, measure, calibrate, complete, repair, set up, etc.


Objective setting doesn't need to be time consuming or complicated. All it takes is a pad of paper and a few quiet minutes to think. Think about what the trainee must be able to do when the training is finished. Write it down. These are your objectives. Number them in either the order you will teach them, or the order of their importance.


Let's look at examples of job related objectives:

Install a Suresharp #10 cutting tool in the lathe and set all axes to the proper initial coordinates for machining part #2219.


While taking a customer's order over the phone, complete an order form with all data required to process the order.


Inspect a returned product for damage and return it to its proper location in inventory.


Given a truck filled with product #5500, correctly fill out the proper paper documentation to release the truck from the plant.

Objectives vary in how broad and how specific they can be. You might use a string of very specific objectives or one or two broad ones to obtain the same results. Be careful not to make objectives too large. An objective which requires the learner to master too many tasks at once may be unreachable. On the other hand, too many itsy-bitsy objectives are tiring to write. They are also burdens to use. Besides, you probably don't have that much time anyway!


Notice that all the examples use action words to state the objective. Avoid phrases like "know how to" and "be able to." You can only judge knowledge and ability by observing action, so use the action words you will be looking for.





Once you have objectives -- "what" you want to accomplish, you need to know "how well" the training worked. These are your "measures." For instance, a valid objective for training someone to start-up an automated welding operation might be, "Start-up the welder from a shutdown." But how will you know when that objective has been met?


During the training, the learner will practice the steps involved in starting the machine. Mastering each step is like achieving a mini-objective. But once he has performed the steps individually, does that mean the learner can start the machine correctly after every shutdown? You should identify some "measure" that will prove to you that your learner is competent in the task you're teaching.


Unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast rule for determining the successful completion of the learning process. Paper and pencil tests can measure "knowledge," but not "doing." There is a difference! Some learners are much better at one than the other. Some are "book smart" others are "hand smart." The closer you can get to a real life demonstration of performance, the more you'll know the learner is at the "can do" level -- the level OJT aims for.


In this example, we could observe the trainee during two start-ups. During one we could have him tell us what he was doing and why. When he can start-up the equipment and explain what he is doing, the objective has been reached. The trainee should be able to recall training and repeat his successful performance after a significant period of time (weeks/months), so you will want to space out your observations.


You can imagine a similar example for any type of work process -- a milling machine, a filling machine, a chemical process, a computer software package, etc. Can you identify a task in your own job?


When determining measures, you'll have to consider the difficulty of the task, the complexity of the process, and the experience of your learner. You'll need to say to yourself, "I'll know the learner is competent when I see / hear my learner do such-and-such."


Setting measures does not have to be a tough task. Remember the objectives you wrote down on a pad? After each objective, write one or two things you could observe as proof the training worked and the trainee can do the job.


Since OJT is very job specific, your measure will often be something like: "trainee correctly performs all steps in proper order within ___ minutes and explains as he goes." If you use written training materials as part of your OJT effort, you may use a paper and pencil test with a measure like: "Trainee correctly answers 85% of all questions on unit test."


Here are some more examples tied to the objective examples you saw earlier:

Suresharp #10 cutting tool installed in the lathe and all axes set to the proper initial coordinates for machining part #2219 within ten minutes.


Three customer order forms completed with all data required to process the order -- no errors or omissions.


Five returned products inspected for damage and returned to proper locations in inventory (must include at least one rejected for damage); damaged part placed in "damaged goods" bin.


Two Form 1512's completed releasing trucks containing product #5500 from the plant (partial load and full load).

Next time you conduct OJT, take a few moments to prepare your objectives and measures before you meet with your trainee. Share them with the trainee before you begin the session so he knows what is expected. When the session ends, ask the trainee how helpful it was to know exactly what was expected during the training. Also ask how clear the objectives and measures were. That feedback can help you refine your preparation skills.




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