Job Training Techniques – Different Methods of Training Employees

The aim of training and development programs is to improve organizational capabilities and employee ability. When the organization invests in improving the skills and knowledge for its employees, the investment will lead to more productive and effective employees. Successful Training and development programme focuses on employee performance or team performance. Training and development programmes should be based on training needs identified by their analysis, that money and time invested in training and development should be related or linked to the mission or core business strategy of the organization.

Job Training Techniques

Training and development can be classified as external and internal. Externally training and development can be provided by private training organizations and co-workers, while Internal training can be on-the-job or off-the-job. On-the-job training is a training being instructed by another trainer, fellow worker or supervisor while off-the-job training provided by the organization in the form of demonstrations and lectures, but far away from the work station. Training and development however, have a lot of similarities which is often difficult to differentiate and as such are used interchangeably.

On the Job Training Methods

In these methods, training is provided on the job, in realistic job situations, at employers’ cost and time. The trainee usually learns as well as earns. In terms of learning principles, there is higher motivation, participation, and involvement of the trainees in the learning process. There is also quick transference of learning to the job. However, its biggest limitation is that the supervisor-trainers may not take full interest in the training, may only fulfill the ritual of training and leave the trainee to sink and swim at his own risk.

The main methods of on-the job training are:

i) Job Instruction Method: It is also called, ‘on the job training ’. In this method the trainee is placed directly on the job under the care of his immediate supervisor. This training involves five steps: First, the supervisor-trainer explains to him the basic nature of the job, rules, procedures, methods, ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts ‘ etc. Second, he demonstrates to him, step-by step, how the work is done, explaining every step carefully. Third, he makes the trainee practice the work in front of him repeatedly, guiding him every time when he falters because of lack of confidence or skill. At the fourth step the supervisor allows the trainee to perform simple routines at first at his own and then more difficult operations in his guidance. Lastly, the supervisor leaves the trained worker free under the guidance of some senior co-worker and occasionally checks his progress and gives him more practical tips.

The main advantages of this method are: i) It is easily organized, and realistic, ii) it stimulates high motivation, iii) it speeds up the worker’s adjustment to his superior and fellow workers, iv) its cost is less, v) in terms of learning principles the method is job-relevant, facilitates repetition and positive transfer, provides active participation, and immediate knowledge of results.

The main disadvantages are: i) The immediate supervisor may be a poor instructor or unwilling instructor, ii) the worker in his haste for immediate production, may fail to learn the best way of doing the job, iii) the actual costs, considering lost time of trainee and trainer, as well as the wasted material and damaged equipment, may be heavy, and iv) this training is often too brief and poorly structured to provide complete training.

ii) Vestibule Training: In this method, the trainees, before being placed on the job, are trained, in a training-workshop attached and adjacent to the main production line almost on identical equipment, but by trained instructors. This training is more systematic and complete because it moves on the principle of progressive learning, i.e. first learn the first step and then only move to the learning of the second step. This gives greater satisfaction and confidence to the trainee and saves costly equipment from misuse. However, its cost is a little higher because it requires spare equipment, special instructors, and a special training workshop near the main production line. This type of training is given to workers on technical jobs where costly equipment is used and the operations require meticulous moves, or where the operation cycle is long and involves several workstations and workers performing several manipulations on the way.

iii) Job Rotation: This is a method of training in which a worker is moved systematically from one job to the other job, in such a manner that he learns and masters the nuances of different jobs of the same order and level in the same department or in different departments. This training gives him a wider exposure, develops in him multiple skills, allows management to use his services in different department on different jobs, and prepares him to assume supervisory responsibility for all the jobs he learnt during training. In management development programmes this technique is known as ‘position rotation’ technique.

The main advantages of this training are: a) it trains workers in a variety of duties and responsibilities and thus develops multiple skills. b) Workers also get an overall perspective of related activities and jobs; c) It helps management to use the services of these workers on multiple jobs as per staff requirements. d) Learning is more effective because of higher motivation (variety of skills and challenges), active participation in learning process, quick transference of skills to jobs, and prompt feedback on progress etc. e) it improves the marketability of the trained employees’ skills, he can easily get alternative employment anywhere.

The main limitations of this method are: i) this training is time-consuming and costly too. ii) Due to individual differences, people are not equally suited for all jobs. iii) It weakens a workers commitment to a given job. iv) Placement of worker might create a problem when a particular workers shows inclination for a different job than the one being offered to him.

iv) Apprenticeship Training: This is a very old system for training artisans. In this system a new worker is ‘tutored and mentored’ by an established craftsman in the intricacies of the trade for a considerable period of time, say from two to five years. In this training the emphasis is placed first on the development of right attitudes and aptitudes and then on the intricacies of the trade and lastly on developing creative genius in the trade.

In the modern version, classroom instructions are imparted typically in the evening at local training school for about 144 or more hours per year. Each apprentice is usually given a workbook consisting of reading materials, tests to be taken and practice problems to be solved. The apprentice serves as ‘assistant’ and learns the craft by working with a fully skilled member of the trade called a ‘Journeyman’.

This training is used in such trades, crafts, and technical fields in which proficiency can be acquired only through practice over a relatively long period of time in and under direct supervision of experts. At the end of the training, the person is promoted to the position of a journeyman. This training is intense, lengthy and usually on one-to-one basis.

v) Internship Training: This training combines a heavy dose of theoretical and practical training for developing professional knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes in the trainees. Training imparted in such professions as medicine, para-medicines, nursing, accountancy, law, computers etc. provide very apt examples of this training. In this training, the internees, after or alongside the passing of theory examination .have to undergo an intense internship training at actual place of professional practice e.g. hospitals, nursing homes, audit firms, law courts, etc. under the close guidance of established practitioners and learn practical tips and skills.

vi) Coaching and Counseling: At management levels, coaching and counseling of immediate subordinates by their managers to make them a better fit at the job and for improving their job skills and abilities, is a common practice. Coaching is similar to apprenticeship to some extent because the coach attempts to provide a model for the trainee to copy. However, this is less formal than apprenticeship training, because it generally does not include classroom sessions. Further, it is provided only when needed rather than as a part of a carefully planned program.

In management development programs the designated trainee may be inducted as an ‘assistant to’ the manager or as his ‘understudy’. This training also involves effective use of main learning principles: relevance, participation, feedback. and job-transference.

This type of coaching thrives in ‘a climate of confidence’, a climate in which subordinates respect the integrity, achievements and capability of their superiors. Its greatest advantage is individualized informal instructions, concentrating on those specific stimulus-situations, which subordinates find hardest to deal with, and those specific performance-requirements which subordinates find hardest to improve. The kind and quality of feedback provided also has great impact on subordinates. However, this training is less effective, if relations between trainee and coach are ambiguous or lack mutual trust.

Off the Job Training Methods

These training progammes take place away from the daily pressure of the job and are conducted by highly competent resource persons, like consultants, technicians and academicians etc. who have training expertise. Its main advantages are, full attention on training aspect, guidance by the best experts in the area, freeing of the busy executives from often-unwanted instructional task, and freedom to the trainee from the daily pressure of work routine.

However, this has some limitations too: e.g. poor transferability to the job—more often the trainee learns new facts and principles at lectures, workshops, and conferences but have no idea how to apply what he has learned, once he is back in his job.

i) Lecture Method: To make this method effective the instructor expert must plan his lecture by taking into consideration: who comprise his audience, what do they need from him, what is the time available, and what and how will he like to convey it. The lecture should be brief and to the point, presenting the theme of the subject in a manner that arouses interest in the audience from the start. The speaker should be poised, courteous, and sincere; his gestures and actions should be spontaneous. Affectations are extremely distracting and annoying. It is best to use simple language that has less chance of being misunderstood.

The main advantages of this method are: i) large number of trainees can be covered at the same time, ii) it is cost-effective, and iii) it is also an efficient method for acquiring latest knowledge in the field.

The main limitations are: i) it gives little opportunity for active practice, knowledge of results, or transfer of learning, ii) there is danger of over-learning when the experts try to cover too much in too little time, and iii) this method can not meet the needs of individual differences among learners–their backgrounds, personality , motivations etc.

The lecture method may be strengthened with the use of several instructional audio-visual aids like Blackboards, Flip-charts, Magnetic Boards, Overhead Projectors as tools of effective presentation, and short visuals, slides, enactments, case films etc. as tools to highlight the concepts. These aids make presentations more lively, precise and understandable. Further, the contents get etched in the memory of the trainees more permanently.

ii) Conference (Discussion) Method: This method encourages the participation of all members of the group in an exchange of opinions, ideas, and criticism. It is a small group discussion in which leader plays a neutral role providing guidance and feedback. This method is effective when the material needs clarification and elaboration or where lively discussion would facilitate understanding all the implications of a problem and in developing creative and effective solutions to the problems at hand.

The main objectives of this method are: a) developing the decision-making and problem-solving skills of participants, b) presenting new and sometimes complex ideas and concepts, c) changing and modifying attitudes through group discussions. The method can draw on the learning principles of motivation, participation and feedback.

iii) Programmed Instructions: It is also called a teaching machine. It was developed in the late 1950s for both school and industrial applications. Its main features are: i) the trainees learn at their own place, ii) the instructors are not a key part of the learning, iii) the material to be learnt is broken down into very small units or stages, iv) each step logically builds upon those that have preceded it, v) the trainee is given immediate knowledge of results for each answer he gives, and vi) there is active participation by the learner at each step of the programme. The programmed instructions include elaborate teaching machines, films, sound tapes, programmed books, illustrations, printed material, diagrams etc. The core feature of programmed instructions is participation by the trainee and immediate feedback to him.

iv) Vocational Guidance: Vocational guidance is a facilitative process, in which an expert advises individual employees about the type of jobs, and careers most suitable for them taking into consideration their interests, aptitudes and abilities and the available or likely to be available job/position opportunities in the organization or employment market. The expert is called vocational and career counselor. In a working organization he guides new employees in the selection of the right assignment for placement. He also guides existing employees in the selection of their career goals and progression paths. Vocational guidance involves the following steps: i) collection of information from the candidate and his parents regarding the person’s past history, ii) securing information about the candidate’s aptitudes and interests through various psychological tests, and of his occupational abilities and skills through various trade tests iii) Making an opinion about the candidate’s talent, interests and potential, iv) Matching the candidate’s capabilities with various jobs/positions available or likely to be available in the organization v) Giving vocational advice and guidance to the candidate how he can benefit.

v) Case Study Method: It is a written description of an actual situation in business which provokes, in the reader, the need to decide what is going on, what the situation really is, or what the problems are, and what can and should be done. Taken from actual experience of organizations, these cases represent attempts to describe, as accurately as possible, real problems that managers face. Trainees study the cases to determine problems, analyze causes, develop alternative solutions, select the best and workable, and debate and defend their choices. Case study can provide stimulating discussions among participants, as well as excellent opportunities for individuals to develop their analytical and judgmental abilities. It appears to be an ideal method to promote decision-making abilities within the constraints of limited data. Cases are usually organized around one or more problems or issues that are confronted by an organization. They are meant to illustrate problematic issues, rather than to portray success stories.

The main advantages of case study method are: a) It allows participative discussion, b) when cases are meaningful and similar to work related situations, there is immediate learning transference, c) it improves participants’ analytical, decision-making and problem solving skills, d) it brings home to the participant that nothing is absolutely right or wrong in the field of human behaviour.

vi) Simulation: It is an approach that replicates certain important characteristics of the real world situations so that the trainees can react to them as if it were real and then carry the knowledge gained to their actual work practices. This type of training generally enhances trainees’ cognitive, decision-making and behavioural skills. Main methods for simulation are:

  1. Role Playing: In this method the trainees are given some real life business situations requiring inter-personal interactions and they are asked to play assigned roles as per their understanding of the situation and the responses from the other party. The chosen person in an assigned role has to think of his moves and statements as per the on-going dialogue, there and then, and not forget the basic purpose, which that role confers on him. This method is used for the development of inter-personal skills, or human relation skills as well as customer relation skills.
  2. In basket Exercise: In this method the trainee managers are confronted with real management situation. They are placed on the job for which they are trained and given two baskets—an ‘in basket’ in which the day’s decisional problem are lined up and an ‘out basket’ in which the trainee’s decisions are passed on. The trainee takes actual decisions under the watchful eyes of the experienced managers and at the end of the day these decisions are discussed to understand and evaluate the decision-making abilities of the trainee manager.
  3. Business Games: These games are designed to develop decision-making skills of the trainees in a group. Participants are divided into teams, which compete with each other in achieving some business goals in a given external and internal environment, with the help of available resources. They have to plan their team strategy, define functional goals for members, allocate resources, plan action programmes, budget and schedules, coordinate the programmes of different functional in-charges, follow the market changes and show how their plans, in the light of the competitive teams’ plans, work better.

vii) Sensitivity Training: This training uses small number of trainees, usually 10-12 in a group. They meet with a passive trainer and gain insight into their own and others’ behaviours and sensitivities. Meetings, that have no agenda, are held away from workplaces, and questions deal with the ‘here and now’ of the group process. Discussions focus on ‘why participants behave as they do, how they perceive each other, and the feelings and emotions generated in the interaction processes.

The main objectives of sensitivity training are: a) to make participants increasingly aware of, and sensitive to, the emotional reactions and expressions in themselves and others, b) to increase the ability of participants to perceive, and to learn from, the consequences of their actions through attention to their own and others’ feelings, c) to stimulate the clarification and development of personal values and goals consonant with a democratic and scientific approach to problems of personal and social decisions and actions, d) to develop achievement of behavioral effectiveness in participants, and e) to develop concepts and theoretical framework for linking personal values and goals to actions consistent with these inner factors and situational requirements.

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