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Mar 23, 2012

On Job Training

On job training is part of every manager's job. But some managers aren't aware that adults learn differently to children. Being aware just how adults learn can markedly improve the quality of on job training.

1. Learning By Doing

In broad terms, children learn by being told. Adults learn by doing. Ensure that your on job training has a strong emphasis on practical action rather than theory and telling. Adults do not need to know "why" in order to learn and practice skills. Few drivers know how a reciprocating engine works. It's the engine that powers your car. You don't need to know how it works in order to drive well.

2. Try Out

Adults like to try out skills. Provided it's safe, allow trainees to "try their hand" extensively. Supervise them closely so that they avoid errors.

3. Discovery

Pose a problem. Give adult trainees the opportunity to "work things out". Ask lots of questions. Don't be too directive. Just make sure you're always on hand to help.

4. Self Pacing

Try to let trainees work at a pace that they're comfortable with. Avoid slow, tedious instruction and avoid rushing through material too quickly. Adapt your instruction to the pace that suits your trainee. If they show that they're learning quickly, provide more opportunities for them to demonstrate their competence.

5. Problem Centred

Make sure you present your instruction as providing skills and knowledge that will help trainees solve a problem. Avoid presenting material that's merely "useful" and lacks direct relationship to on job performance.

6. Making Sense

Adults learn better when the learning process makes sense to them. Elaborate and complex instruction will discourage many trainees.

7. Acknowledge Experience

Take care that you acknowledge trainee's past experience. Test to see what they can already do so that you're not asking them to learn what they know already. That's a huge turn off to adult learners.

8. Results Emphasis

Ensure that you inform trainees what result they'll achieve through the training. Adults like to know the result that they're aiming for.

9. Perceived Needs

Adult trainees want to be certain that on job training meets their perceived needs. Before commencing instruction, make sure that you and the trainee are agreed that the training will satisfy the needs they believe they have.

10. They Are Adults

Treat adults trainees like adults, not children. They may have some knowledge and skill deficiencies that need your training. But they expect you to respect them as mature "grown-ups" not ignorant children.

These principles apply to all on job training, even if it's brief and informal. Ensure that you circulate this article to anyone in your business who's involved in on job training.