OJT Success: Building the Support Team You Need
On-the-job training or OJT is often seen as an informal process. In truth, it can be, but it does not have to be. In some cases, informal OJT efforts are all that might be needed – introducing a new employee to their daily duties does not require much in the way of formality, for instance. However, that’s the wrong approach to take in many other situations. For those, a formal approach is needed, which means you will need a support team, formalized structure, and strategy in place. It would also help to have an OJT tracking system to document your progress.
First, let’s discuss the program itself. How should it be structured? Just how much formality is really necessary? There is no hard-and-fast answer to these questions. In truth, you will need to conduct a brief assessment to determine the reality of your specific situation.
- Is our unstructured OJT plan delivering the results we need?
- Is there a need for OJT in our organization?
- Are our trainees achieving the level of success they need?
- Are our employees being held to the same standards?
If you are experiencing inconsistency, a structured OJT program is the answer. Creating such a program requires several parts, including:
- Identifying the leaders/trainers for the program
- Working with stakeholders to implement the program
- Developing or sourcing training materials
- Setting prerequisites
- Determining performance evaluation factors
- Evaluating program performance
In most of those steps, your OJT team will play a central role. What does that team look like, though? Who should be on it? Below, we’ll walk you through the key members of an on-the-job training support team.
Your OJT Support Team Breakdown
Training programs, even on-the-job training programs, need a team in place for them to be successful. A team fosters accountability, provides structure and organization, helps people understand who is responsible for what within the project, and much more. Ensuring that you have the right people on that team is critical, though.
Like many other initiatives, OJT programs require a champion. These are usually part of the C suite and are largely responsible for building awareness, securing buy-in from other C suite members, communicating the importance of the program, and other similar tasks. The champion is all about building awareness and acceptance, essentially selling the program to higher-ups. Without a champion, OJT programs can wither and die before they even launch. In addition to advocating on behalf of the program, the champion is usually involved in administering and evaluating the results of the program.
Where the champion handles awareness, advocacy, administration, and evaluation, the supervisor takes a more hands-on approach. This individual handles the overall day-to-day operations of the entire program. That can entail several different tasks depending on the scope of the program and the number of people involved. Some of the tasks that the supervisor requires to handle include the following:
- Deciding who to use as coaches
- Providing support for coaches
- Creating training plans
- Identifies knowledge and skills to be acquired
- Provides standardized training materials for coaches
- Teams trainees with trainers appropriately
- Evaluates trainee success/information retention
- Assesses coach’s skills
- Follows up with individual trainees after training
As you can imagine, supervisors are critical to the outcome of your OJT program. They must understand what to look for when choosing a coach, and that goes beyond subject matter expertise. They must also be able to communicate easily with people at different levels throughout the organization and knowledgeable enough to follow up with trainees several weeks after training ends to ensure that they can apply the skills and knowledge learned.
Depending on the structure of your OJT program, you could have a single coach for multiple trainees or a coach per trainee. In all situations, the coach will be the person responsible for:
- Walking trainees through processes to be learned
- Explaining not just how things are done but why they are done that way
- Helping trainees understand how processes learned also support the organization
- Organizes and plans the training
- Develops a relationship with the trainee
It’s important to note that many different people can act as coaches. For instance, managers are often well-suited for the role, as they often have the communication skills needed, as well as the experience and knowledge that needs to be imparted. Managers are also often well-acquainted with the daily specifics of the position, the department, and more.
However, managers are just one option. Other employees can also make excellent coaches, and in some instances, it can be beneficial for employees to build a relationship with other employees before creating one with a manager. Employees are often suitable for less formal training situations, such as job shadowing, but can be valuable assets in formal aspects, too.
Finally, you can choose to outsource your coaching/training needs to an outside subject matter expert (SME). However, this option is not right in many situations. Often, choosing a manager or employee is the better choice, simply because they are intimately familiar with the organization’s culture and other elements that speak to the experience of working for the company.
Finally, we come to trainees, who are arguably the most important part of the team. While requirements will vary based on the skills being learned, trainees should be interactive learners and are responsible for absorbing knowledge shared by the coach. However, trainees are also responsible for building a relationship with the trainer, whether that’s a manager or another employee. In fact, OJT has proven to be one of the best ways of strengthening team bonds.
Start Building Your Team
With a better understanding of the team required to move your OJT program, it’s time to start building. Be careful in your choice of team members, ensure that you have a structure in place for them to follow, and make certain that you have a way to track on-the-job training. At eLeaP, we offer a comprehensive OJT tracking module that allows you to monitor and manage your training efforts right from the main dashboard. Contact us to learn more about the module or how our LMS can fit your needs.