10 Best Practices to Support On-The-Job Training

Read this blog post for a framework to design on-the-job corporate training, so your face-to-face classroom training is more effective.

Published on 10 September, 2018 | Last modified on 1 November, 2022
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On-the-job training is just as important, if not more so, as classroom experiences. The 70:20:10 model from the Center for Creative Leadership prescribes a whopping 90% of training as on-the-job. Yet, because you can’t show up beside every learner’s desk every day, it is much more difficult to plan, not to mention to demonstrate its results.

Kathy Granger from the Fort Hill Company shared her best practices for designing and embedding on-the-job training in our webinar, Top 10 Ways to Turn Learning into Improved Performance.

Here are the 10 takeaways for fostering on-the-job training:

  • Begin with Performance Gaps

As with any training, begin by identifying the gap between what learners currently do and what they should do. Then define the specific improvements you want to create from your training. Finally, communicate what those performance outcomes will look like so everyone involved knows the common goal.

  • Set Expectations with Stakeholders

When communicating with your learners and their managers, make it clear that the goal is improved performance, not whether they show up to the face-to-face training. Tell your learners that you expect them to take action after class, and prepare them for what those actions might be.

Be sure to communicate outside the classroom, too. Work with managers before and after to set expectations around effort and results. Suggest to managers that they meet with participants before your formal learning. And be sure to get some executive sponsors involved to communicate why training is important to the organization and to set expectations of accountability.

  • Focus Learner Actions

Now that you have set expectations, give very clear instructions to your learners on what actions you expect them to take. Rather than telling them you hope they talk to a team member about learnings from class, give them tasks and a timeframe for each challenge. Kathy recommends designing a learning campaign to guide application so both you and learners know what is coming next. And be sure to include opportunities for social learning within the cohort.

  • Keep Actions Top of Mind

Your time frame may be a week, a month, or longer, and don’t forget your learners are working full-time jobs, too. Send periodic nudges to remind your learners of their tasks. Kathy also recommends setting milestones as goals for your learners.

  • Capture and Share Evidence of Progress

Nothing creates motivation like a good success story. Make sure it is easy for you to capture and report on the learner progress. Kathy recommends a collaboration platform so managers and participants can post progress, too. Encourage multimedia storytelling – like creating a photostory demonstrating mastery of a skill, or a video that shows the learner practicing roleplay – so peers can really see each other doing the work of learning.

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Capture Evidence of Progress
  • Embed Performance Support in Work

Your learners won’t remember every detail you cover during formal learning. Provide job aids, checklist, wizards, guides, or other appropriate materials as “just-in-time learning.” By focusing on this material, you can also cut down on covering the nitty-gritty details during formal learning.

  • Activate and Encourage Social Learning

Social learning is a great motivator for peers to collaborate and compete. Use shared challenges to encourage learners to work together and share ideas. You may even identify exemplary performers to serve as subject matter experts, and recruit them to do refresher sessions with their peers. With every step, don’t forget to give managers clear guidelines on how to support practice on-the-job so they know how to encourage good learning behavior.

  • Track and Share Real-Time Metrics

Modern professionals are attuned to big data and metrics, so be sure to plan on capturing and sharing real-time metrics. Kathy suggests testing before and after formal learning to show early action. Create a metric standard like a Learning Outcomes Index that takes into consideration multiple factors including participant engagement and collaboration. Then share those metrics alongside quantitative stories from step 5 as progress updates.

  • Verify Improved Performance

Now that your learners have been participating in informal learning, it’s time to return to the end-goal: improved performance. Encourage visible demonstration of new behavior and results on-the-job. Work with managers, coaches, and mentors to validate performance outcomes. Share these success stories with your sponsors to demonstrate the effectiveness of your training program.

  • Scale with Technology

Finally, Kathy recommends investing in technology to support this strategy en-scale. There are multiple tools out there to distribute reinforcement training, send quizzes, capture results, and encourage peer collaboration (including Fort Hill), so your team doesn’t have to be drained by fostering on-the-job training.

On-the-job training will happen whether or not you cultivate it, so it makes sense to develop a strategy around productive on-the-job training that will support your goals, not counteract them. These 10 best practices are a great way to get started.


[Webinar] Top Ten Ways to Turn Learning into Improved Performance

Hear more about turning learning into improved performance with our free on-demand webinar.

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Mimeo Marketing Team

Mimeo is a global online print provider with a mission to give customers back their time. By combining front and back-end technology with a lean production model, Mimeo is the only company in the industry to guarantee your late-night print order will be produced, shipped, and delivered by 8 am the next morning. For more information, visit mimeo.com and see how Mimeo’s solutions can help you save time today.

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