Book review: Improving On-the-Job Training

If you've ever wondered whether it's better to send your employees away for training or keep them under your wing, then the book, <I>Improving On-the-Job Training</I>, could certainly help you make the right choice.

What’s the best way to train your employees? Should you send them off-site for formal training, or should you keep them on-site for on-the-job training (OJT)? Improving On-the-Job Training: How to Establish and Operate a Comprehensive OJT Program by William J. Rothwell and H. C. Kazanas might just convince you that creating your own OJT program might provide the best return on your investment.

Pleasant surprise
When I picked up this book, I was expecting a basic explanation of how to create an on-the-job training program. I was pleasantly surprised to find much more than a simple description of OJT.

The authors examine the crucial management and organizational issues that aid in the process of improving performance and increasing profitability. Once I started reading the preface and saw the pre-test that was included, I knew this was my type of book.

The pre-test helps determine if an organization has established a foundation for an OJT program before wasting money on a training method that is not right for the employees’ needs. Questions in this pre-test include:
  • Have the program goals been outlined?
  • Have incentives/rewards been determined for those who conduct the OJT program?
  • Have the means to evaluate the results of the training been created?
  • Has a procedure for selecting alternatives or supplementing for the planned OJT program been put into place?

These questions help to ensure that you have all your bases covered.
Improving On-The-Job Training: How to Establish and Operate a Comprehensive OJT Program , by William J. Rothwell, H. C. Kazanas (Contributor), Hardcover, July 1994, $34.95. Jossey-Bass Publishers; ISBN: 1555426654.
Once you’ve determined whether an OJT program will work for your company, the next step is putting the right program in place. In order to help you create a successful program, the authors use the DAPPER model:
  • Discover needs: How to decide when and if OJT is needed
  • Analyze work, worker, and workplace for OJT: Customizing training to fit the employee’s needs
  • Prepare planned OJT: Developing the proper sequence of training actions
  • Present planned OJT: Conducting the training
  • Evaluate the results: Assessing job performance subsequent to training
  • Review and determine whether alternative aids are needed: Are programs other than OJT needed by the organization to improve employees’ performance?

The authors don’t leave you stranded with lots of theories and explanations and no real-world tips. There are plenty of useful tables, figures, and exhibits provided to aid you in creating your own program, such as:
  1. A task-training checklist that outlines the training strategy and training to be performed before the program begins.
  2. A learning contract to be completed by both the trainer and trainee, which helps to put the goals and objectives into perspective for both sides.
  3. Skill-Based Job Analysis Taxonomy that helps you effectively work with managers to decide which employees would be good candidates for OJT, as well as establish goals for the employees’ training.
  4. An OJT Reaction Worksheet that is an evaluation specific to the OJT training method.

Get your return on the training investment
The main goal of this book is not to tell you how to create a training program that “wows ‘em,” but to create one that can seriously impact the bottom line and increase performance.

No matter what fads may come and go, OJT has always been in vogue. If you’re thinking about establishing an OJT program in your company, this book can definitely help you get it off on the right foot.
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Susanne E. Krivanek is a training coordinator/analyst for Systems & Computer Technology Corp.,Education Solutions Division, who specializes in the development of software product training and certification programs. She has a training background in brokerage software, office applications, and business entrepreneurship, and she speaks on maximizing training effectiveness.

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