On Job Training: 10 Questions You Must Ask To Make It Work


On job training occurs in every business. Even sole traders have to learn to use equipment and software. In a business with employees, on job training is normal … and essential.

Who’s Involved?

On job training usually involves two employees: a trainer and a trainee. The trainer may be a manager or a co-worker. Trainers rarely have formal training in instructional techniques.

Does It Work?

We assume that on job training is always successful …. until it becomes apparent that it isn’t. Even then we tend to believe that the fault lies with the employee being trained rather than the trainer. When this happens a common response is to repeat the training that hasn’t worked!

The Foundation Of On Job Training

Successful on job training relies entirely on this premise: at the end of the training the trainee must know what the trainer knows and be able to do what the trainer can do.

The 10 Questions

1.    Is the trainer competent in the skill that he or she is providing instruction in?

2.    Do the objectives of the training specify precisely what the trainee will be able to do at the end of the training?

3.    Do the objectives clearly specify how the skills involved will be measured?

4.    Has the trainer prepared a detailed training plan including time involved, objectives, practice and presentation methods?

5.    Does the training plan clearly state the exact practice that the trainee must do to demonstrate competence?

6.    Are effective feedback techniques including in the training design to ensure that trainee feedback is encouraged and respected?

7.        Does the trainer have demonstrable skills in designing and delivering on job training?

8.    Does the trainer accept that if the trainee doesn’t display competence in the skills involved, the problem is in the training not the trainee?

9.    Does the trainer accept that their knowledge and competence to perform a particular skill does not mean that they’re competent to successfully instruct others in that skill?

10.  Do all parties involved, including managers, accept that the only realistic measure of on job training success is the effective demonstration of the skills involved on the job by the trainee?

The Technology Trap

In recent years, various presentation technologies have emerged to help trainers deliver training. I call this “The Technology Trap”. It’s commonly believed that if you can use these technologies, they’ll make up for lack of instructional skills. This is simply incorrect. No  amount of “bells and whistles” and audio visual devices will compensate for poor planning, imprecise objectives and lack of instructional skill.

The Penalties Are Severe

If your on job training is inadequate your business will suffer.

  • It’ll cost more: training will take longer and need to be repeated.
  • Trainees, particularly new employees, will be de-motivated because they fail to learn how to do their jobs properly.
  • You’ll be misinformed. You’ll be told that instruction has been successful when it hasn’t. You’ll make decisions based on that information.
  • Trainer limitations will be reinforced. For instance, technicians will believe that technical knowledge and skill is all they need to become good instructors.
  • The importance and value of sound on job training in your company will be diminished. Employees will have little faith in on job training. It’s far too important to business success to permit this to happen.


The importance of sound on job training cannot be overstated as a contributor to overall business success. But you as manager must take the lead to ensure that it’s importance is accepted by all employees.

What To Do Now

Check any job training that’s occurring now or that occurs regularly in your business. Ask the 10 questions above. Let me know whether you’re happy with what you find. Please leave your comments below.

Please remember to click on the “Resources” tab in the navigation bar to find other resources to help you improve on job staff performance.

2 Responses to On Job Training: 10 Questions You Must Ask To Make It Work
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