On-the-job training

Published by rudy Date posted on May 26, 2011

We have an annual 15% turnover rate. To support our recruitment program these past five years, we have been doing an apprentice system designed to create a large pool of temporary workers that can be deployed anytime as soon as there are job vacancies. Unfortunately, we have limited success in moulding our apprentices to become regular workers. How do we remedy the situation? — Pink Rose.

To solve the problem is as basic as going down to its root cause and not focus your attention to the obvious. Let me explain further by telling you this story:

A young man joins a big corporate empire as a trainee. On his very first day at work, he dials the cafeteria and shouts into the phone, “Get me a coffee, quickly!”

The voice from the other side responds, “You fool! You have dialled the wrong extension. Do you know who you’re talking to?”
The trainee goes pale and says, “No, who is it?”
The voice on the end of the line continues, “It’s the company CEO.”

The trainee thinks for a moment and shouts back, “And do you know who you’re talking to, you old fool?”
“No,” replies the CEO, indignantly.

“Good,” says the trainee, and slams down the phone.

It’s a case of management not knowing “who” is supposed to be the problem. It’s like you who proceeded to ask for the solution on how to better implement an apprenticeship program, while ignoring the genuine and real problem of your high turnover rate.

The test question is if you have a low turnover rate, would you still proceed to implement such on-the-job training program for apprentices? I doubt it.

Therefore, your best and first approach is to solve the problem of high turnover in your organization, which can be started by asking the employees to participate in an objective periodic morale survey, say once every two years.

Regardless of your situation, there are a number of basic requirements that need to be fulfilled to effectively manage apprentices, temporary workers, probationary employees, and regular staff.

The suggestions that follow are designed at helping you stay on top of conducting on-the-job training without any distinction as to employment status and educational background:

1. Start by being positive when explaining performance standards.

Show your interest in working with the employees. If you care to be constructive, more often than not, people would respond to the best of their abilities. Remember that most individuals want to do their best, but they can only be nurtured if you show a caring attitude.

2. Explore several ways for an easier approach of doing the job. This includes changing difficult written instructions. Seek the opinion of the workers on how they will do things differently while achieving the same amount of quality and quantity. Doing the same job over and over again in the past is not a guarantee that it is the best way to do such job. Allow the people who are proximate to the problem to solve it.

3. Implement a standard work instruction that applies to all. Focus on slow-learners or those who are not producing according to target. But be open to suggestions if they discover something that requires less physical exertion and saves time, if not makes the job easy, or if it has something to do with the working environment, such as poor lighting or ventilation.

4. If a worker continues to perform poorly, consider changing some aspects of his job, if not transferring him to other work areas. Keep in mind that some people do certain tasks better than others. Sometimes, reassignment to a different job may be the answer when an employee is not working according to his current assignment. –Reylito A.H. Elbo, Businessworld

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ELBONOMICS: On-the-job training is not a substitute for employee motivation.

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