Job Training Methods

The method by which job training is delivered often varies based on the needs of the company, the trainee, and on the task being performed.

There are many different ways to train. Indeed, entire books have been written on the ways to deliver training. How can a manager charged with training his or her employees choose an appropriate method? This article defines some of the most common training methods and reviews pros and cons for each one.

The method by which training is delivered often varies based on the needs of the company, the trainee, and on the task being performed. The method should suit the audience, the content, the business¡¦ environment, and the learning objective. Ideally, the method chosen will motivate employees to learn, help employees prepare themselves for learning, enable the trainees to apply and practice what they've been taught, help trainees retain and transfer what they have learned, and integrate performance with other skills and knowledge.

Other factors affecting the choice of a training method include:

-Age, gender, or level of education of the trainees

-Learning styles of the trainees

-Number of trainees

-Budget

-Trainer's skills and training style

Common group training methods include:

Lecture

A lecture is the method learners often most commonly associate with college and secondary education. Yet, it is also considered one of the least effective methods to use for adult learners. In this method, one person (the trainer) does all of the talking. He or she may use handouts, visual aids, question/answer, or posters to support the lecture. Communication is primarily one-way: from the instructor to the learner.

Pros: Less time is needed for the trainer to prepare than other methods. It provides a lot of information quickly when it is less important that the trainees retain a lot of details.

Cons: Does not actively involve trainees in training process. The trainees forget much information if it is presented only orally.

Demonstration

Demonstration is very effective for basic skills training. The trainer shows trainees how to do something. The trainer may provide an opportunity for trainees to perform the task being demonstrated.

Pros: This method emphasizes the trainee involvement. It engages several senses: seeing, hearing, feeling, touching.

Cons: It requires a great deal of trainer preparation and planning. There also needs to be an adequate space for the training to take place. If the trainer is not skilled in the task being taught, poor work habits can be learned by the trainee.

Seminar

Seminars often combine several group methods: lectures, discussions, conferences, demonstrations.

Pros: Group members are involved in the training. The trainer can use many group methods as part of the seminar activity.

Cons: Planning is time-consuming. The trainer must have skill in conducting a seminar. More time is needed to conduct a seminar than is needed for many other methods.

Conference

The conference training method is a good problem-solving approach. A group considers a specific problem or issue and they work to reach agreement on statements or solutions.

Pros: There is a lot of trainee participation. The trainees build consensus and the trainer can use several methods (lecture, panel, seminar) to keep sessions interesting.

Cons: It can be difficult to control a group. Opinions generated at the conference may differ from the manager¡¦s ideas, causing conflict.

Panel

A panel provides several points of view on a topic to seek alternatives to a situation. Panel members may have differing views but they must also have objective concerns for the purpose of the training. This is an excellent method for using outside resource people.

Pros: Trainees often find it interesting to hear different points of view. The process invites employees to share their opinions and they are challenged to consider alternatives.

Cons: It requires a great deal of preparation. The results of the method can be difficult to evaluate.

Role Playing

During a role play, the trainees assume roles and act out situations connected to the learning concepts. It is good for customer service and sales training.

Pros: Trainees can learn possible results of certain behaviors in a classroom situation. They get an opportunity to practice people skills. It is possible to experiment with many different approaches to a situation without alienating any actual customers.

Cons: A lot of time is spent making a single point. Trainers must be skilled and creative in helping the class learn from the situation. In some role play situations, only a few people get to practice while others watch.

Case Studies

A case study is a description of a real or imagined situation which contains information that trainees can use to analyze what has occurred and why. The trainees recommend solutions based on the content provided.



Pros: A case study can present a real-life situation which lets trainees consider what they would do. It can present a wide variety of skills in which applying knowledge is important.

Cons: Cases can be difficult to write and time-consuming to discuss. The trainer must be creative and very skilled at leading discussions, making points, and keeping trainees on track.

Simulations

Trainees participate in a reality-based, interactive activity where they imitate actions required on the job. It is a useful technique for skills development.

Pros: Training becomes more reality-based, as trainees are actively involved in the learning process. It directly applies to jobs performed after training. Simulations involve yet another learning style, increasing the chance that trainees will retain what they have learned.

Cons: Simulations are time-consuming. The trainer must be very skilled and make sure that trainees practice the skills correctly. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

Projects

Projects require the trainees to do something on the job which improves the business as well as helps them learn about the topic of training. It might involve participation on a team, the creation of a database, or the forming of a new process. The type of project will vary by business and the skill level of the trainee.

Pros: This is a good training activity for experienced employees. Projects can be chosen which help solve problems or otherwise improve the operation. Trainees get first-hand experience in the topic of the training. Little time is needed to prepare the training experience.

Cons: Without proper introduction to the project and its purpose, trainees may think they are doing somebody else¡¦s work. Also, if they do not have an interest in the project or there is no immediate impact on their own jobs, it will be difficult to obtain and maintain their interest.

Common individual training methods include:

Self-discovery

Trainees discover the competencies on their own using such techniques as guided exercises, books, and research.

Pros: Trainees are able to choose the learning style that works the best for them. They are able to move at their own pace and have a great deal of ownership over their learning.

Cons: Trainees can easily get side-tracked and may move slower than the trainer desires. It is also more difficult to measure the employee¡¦s progress.

Movies/videos/computer-based training

Content for the training experience comes primarily from a videotape or computer-based program.

Pros: It is easy to provide this training and the trainer can follow-up with questions and discussion. It is also easy to assure that the same information is presented to each trainee.

Cons: It is expensive to develop. Most trainers choosing this option must purchase the training from an outside vendor, making the content less specific to their needs.

On-the-job training

This is the most common method of training. The trainee is placed on the job and the manager or mentor shows the trainee how to do the job. To be successful, the training should be done according to a structured program that uses task lists, job breakdowns, and performance standards as a lesson plan.

Pros: The training can be made extremely specific to the employee's needs. It is highly practical and reality-based. It also helps the employee establish important relationships with his or her supervisor or mentor.

Cons: Training is not standardized for employees. There is often a tendency to have a person learn by doing the job, providing no real training.

Mentoring

A mentor can tutor others in their learning. Mentors help employees solve problems both through training them in skills and through modeling effective attitudes and behaviors. This system is sometimes known as a buddy system.

Pros: It can take place before, during, or after a shift. It gives the trainee individual attention and immediate feedback. It also helps the trainee get information regarding the business culture and organizational structure.

Cons: Training can be interrupted if the mentor moves on. If a properly trained mentor is not chosen, the trainee can pick up bad habits.

When choosing from among these methods, the trainer must decide which one best suits the trainees, the environment, and the investments available. Many trainers will choose to combine methods or vary them. Others will select a single method that works best for them and never vary. With so many options, a trainer is limited only by his or her creativity.

© High Speed Ventures 2011