The Journey of a New Hire to Qualified Employee: What really happens at your company?

After weeks if not months of waiting for your new hire, she is finally here, finishing up 1st day orientation. Day 2, she’s all yours. Are you excited or anxious? The LMS printout of training requirements is overwhelming; even for you. Bottom line question running through your mind — when can she be released to task? Isn’t there a faster way to expedite this training, you ask? There is, it is called SOJT.

Structured on the job training (SOJT) is an organized and planned approach for completing training requirements. Yet for many line managers, they want their trainees now. Ironically, the faster you “push” trainees through their training matrix, the slower the learning curve. This in turn often leads to more errors, deviations, and quite possibly CAPA investigations for numerous training incidents. It’s a classic case of pay now or pay later.

This proactive vs. reactive dilemma is not new. Traditional OJT aka “follow Joe around” looks like a win-win for everyone on the surface. The new hire gets OJT experience, a SME is “supervising” for mistakes, and supervisors are keeping up with the production schedule. So what’s wrong, you ask?

[SOJT] is the planned process of developing task level expertise by having an experienced employee train a novice employee at our near the actual work setting.” Jacobs & Jones, 1995

After 6 months or so, the trainee isn’t new anymore and everyone “expects” your new employee to be fully qualified by then with no performance issues and no deviations resulting from operator error. Without attentive monitoring of the trainee’s progress, the trainee is at the mercy of the daily schedule.  S/he is expected to dive right in to whatever process or part of the process is running that day without taking into account where the trainee is on their learning curve.  The assigned SME or perhaps the “buddy” for the day is tasked with not only trying to perform the procedure correctly but explain what he’s doing and why it may be out of sequence in some cases.  The burden of the learning gap falls to the SME who does his best to answer the why.  

The structured approach puts the trainee’s needs center stage. What makes sense for him/her to learn what and when? The result is a learning plan individualized for this new hire that includes realistic time frames. Added to the plan is a Qualified Trainer who can monitor the progression towards more complex procedures and increase success for first time qualification success. Still too much time to execute? How many hours will you spend investigating errors, counseling the employee and repeating the training? Seems worth it to me. – VB

You may also like: Moving Beyond R & U SOPs

Jacobs RL, Jones MJ. Structured on – the – job training: Unleashing employee expertise in the workplace. San Francisco: Berrett – Koehler,1995.

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