The various training methods/techniques have been divided into two categories: 1. On the Job Training 2. Off the Job Training.
1. On the Job Training:
The most common method used for training non-managerial employees is on the job training (OJT). In fact, one estimate suggests that organizations spend three to six times more on OJT than on classroom training.
‘On the job training places the employees in an actual work situation and makes them appear to be immediately productive.’ On the job training methods embrace development through performance on the job, where organizational strength and constraints, human behavior and technological systems have full and free play. OJT has the advantage of providing hands-on experience under normal working conditions and an opportunity for the trainers to build good relationships with new employees.
Although it is used by all types of organizations, OJT is often one of the most poorly implemented training methods.
Three common drawbacks include:
i. The lack of a well-structured training environment
ii. Poor training skills of managers, and
iii. The absence of well-defined job performance criteria.
Training experts suggest the following measures to overcome these problems:
a. Develop realistic goals and/or measures for each OJT area.
b. Plan a specific training schedule for each trainee, including set periods for evaluation and feedback.
c. Help managers to establish a non-threatening atmosphere conducive to learning.
d. Conduct periodic evaluation, after training is completed, to prevent regression.
Broadly on the job methods include:
1. Programmed Instruction
2. Computer-Assisted Instruction
3. Apprenticeship Training
1. Programmed Instruction:
Programmed instruction is a method where training is given without the intervention of a trainer. Information is given to the trainee either in a book form or through a teaching machine. After reading each block of material, the trainee must answer a question about it.
Feedback in the form of correct answers is provided after each response. The programmed instruction consists of presenting questions, facts, or problems to the learner, allowing the learner to respond, giving feedback on the accuracy of his responses. If the responses are correct, the learner goes to the next block.
If not, he repeats the same. The programmed instruction is self-paced as the learner can progress through the programs at their own speed. The learner receives strong motivation to repeat learning. Material is also structured and self-contained offering enough scope for practice. However, in this method the scope for learning is less as compared to other methods of training. Costs of preparing books, manuals and machinery are also considerably high.
2. Computer-Assisted Instruction:
This method is an extension of the programmed instruction method. The speed, memory and data-manipulation capabilities of the computer permit greater utilization of basic PI concepts.
The computer aided instruction offers four advantages:
i. Provides for accountability as tests are taken on the computer so that the management can monitor each learner’s progress and needs
ii. The training program can be modified easily to reflect technological innovations in the equipment for which the employee is being trained.
iii. This method is more flexible in that trainees can usually use the computer almost any time they want, and get training whenever they prefer.
iv. The feedback from this method is as rich and colorful as modern electronic games, complete with audio instructions and visual displays.
But this method suffers from the disadvantage of high cost. But repeated use may justify the cost.
3. Apprenticeship Training:
Apprenticeship training is an extension of on the job training. With this method, individuals entering industry, particularly in the skilled trades such as machinist, laboratory technician, or electrician, are given thorough instruction and experience, both on and off the job, in the practical and theoretical aspects of the work.
Typically, the programs involve cooperation between organizations and their labor unions, between industry and government, or between organizations and local school systems. Although employee wages are typically less while the trainees are completing their apprenticeships, the method does provide compensation while individuals learn their trade.
Sometimes it is either impractical or unwise to train employees on the actual equipment used on the job. A simulation is a technique that duplicates as nearly as possible the actual conditions encountered on the job.
An obvious example is training employees to operate aircraft, spacecraft, and other highly technical and expensive equipment. The simulation method emphasizes realism in equipment and its operation at minimum cost and maximum safety. For example, CAE Electronics worked closely with Boeing to develop flight simulators in parallel with the development of the 777 aircraft.
The more widely held simulation exercises are case study, role playing and vestibule training:
(a) Case Studies:
The case method was first developed in the 1800s by Christopher Langdell at the Harvard Law School to help students learn for themselves by independent thinking and by discovering the ever tangled skein of human affairs, principles and ideas which have lasting validity and general applicability.
A collateral object is to help them develop skills in using their knowledge. The case method is based upon the belief that managerial competence can best be attained through the study, contemplation, and discussion of concrete cases.
The case is an actual situation written for discussion purposes. Analysis would need problem identification, analysis of the situation and of its causes. Trainees study the cases to determine problems, analyze causes, develop alternative solutions, select the best one, and implement it.
There could be several solutions to the problem, and each of these alternatives and their implications needs to be examined. Case study can provide simulating discussions among participants, as well as excellent opportunities individuals to defend their analytical and judgmental abilities. It appears to be an ideal method to promote decision-making abilities within the constraints of limited data.
The role play method requires participants to enact roles on the basis of a written script or an oral description of a particular situation. The enactment process provides an insight and understanding of the demands and situations of the assigned role.
Role play focuses on emotional issues rather than actual ones. The essence of role playing is to create a realistic situation and then have the trainees assume the part of specific personalities in the situation. The consequence is a better understanding among individuals. Role playing helps promote interpersonal relations and attitudinal change.
(c) Vestibule Training:
Vestibule training uses equipment that closely resembles the actual ones used on the job. However, training takes place away from the work environment.
A special area is set aside from the main production area and is equipped with furnishings similar to those in the actual production area. The trainee is then allowed to learn under simulated conditions, without disturbing actual production operations. The vestibule training relieves the employee from the pressure of having to produce while learning. The focus is on learning skills the job requires.
This method provides an opportunity to create an environment identical to real situations. However, the cost of creating duplicate facilities and a special trainer is a major disadvantage. Also it is difficult to simulate the pressures and realities of actual decision-making on the job. It is also found that individuals often act differently in real-life situations than they do in a simulated exercise.
2. Off the Job Training:
Off the job training methods include:
The lecture approach is well adapted to conveying specific information- rules, procedures, or methods. The application of audiovisuals or demonstration can often make a formal classroom presentation more interesting while increasing retention and offering a vehicle for clarifying more difficult points.
The lecture method suffers from possible lack of feedback and lack of active involvement of the trainees. However, these shortcomings can be removed by reducing the structured lecture format and following trainees to provide feedback to the lecturer or creating discussion groups under the direction of a conference leader.
In this method, the participating individuals ‘confer’ to discuss points of common interest to each other. A conference is fundamental to most participative group-centered methods of development. It is a formal meeting conducted in accordance with an organized plan, in which the leader seeks to develop knowledge and understanding by obtaining a considerable amount of oral participation of the trainees.
It emphasizes on small group discussions, on organized subject matter, and on the active participation of the members involved. Learning is facilitated by building up on the ideas contributed by the conferees. This method is ideally suited for the purpose of analyzing problems and issues and examining them from different viewpoints.
It is an excellent method for the development of conceptual knowledge and for reducing dogmatism and modifying attitudes because the participants develop solutions and reach conclusions, which they willingly accept.
(c) Group Discussions:
Group discussion, is an established method for training.
It is conducted in several ways:
i. It may be based on a paper prepared by one or more trainees on a subject selected in consultation with the person in charge of the discussion. It may be a part of a study or related to theoretical studies or practical problems. The trainees read their papers, and this is followed by a critical discussion. The chairman of the seminar summarizes the contents of the papers and the discussions which follow their reading.
ii. It may be based on the statement by the person in charge of the seminar or on a document prepared by an expert, who is invited to participate in the discussion.
iii. The person in charge of the group discussion distributes in advance the material to be analyzed in the form of required readings. The seminar compares the reactions of trainees, encourages discussion, defines the general trends and guides the participants to certain conclusions.
iv. Valuable working material may be provided to the trainees by actual files. The trainees may consult the files and bring these to the seminar where they may study in detail the various aspects, ramifications and complexities of a particular job or work or task.