On-the-Job Training

Developing a Hands-On Training Program

Learn hands-on training strategies.

© iStockphoto/nyul

If you're in a leadership or management position, think about how you train your people in new skills. You'll probably use a mixture of training methods, including on-the-job training.

But when is on-the-job training appropriate? And do you know how to structure it effectively, so that your people and your organization get the greatest benefit from it?

In this article we'll explore on-the-job training. We'll look at where it works best, and we'll show you how to set up an effective training program for your team or organization.

On-the-Job Training

This type of training happens when a team member (trainee) works alongside a more-experienced colleague (trainer), so that he or she can learn new skills under normal working conditions.>

As such, it's probably the oldest form of career development. For centuries, people have been learning how to do a job by working with, or observing, someone more knowledgeable and experienced. It's still the most widely used training method today, and is suitable for many types of workplaces.

There are two forms of this type of training: unstructured and structured.


Unstructured on-the-job training is "free form." It mostly consists of the trainer acting as a guide or mentor to the trainee throughout the working day.

The trainer teaches vital knowledge and skills, and then allows the trainee to learn through trial and error. The trainer, along with a manager, offers feedback and suggestions for improvement on an ongoing basis.


Structured on-the-job training still takes place in the work environment, but differs in that it is better planned. For example, trainers may deliver presentations and lectures; may recommend reading materials; or may provide instructive questionnaires to help the trainee to learn new skills.

The trainee then applies what she's learned in the workplace. The trainer inspects work or shadows the trainee, and offers feedback and suggestions, as with unstructured on-the-job training.

Advantages of On-the-Job Training

One of the biggest advantages of this approach to training is that

Access the Full Article

This resource is only available in full within the Mind Tools Club.

Learn More and Join Today

Already a Club member? Log in to finish this article.
Add this article to My Learning Plan

Where to go from here:

Join the Mind Tools Club

Click to join Mind Tools
Printer-friendly version
Return to the top of the page

Your Score
Create a Login to Save Your Learning Plan

This ensures that you don’t lose your plan.

Connect with…

Or create a Mind Tools login. Existing user? Log in here.
Log in with your existing Mind Tools details
Lost Username or Password
You are now logged in…

Lost username or password?

Please enter your username or email address and we'll send you a reminder.

Thank You!

Your log in details have been sent to the email account you registered with. Please check your email to reset your login details.

Create a Mind Tools Login
Your plan has been created.

While you're here, subscribe to our FREE newsletter?

Learn a new career skill every week, and get our Personal Development Plan workbook (worth $19.99) when you subscribe.

Thank You!

Please check your Inbox, and click on the link in the email from us. We can then send you the newsletter.