On-the-job Training in Action

On-the- job training can be hard to imagine for many of our new Business English trainers. What exactly  is  the DMAIC cycle? And what does on-the-job training really mean. We’re going to regularly update you on some of the on-the-job work we’ve been doing each month to give you a clearer idea. Most of us deal with a wide range of material, and all of us have signed confidentiality clauses as we are privy to some really confidential information.

So, what do we actually do?

Without showing you the texts we’re given it’s difficult to be specific about this, but let me try anyway. The idea is that we aim to help as quickly as possible, so as trainers we need to be as flexible as possible and accept that we might never be able to achieve what we set out to do at the beginning of the day as our agenda gets shifted by the clients‘ needs. As an example, here are a few things I did in terms of on-the-job work last week:

A) I helped someone with their email correspondence to a demanding partner in the States (in this email chain the tone was becoming increasingly heated and it was particularly important to achieve a firm but not overly direct tone — the American was also getting a bit wound up, but I couldn’t do much about that).

B) I helped someone review a draft of a circular regarding an update on the status of a project, and informing everyone across the company that they need to adhere to the attached guidelines. This circular is to be sent out by a board member to all divisions in a multinational — understandably, my participant was keen to make sure that the English was perfect both in terms of style and accuracy.

C) A new lady joined one department I work in this month and has to give two presentations next week in English to senior management. As you can imagine, she’s nervous. She prepared what she wanted to say in advance of our meeting, and we went through it with her giving the presentation the way she had planned to (which was pretty good) . This gave me an opportunity to pick up on any errors that were important to her overall performance but, perhaps more importantly, consider how she could improve the level of language she was using to further improve her style. I gave her relevant feedback, and she did the presentation again.

Why do we do it like this?

Because we’re really able to help the clients with exactly what they need — and in combination with classroom training based not on coursebook content, but rather on their real and changing needs — we can help them directly.

What does the client get out of it?

To name but a few: a boost in confidence, the certainty that documents they are producing or presentations they are giving are really accurate, an improved image, credit from their bosses — the list goes on.

What does the trainer get out of it?

The certainty that what you are covering, whether it is in the on-the-job interactions or in training sessions, is immediately relevant and useful. However much you supplement, you are never going to get the same feeling by working your way through a coursebook.

The reward of having really helped them and the resulting level of motivation; the excitement of actually seeing them put what you’ve taught into action. I can’t wait for next Wednesday, as I’m going to a training session on process changes that two of my participants have prepared with me for over a hundred people. They’ve already run it with confidence in the States, Brazil and China, and this is the European session. I think I’m more nervous than they are, and the added bonus is that it’s going to give me bags of material for our training sessions over the next few weeks! Next time, I’ll let you know how it went.