Learning on-the-Job

Significant learning often occurs "in the work." Some approaches for on-the-job learning are described below.

Organizations can encourage on-the-job learning through the following:

  • Orientation and On-Boarding: Entering a new role is an optimal time to develop a professional network and gain a full understanding of expectations about a job role. Departments can set up an orientation process for new employees that include a “buddy” who serves as a sounding board, makes recommendations for outreach meetings, and provides access to resources. These “quick start” mechanisms help employees gain entry, learn the culture, and become productive.

For more onboarding resources, visit Staffing Services "Manager's Toolbox"; HR Partners website

  • Development Guides: A "development guide" is a blueprint for developing skills and knowledge needed for a particular job role or job family. These learning "maps" typically include the following elements:
    • Role-based skills, knowledge, and personal attributes needed for successful performance
    • Seminars, courses, readings, and online resources
    • Experience-based learning activities, such as assignments, project teams or committee work
  • Development Coaching: As part of supervisory, management, and leadership development programs, individual coaching helps managers and leaders apply their learning and manage transitions to new assignments resulting from organizational changes.
  • Job Rotations, Shadowing, and Internships: Opportunities occasionally arise for departments or teams to create a structured learning opportunity. Examples include: reorganizations, new departmental services, job expansion, staff leaves of absences, and planned retirements. Depending on the organizational need, job shadowing, job rotations, or internal “internships” can be an effective way of expanding the skills and experience of current employees.

To further explore strategies for on-the-job learning, contact oed-request@mit.edu.