Employee development is modified to fit the position, industry, job duties and employees’ career plans. Likewise, different forms of training are better suited for certain jobs, such as apprenticeships for skilled trades and mentoring and onboarding for professional occupations. Training or mentoring programs are flexible in terms of time and amount of instruction they provide. Commonly, apprenticeships and onboarding are for shorter, defined periods. Job shadowing and mentor-mentee relationships can support continuous employee development over an extended period.
Onboarding is an example of training for newly hired management level employees. This training can last several weeks and consists of interaction with various departments and colleagues. It improves a new manager’s appreciation for department functions, interdepartmental relationships and his colleagues’ responsibilities. A typical onboarding program for a human resources manager starts with learning the functions of the department he was hired to manage — getting acquainted with human resources staff and HR department functions. During an HR manager’s onboarding, it’s helpful if a staff member can take the lead while the HR manager is completing his rounds onboarding with other of the organization’s departments. This form of training is especially valuable for human resources managers because they learn firsthand the workforce challenges, staffing models and employee-supervisor relationships within departments the HR department serves.
When a seasoned employee teaches a relatively inexperienced worker how to perform job functions, it’s on-the-job training or an apprenticeship. This is usually skill-based training that involves learning processes or procedures for technical positions or jobs that require knowledge and expertise in the trades, such as building, construction or cosmetology. An example of apprenticeship training is when an employee studies under the guidance of a master electrician. She is assigned to learn through watching the master electrician perform tasks and as well as classroom instruction. During the early stages of an apprenticeship, the future electrician may do simple tasks such as drilling and laying out tools. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, she becomes a journeyperson — an electrician with the knowledge and skill level necessary to most electrical work. A journeyperson can become a master electrician with experience and further training.
One of form of job shadowing involves two similarly experienced workers with an interest in each other’s function area of expertise. An example of a job shadow pairing might consist of two human resources specialists in separate disciplines: one an expert in compensation and benefits, and the other an expert in employee relations. Both employees have five years’ experience in their respective fields; however, they are interested in expanding the breadth of their human resources knowledge by learning more about another human resources discipline. The job shadow experience facilitates bilateral instruction, meaning the employee relations specialist shadows the compensation and benefits specialist for a week. The compensation and benefits specialist then shadows the employee relations specialist for a week. This continues until each specialist feels she has a good grasp and understanding of the others’ specialty field.
The pairing between an accomplished executive and an aspiring professional is called a mentor-mentee relationship. These are not always formal relationships — they can be very informal, as a matter of fact. In some instances, a mentor-mentee relationship naturally occurs between two people and can last for quite a long time, especially when there’s a mutually rewarding connection between the mentor and the mentee or when the mentee has a sense of admiration for his mentor. An example of a mentor-mentee relationship is one between a law firm senior partner and a young associate. Throughout the relationship, the young lawyer learns the nuances of a law firm practice and how to be more effective in the courtroom. This type of mentor-mentee pairing can last for years during the young lawyer’s entire time on the partnership track.