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Anyone who’s graduated from school to the workplace knows there’s a big difference between “book learning” and on-the-job training. Whether you’re starting out as a carpenter, a teacher, or a software engineer, your first few days in a new job can be overwhelming. Job shadowing is one way to ease the transition and make new employees productive as soon as possible. It can also be a great tool to cross-train current employees, increase efficiency, and improve communication among different areas of a company.What is Job Shadowing? Simply put, job shadowing is spending a period of time with a seasoned employee, observing what they do during the course of their work day. It may involve sitting quietly by and taking notes on what they’re doing, listening as they explain what they’re doing and why, and asking questions as they come up. It might also include hands-on activities, attending meetings together, and discussing responsibilities and goals. Just as each job is unique, each job shadowing situation must adapt to the individual circumstances of those involved.
Allowing employees to spend a day job-shadowing someone in another department offers many benefits:
If you’re considering a job shadowing program for new hires, it’s important to choose employees with good work skills as shadowees. More importantly, they should be positive, approachable, patient, and able to explain what they do in simple terms. Set up a short practice session to evaluate their performance before letting them interact with new hires.
Setting up a job shadowing program for existing employees might start with a survey to assess the level of interest among your current staff. Where do they think the biggest gaps in communication exist? Would they be willing to spend a day or half a day job-shadowing someone in another department? If so, which departments would they be most interested in learning about? Armed with that information, you can start setting up a program that can have long-term benefits for your company and also for your employees.