Job shadowing is actually one of the most common of all training techniques for new employees. Essentially, it involves spending a period of time with a seasoned expert, observing everything that he or she does that is related to the work that is expected to be accomplished as part of the daily routine of the job. Involving one new employee to act as the observer, and one person to function as the demonstrator, this allows the new hire a chance to get a handle of what is involved in performing the tasks associated with the work.
Job shadowing can commence at one of two points in the job training process. One of the most common is to assign the new hire to an established employee on the first day. The new hire may spend one to five days following the routine of the employee, learning general job responsibilities, observing how the tasks are carried out, and getting some insight into methods that allow for efficient handling of the job.
Another option is to implement the job shadowing after a period of orientation in a classroom setting has taken place. With this application, the shadowing allows the new hire to already have some background into the workings of the company, with the observation that is picked up during the shadowing building on that foundation of orientation. The combination of structured educational classes with the job observation of an employee with extensive work experience works very well in a number of settings.
The concept of job shadowing has many advantages. First, the new hire may often feel intimidated about performing tasks for the first time. By allowing the new person to follow a long time employee for a day or two, this can often build up the confidence of the new employee. Along with this advantage, job shadowing allows the new hire to see procedures and methods in actual situations. This can help to bring to life some of the scenarios that were outlined in the training materials, making them much more real to the new hire than they were in the safe environment of the classroom.
A third benefit of job shadowing is that the new hire often has a chance to begin building rapport with other employees, which can help to integrate him or her into the job team more quickly. Acceptance into the group can often help the new employee relax and focus on learning the best ways to get things done, rather than being apprehensive about fitting into the corporate culture.