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What is Job Shadowing?

written by: Vikas Vij•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 1/9/2011

Looking for an effective way to train new employees in your company? Take a close look at what is job shadowing and apply it to your organization wherever possible.

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    Training New Employees by way of Job Shadowing

    Concept of Job Shadowing For a business organization that is hiring new employees, it is important to have a good understanding of what is job shadowing. Among various techniques of induction and training of new employees, job shadowing is one of the most effective. As the name suggests, it primarily involves a trainee to be assigned to an experienced employee for observation, learning and assisting on the job. In some cases, job shadowing may also be preceded by classroom training and company orientation sessions in order to improve the trainee’s familiarity with the organization prior to his or her being assigned as a job shadower.

    Photo Credit: ljleavell

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    When is Job Shadowing Suitable?

    Knowing what is job shadowing alone does not serve the purpose. It is equally important to understand that job shadowing can take place at different stages in the career development of an employee. The most common and traditional form of job shadowing occurs when fresh trainees are hired by a company. At this stage, the shadow training process helps the new recruit to gain hands-on knowledge and experience about various tasks that he will be expected to perform on the job.

    However, job shadowing may also take place for an employee who is experienced in the field but hired newly by the company. In such case, job shadowing helps the new employee to gain an insider’s view of the organization before he actually handles a responsible position. In some cases, an employee may be transferred to another department or a new branch office where he may need to orient himself before taking up the charge of the new assignment. In such situations a job shadowing program may also be used successfully.

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    Maximizing the Job Shadowing Experience

    To attain maximum benefit from this experience, the trainee must remain attentive and inquisitive during the training process. He must keenly observe the personal qualities required to perform the job, the modes of communication used, tools and techniques applied on the job, and get adapted to the corporate culture and environment. The trainee must not feel hesitant to ask questions, note down useful tips and ideas, clarify doubts and seek introduction to other colleagues or team members on the job.

    However, a smart job shadower should also take care to maintain an excellent rapport with the mentor in order to gain maximum benefit from him. He should avoid unreasonable interference when the mentor is performing a serious task. He should always be respectful, punctual and show gratitude where required. He should display genuine enthusiasm for learning and win the confidence of the mentor to teach him the best tricks of the trade.

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    Being an Effective Mentor

    The mentor must understand the serious responsibility that job shadowing places on him. He must make an effort to perform his tasks as naturally and normally as possible so that the trainee gets a real picture of the job. He must be patient enough to handle all the queries and doubts of the trainee in a proper manner. He should motivate and encourage participation in the task from the trainee wherever possible.

    It is natural for the trainee to make mistakes and the mentor’s role is to point out the mistakes and advise correct approach at every step. Whenever there is spare time, the mentor should discuss the history of the organization and explain about its culture and values to the trainee. He may also cite his own experiences within the organization if it may help to inspire and guide the new trainee to higher pursuits and integrate his values with those of the organization.