Job shadowing is a training delivery method that places an employee who already has the skills with another employee who wants to develop those skills. Apprenticeships use job shadowing as one type of training method. For example, an apprentice electrician would shadow and watch the journeyman electrician perform the skills and tasks and learn by watching. Eventually, the apprentice would be able to learn the skills to do the job alone. The downside to this type of training is the possibility that the person job shadowing may learn “bad habits” or shortcuts to performing tasks that may not be beneficial to the organization.
Fortune 500 Focus
It takes a lot of training for the Walt Disney Company to produce the best Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Aladdin, or Peter Pan. In Orlando at Disneyworld, most of this training takes place at Disney University. Disney University provides training to its 42,000 cast members (this is what Disney calls employees) in areas such as culinary arts, computer applications, and specific job components. Once hired, all cast members go through a two-day Disney training program called Traditions, where they learn the basics of being a good cast member and the history of the company. For all practical purposes, Traditions is a new employee orientation.
Training doesn’t stop at orientation, though. While all positions receive extensive training, one of the most extensive trainings are especially for Disney characters, since their presence at the theme parks is a major part of the customer experience. To become a character cast member, a character performer audition is required. The auditions require dancing and acting, and once hired, the individual is given the job of several characters to play. After a two-week intensive training process on character history, personalities, and ability to sign the names of the characters (for the autograph books sold at the parks for kids), an exam is given. The exam tests competency in character understanding, and passing the exam is required to become hired. 1
While Disney University trains people for specific positions, it also offers an array of continuing development courses called Disney Development Connection. Disney says in 2010, more than 3,254,596 hours were spent training a variety of employees, 2 from characters to management. The training doesn’t stop at in-house training, either. Disney offers tuition reimbursement up to $700 per credit and pays for 100 percent of books and $100 per course for cost of other materials. In 2010, Disney paid over $8 million in tuition expenses for cast members. 3
Disney consistently ranks in “America’s Most Admired Companies” by Fortune Magazine, and its excellent training could be one of the many reasons.