The use of this popular phrase began in about 1969 when it referred to the use of computers in education. Today we see it used with many nouns each having a little different meaning. Hands on is considered an adjective. An adjective is usually added to or related to a noun to modify or describe it.
“Hands-On Experience” Meaning:
The adjective “hands on” has two meanings ways it is used.
In this sense, hands on means to be actively involved with other people in deciding and doing activities, especially work-related activities.
- My boss is a hands-on manager he likes to be involved and know what is going on.
In this context hands-on is used to describe the process of getting or obtaining something that has not been gotten from receptive type activities (reading, watching. listening), rather the ability or knowledge is gained by doing something: hands on experience, training, education.)
- I believe it is important not to just have the book smarts, but also to have some hands-on experience so that I can apply the information I read about.
- His hands-on experience is a real asset to the company.
Bill: Hey Anne, great to see you. How are you?
Anne: I’m great Bill, I just finished my MBA and now hoping to get to work and get some hands-on experience.
Bill: Congrats! During the MBA program, did you get an opportunity to do some hands-on experience?
Anne: Yes, a little. I wish we had a little more variety of the hands-on experience work placements.
Other words you can create: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc. (ex: mug – mugger)
Work experience, accumulated period of work, career history, job-related, experience in working, on-the-job experience, professional experience, practical experience.
“Hands-On Equations” Meaning:
Hands-on Equations is a specific program that supplements education math programs. The program uses the visual and kinesthetic instructional approach. The goal of the program is to enhance students’ self-esteem and interest in mathematics.
- I just started my students on the hands on equations program and they love it!
- Have you ever tried the hands-on equations program? It is a different and more hands-on type of learning mathematics.
Betty: Hey Archie, have you ever hears of hands-on equations?
Archie: Nope, what is that?
Betty: It is a really interesting way of helping kids understand and demystify learning Algebra.
Archie: Really? I hated Algebra, it was so boring!
Betty: Yeah, the hands-on program uses a game-like approach and really engages students.
Archie: Wow, I wish they had something like hands-equations when I was in school.
Betty: Yeah, me too!
“Hands-On Physical Therapy” Meaning:
When we speak about hands-on physical therapy we referring to an area of the profession that is manual therapy. It is a clinical approach that uses specific hands-on methods to treat and identify musculoskeletal pain and symptoms of an injury and/or illness.
- I just went to my Physical Therapy appointment and she tried hands-on physiotherapy on me called Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy.
- We specialize in Hands on Physical Therapy or what many people call Manual Therapy.
John: Hi Dr. Bragg, I am wondering if I could speak to you about my research project.
Dr. Bragg: Sure John, come in and sit down. How can I help?
John: Well, I have been thinking about a topic and I am really interested in Hands-On Physical Therapy.
Dr. Bragg: Ahh, Yes. In my day, we called it manual therapy. Why are you interested in this area of therapy?
John: Right, I read that. I am interested in the topic because I really like the idea of actually working with the patient and using my hands to improve joint and soft tissue problems.
Dr. Bragg: Well, if you like the idea of physical and hands-on treatment, certainly this is the area for.
Synonyms (other ways to say):
- Manual Therapy
“Hands-On Deck” Meaning:
If you heard your boss say: We need more hands-on deck?” What would you think? Originally the phrase was “all hands-on deck” and literally it is a call from a boatman for all sailors to immediately go to the deck of the ship. Obviously, this is naval saying but we use it in a figurative sense in a similar way.
The phrase is more commonly used in the business world and has been shortened to “all hands.” A company manager might request “all hands-on deck” meeting, so everyone is expected to attend. HRD of a company might say we need more hands-on deck, and they hire more people.
- Where is Tony and Bob? This is a mandatory all hands-on deck meeting, I expected everyone to be here!
- We will be cleaning the house today and I expect all hands-on deck so we can get it cleaned and we can then go out for dinner.
Fran: Hey Tim. What happened to you today?
Tim: What do you mean?
Fran: You were not at the meeting and Mr. Thumbs said it was aall hands on board meeting. Did you forget?
Tim: Ohh crap! I hate to point the finger, but that Ms. Knuckle told me about, but she didn’t say it was an all hands on deck meeting.
Fran: Well, I would have a talk with Mr. Thumb as he was upset with you and Jack Palm for not being there.
Tim: I will, and I am going to ask Mr. Thumb if next time Ms. Knuckle could send an email as a follow up to ensure we know it is an “all hands” meeting.
Fran: Yeah, I think Ms. Knuckles needs talk to Ms. Pinky in HRD as I think we need more hands on deck to help her. She is too busy.
Tim: Yeah, I think so.
Synonyms (other ways to say):
- All parties
- Every man
- One and all
“Hands-On Manager” Meaning:
Have you have had a manager that says he is a hands-on manager type? What does that mean? He likes hugs? Well that might get him into trouble. Some consider hands on managers as micro mangers and who do not respect the bounds of employee and manager.
Others, consider a hands-on manager as someone who is willing to get their hands dirty and don’t consider any task beneath them.
In any event it is the context and person meaning each individual has for the phrase. It is important that the term is clarified within an organization, so staff and managers have some clarity of what it is and what it isn’t.
- I don’t believe in the idea of being a hands-on manager. I trust my staff and take a hands-off approach.
- I really respect Mr. Thumb, he is one of those hands-on managers that is not afraid to get down in the pits with the employees and roll his sleeves up and helps.
Donald: Hey Mickey, what do you think of the new CEO.
Mickey: Hmmm I think he is ok. I am bothered by his comment of being a hands on manager and CEO.
Donald: Why is that? I think it is good that he is not afraid to get his hands dirty and help.
Mickey: Yeah if that is what he meant. I have had managers who have said that and they are micromanagers and don’t trust their employees.
Donald: Hmmm, yeah. I don’t think he meant.
Mickey: Let’s see, nothing worse than a hands-on manager who is always looking over your shoulder to make sure you are doing what he wants you to do!
Synonyms (other ways to say):
- Involved manager