When I was a corporate accountant many years ago, new accountants were trained by several of the existing staff. Very little was in writing. Everyone in the department submitted information monthly to whichever accountant had responsibility for certain bookings.
For about six months, I had responsibility for some journal voucher. The first month, a couple accountants submitted their information in a manner that wasn't usable, so I took the time to change it myself. The second month I realized that I didn't want to continue fixing their submissions for the next five months, so I chose to meet with each of them to show them what we really needed.
I recall one person saying to me, "No one has ever told me that before. I've been doing it that way for a year." He was grateful that I took the time to show him how to create his spreadsheet with the required data, in a format we could use.
In this article we'll review W. Edwards Deming's management points #6 and #13:
Point #6: Institute training.
Too many workers learn their job from another worker who was not properly trained. Other times, "training" includes a set of confusing instructions.
Point #13: Institute a vigorous program of education and re-training.
All employees, including management, need to be re-educated in new methods.
Having a standard or pattern for training is what he's talking about.
After all of the sports analogies I've received and given to others, I'm going to give you a sewing analogy (please bear with me). As a "tween", when I was in my first few years of sewing my own clothes and projects, I learned the hard way about using a standard pattern.
There was something I needed in a quantity of about 12. It was something simple, like a length of fabric or ribbon. I used the pattern/standard to cut the first. Then I used the first to guide me in cutting the second, used the second as a guide to cut the third, etc. By the time I was done, they were not all the same length. The first two or three were the same size asthe pattern, but not the rest. I neglected to use the pattern each time to cut all 12.
That's what Deming means about changing the fact that usually different workers train new workers. A "standard pattern" is not used. It's like the game "telephone" that we played as kids. One person tells another person a phrase, the second tells the third, and so on, until the message gets to the last person.
The last person says out loud what he or she heard, and it rarely matches the original phrase.
Deming isn't saying that a worker shouldn't train another worker. He's saying if you are going to train new people, have some standard patterns for training them, such as one or two designated staff members who perform all of your training.
In addition, a well-written training manual is useful for standardized training. In Deming's point #6 he laments, "Often times, 'training' includes a set of confusing instructions." If you must write your own materials, find someone to create them for you, using adult learning theories and writing them specifically for your audience. It will make a big difference in how well your new workers learn and apply their learning to the job.
Training others doesn't come naturally to everyone.
There are many ways to "get into a learner's head" and a good trainer knows how to get there. Someone who can teach others knows how to start with what the learner already knows and to go from there. When choosing the people who will train your new workers, choose people who have the ability to explain processes to others, in a way that the listener can understand.
Deming's point #13 is about keeping all employees educated and re-trained. This is something that gets cut from budgets too often. Ed Deming believed cutting out education and training hurt productivity and profits in the long run.
Are there new ways of doing things in your industry?
Are your employees using a tool without utilizing its advanced features?
Are there management methods your executives could learn that would help them be more effective?
Consider instituting organizational change management and training development strategies at your company that include the elements discussed here.
Think about what's possible.
What are some ways you might implement such a program?
©2012 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.
Glory Borgeson, President
2012 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.
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