JOB SKILLS TRAINING: 'LOW TECH - HIGH TOUCH'

These days we see a lot of Training Companies and Learning & Development consultants singing the praises of the newest online learning management systems. The pitch usually promises a boost in employee engagement and a step change in your organisation’s sharing, learning and operating results at a fraction of the cost of your current way of training.

I wish it was that easy! Sure, technology enablers have their place in managing learning and knowledge sharing. But don’t expect operating results to change just because you hook your employees up to a tool.

When it comes to improving job skills, low tech-high touch always wins.

Technology is great if your priority is spreading the word (awareness building or compliance) or training cost saving: making it cheaper to bring a new employee on board. Looking at the effectiveness of on-the-job training, though, it is usually less well suited.

The key to great on-the-job training is understanding the difference between knowledge (knowing about) and skill (being able to do well).

Whilst knowledge in many jobs is important, it is usually skill that makes the the biggest difference in operating performance. Knowing is not enough, we must be able to do well, consistently.

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The longer-term costs of not getting it right-first-time when it comes to on-the-job training by far outweigh the savings you get from automating training. On one hand, technology enabled training systems take a lot of time and effort to design, maintain, and update. On the other, the biggest costs are actually linked to 

  • long learning curves (it takes people a long time to fully master their job & work independently)

  • mistakes (leading to persistent, expensive scrap and rework), 

  • loss of productivity (people take a long time to figure out how to reach target speed or make the most off your production machines)

In other words,

When it comes to on-the-job training, it is "You pay me now or you pay me later". You cannot skimp on job skills training on your quest to growing value & performance.

And if you choose to pay later, usually it is with high interest

  • handling complaints (and the risk of customers leaving)

  • paying extra staff checking the work of others

  • need to increase capacity (people and machines) required to serve your customers

  • paying for, and handling, scrap and rework, leading to even more lost capacity

In operations we can’t allow ourselves to have new employees learn their jobs by trial and error.

It’s got to be right first-time. We owe this to our employees (happier, more engaged), our customers (greater value) and our shareholders (increased profit margin).

To pull this off, we need a reliable, effective job skills training system, not automation.


What does an effective job-skills training system look like?

For on-the-job skills training to be efficient and effective, it has to be thought-through, well prepared and standardised. If we want to get reliable, predictable operations performance, the training system shaping our most important asset - our people - needs to be equally rigorous in design and execution.

TWI JOB INSTRUCTION, one of the essential skills of High Performance Supervisors, makes it easy to deliver the required structure and attention to detail:

  • training inputs - content, instructor (instruction method) and the workplace itself - are carefully scripted and tightly controlled

  • trainees’ learning process is carefully managed, catering to a range of learning styles

  • outcomes, in terms of skills and knowledge acquired, are verified by the instructor

  • trainees are coached until the new skills and habits become second nature

By squeezing variability out of the training process and ensuring know-how (not just know-what) is effectively transferred, TWI JI ensures - hands-on - that your employees consistently apply the ‘one best way’ we know how to build products or deliver a service.

This drives improvement and boosts customer value, operating results & savings way beyond what automated learning systems could do for most companies.