January 26, 2018
Training is an Important Part of Your Quality Initiatives
Remember the kids’ game called “telephone” or “pass it on?” The teacher starts at the first desk in the front row and whispers a message. That kid turns and whispers what they heard to the kid next to them, and so on…until everyone in the class has heard the message. Then the last kid discloses the final message. And it is miles from what you started with! That’s what happens with your team’s knowledge of how to administer your ProFicient™ quality software system—if you don’t keep your training up-to-date.
Workers need to be trained fairly regularly. I’m not saying three or four times a year, but updates and/or reviews annually would suffice—to keep up with software updates, to be able to ingest tips and tricks from experienced users, to keep information fresh, to share ideas, and to be certain all your knowledge does not reside “in one basket.”
What generally happens in the manufacturing world, like in every other industry, is turnover. People leave, or move up, and new employees fill their roles. The new employees, oftentimes, do not have the opportunity to attend training. So, they are “trained” by their predecessor, or someone else with some “knowledge” of the software. Why all the quotes you ask? Well, let’s face it, most people learn software from a coworker, and it’s more than likely not enough.
Sometimes Training isn’t Really Training
What the new users tend to receive is anecdotal, task-specific knowledge from their predecessor. The person training them generally says something like “click here when this happens.” What’s even worse is when the new person is trained on someone else’s bad habits with the software. It’s perfunctory knowledge at best. And every time someone passes down the “training,” it’s like the kids’ telephone game all over again.
There’s no real training going on here. Period. And with a system as powerful as ProFicient, that’s a disservice—to your team, to you, your organization, and to your customers. And it’s no way to go about moving forward with improving your quality initiatives.
You could turn around one day and realize there is no one on your current staff who has been formally trained. Nobody has been to the ProFicient Fundamentals course.
I also regularly hear that managers will help train their new people; it’s part of their job description. I’m always a bit confused by this. Managers, generally speaking, are not using the system on a regular basis. They’re not up-to-date on the software. They’ve got dozens of other things to worry about on a daily basis, and how to correctly use the software is certainly NOT at the top of their priority list. And it shouldn’t be. So, again, the training is lacking.
What to Do
The obvious answer to this is to make real, live classroom training an ongoing part of your workforce development. Keep people up to speed with the latest upgrades and changes to the software. Make sure they really know the system, rather than just someone else’s bad habits. With formal training, your people learn the whys behind what they’re doing, and they might even surprise you with some great suggestions of how to improve the way your team utilizes the system.
I’ll use one of my clients as an example of how powerful formal training can be. One of my clients called asking for help. They had over 1000 projects in their ProFicient dB, and knew that was not very efficient. I knew it was not efficient at all, and that it was probably not implemented correctly from the beginning. Just a handful of projects should be sufficient, sometimes a few more, but not 1000. I engaged one of our Engineers to speak with them about on-site consulting services, to help them make their system much more efficient. Instead of purchasing consulting services, they decided to send some people to our ProFicient Fundamentals training class.
I called to follow-up with the client a few weeks later, to again suggest the consulting services, and the response was: “We won’t need it. After the class, our team reduced the 1000 projects to less than 50. The class was excellent and helped our team understand why and how to make the changes, which has made our system much more efficient.” My favorite comment from this discussion: “We had some of our operators dancing in the aisles when they saw how much easier it would be to use the system.” She went on to tell me they would now be sending two of their QA team members to our Advanced training class, so they can learn how to make even more improvements to their utilization of the program. How great is that?
It Pays Off
It’s pretty common knowledge that untrained employees are not particularly happy employees—because they feel inadequate, maybe even underachieving. And they’re probably not very satisfied in their work either. Untrained workers have a lower production value, too. The quality of their work is lower and of less value. And what we’re all in this for is quality, right?
Your untrained workers are less efficient. You end up spending more time (which equals money) and effort when employees aren’t fully or properly trained to perform the tasks they need to, or to fulfill their responsibilities. Let’s face it, it probably takes them longer to do their work.
And you lose time and money when they make mistakes. When an untrained worker makes a mistake, the work usually needs to be re-done; or worse, the less than stellar quality product is delivered to the customer—and someone has to answer to that. So, the bottom line here is that untrained workers can cost you customers. That’s the worst-case scenario. But don’t kid yourself, it can and does happen.
All these things add up to the fact that keeping your workers up-to-speed on how to best utilize your ProFicient software pays off. There’s no need to play the kids’ telephone game with your quality initiatives. And if you do play the kids’ telephone game with your training program, you are significantly increasing the risk of shipping poor quality products to your customers. And we all know today’s unhappy customers just love to post their displeasures on their favorite social media. Time to hang up the phone.
Learn more about ProFicient training.
Learn more about what’s in ProFicient upgrades.