Developing the Multi-Craft and Specialty Maintenance Technicians You Need; To Specification,With Minimal Investment
Dr. Dave Just, MPACT Maintenance and Reliability Solutions
In the March, 2016 Proactive Technologies Report article, “Grow Your Own Multi-Craft Maintenance Technicians – Using a ‘Systems Approach’ to Training” I described how Proactive Technologies, Inc. and Mpact Maintenance and Reliability Solutions has joined forces to setup and implement the hybrid model of worker development for maintenance and technical support positions for their clients. The ‘systems approach” to worker development, as described, is simple in its structure but, also, includes the quality control points to ensure the worker development outcomes are reached. Although this approach can be used for any job classification in any setting, together we have applied this approach effectively for maintenance and technical support positions for many manufacturers over the last 2 decades.
We listened to our manufacturing clients. We heard the frustration they expressed in looking for highly qualified new-hire maintenance candidates when too few technical colleges offer a solid maintenance or maintenance technician program. The ones that either do not have content that is relevant enough or if they do, cannot graduate enough students to meet the demand. Employers realize they are, by necessity, a major part of the solution.
“The effects of ineffective training for 1 person can cost your firm more than the training budget for 10 employees for 10 years. Why take the chance with speculative training approaches that may not deliver anything more than cost and disappointment?”
The secret to success is in the “turn-key” approach. We understand that most small and medium-sized manufacturers have a very limited human resources staff, not to mention a non-existing training department. But they do have the subject matter experts who have mastered the training content, just lacking the training technique, materials and support. By applying the Proactive Technologies and Mpact expertise to set-up, implement, support, keep records and report training activity, the time the subject matter expert needs to make available for training new-hires and incumbents is minimized and the effects maximized. The investment needed is low, but the impact and return on worker investment is substantial. Read More
Stacey Lett, Regional Manager – Eastern U.S., Proactive Technologies, Inc.
If you spend some time in the Human Resources Department office, you often witness a supervisor or manager trying to explain why the new-hire isn’t working out. “Why do you believe that?” asks the HR Manager. The supervisor thinks a moment and says, “He just doesn’t act like he wants to learn.” The issue seems to be attitudinal. The HR Manager doesn’t bother to ask for any empirical evidence since it usually doesn’t exist, so the decision is made to terminate the new-hire and start all over…again.
Some, more forward thinking, human resources departments concluded that assessing job prospects might reduce the amount of hiring turnover. It certainly does help do that if the job classification was properly analyzed and the assessment instruments were aligned to the data for “job relevance.” However, even with the best screening potentially good employees might be lost. Knowing how to recognize the difference between attitude and training-related issues may save good employees from being lost due to misdiagnosis.
Whether a challenge to learning or performance is attitudinal is not easy to determine. Attitudes fluctuate from day to day, throughout the day. They can be affected by personal issues such as health of the individual, health of a family member, financial issues, relationship difficulties at home and the work culture (e.g. relationship with coworkers, supervisor and company management). Rather than hastily concluding any issue of worker development is attitudinal, I find it easier to eliminate the obvious and more common influence on worker learning and development; whether proper training has been conducted. After all, employee insecurity caused by feeling expendable while a 90-day probationary period clock is ticking can, in itself, affect anyone’s attitude and personality. If proper training is not available or worker development is conducted in an ad hoc, haphazard and inconsistent manner, this is a major contributor to worker attitudes toward the company, themselves and others in the workplace.
Assuming that the offered wage and benefits are competitive, there are four essential considerations to the hiring and keeping the best workers; the selection strategy, the learner’s capabilities, the instructor’s capabilities and the training infrastructure. Given the high cost of recruitment, selection, initial training efforts and separation, and heaven forbid a repeat of the process for the same job classification, an internal examination of these 4 components might go a long way toward reducing this cost and making the process cost-effective and efficient. Read More
by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.
One project I was involved with sought to establish a structured on-the-job training program for a “CNC Operator” position and establish an apprenticeship. It consisted of around 40 different machines; manual and NC-operated of several brands, controller types and purposes. When I analyze a job – task by task – I first contact the resident “subject matter expert.” It is my experience that in lieu of accurate standard process documents that everyone can use when assigned a machine, each operator keeps their own setup and operation notes. They are usually reluctant to share them.
As analysts, we assume that if the subject matter expert is assigned to us, it is a reflection of management’s confidence in the operator’s consistently high level of performance. We also learn a lot about the sub-culture that has arisen at the organization, bordering on “work performance anarchy.” Despite the connotations, this is a useful revelation. This lack of vital information sharing that has been going on can be eliminated. The collective wealth of task-specific information can be screened, validated, standardized and revision-controlled to be shared with all who are asked to perform the tasks.
This highlights several other pre-existing issues in addition to the obvious. First, if the company is ISO/AS/TS certified, an auditor would be appalled and likely “gig” the company for the use of uncontrolled “process documents.” Notes in toolboxes and lunchboxes are not revision controlled. If the company has even questionable process documents that they claim drive their “high level of quality performance” the existence of operator notes are a strong contradiction. A client visiting the site may have serious doubts about the practices, as well.
The next issue is, “what role do these notes play in the training of new-hires and cross-training incumbents?” Does the trainee even know these are available? My experience has been that each trainee is on their own to create their own notes…if they even think it is necessary. So now we have multiple sets of notes for each machine, seldom compared and standardized, AND the company’s process documents if they exist. This is a recipe for incidents of scrap, rework and equipment damage at a minimum.
It also appears that each trainee is on their own to learn the safe performance of each task. It is not enough to provide general safety knowledge learning. When a trainee is taught a task for the first time, it is then when they should be shown how to apply the general safety knowledge to the safe performance of that task. Once a pattern is established, the trainee will be able to better apply the safety knowledge to the safe performance of all tasks. If ways to avoid a safety incident are known, shouldn’t that knowledge be shared with each trainee so that no one has to be hurt when the odds of an incident are known and avoidable? Read More
Using Workforce Development Grants to Extend Your Training Budget
by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.
There are a lot of pressures on company training budgets that can arise these days. The company may be performing moderately well – numbers looking reasonably good in an economy that can be called “sluggish.” Shareholders react and a major realignment is announced. Departmental budgets must be reexamined and each department may have to explain their purpose and value to the company.
Companies, especially publicly traded companies, are driven by monthly scrutiny of their quarterly guidance upon which the trading on Wall Street is determined. In a sluggish economy, 12-month goals may never be reached if evaluated quarterly for 12-month outcomes. Nevertheless, the effort to cut costs to raise earnings finally reaches bone.
Training is especially vulnerable because accounting departments see little explainable value and hold the traditional view that these are “costs” that can be put on hold or eliminated – especially if the next quarter might bring a layoff of those scheduled for training.
If the value of worker training cannot be empirically explained during periods of budgetary angst, training, and those associated with training, are the first to be cut despite the obvious questions: “What if the economy comes back? Does the company plan to rebuild its training program and staff when it starts to rehire? Won’t the incumbent workers reassigned to take up the slack by layoffs need training for their new jobs?”
Companies rarely spend much time thinking of the ramifications of eliminating training during slow times. They often do not have a choice. So, training departments need to be relevant if they are to survive. They need to be able to explain their strategy to management, with a strong, empirical investment-return on investment component. If the case cannot be made in those terms, maybe the training department needs to redesign themselves or their cut might be justified. A deliberate structured on-the-job training program that is linked to engineering processes, quality specification and EHS requirements is harder to dismiss than a training strategy that based on an inexplicable selection of classes and seminars.
Another thing a training department can do is to research available worker training grants. Some are designated for new-hires, some for updating the skills of incumbent workers. Read More
Read the full August 2016 newsletter, including linked industry articles and online presentation schedules.