Job instruction training (JI) is a lean principle born out of the need for training and upskilling new industry workers, including women, during the Second World War. This framework was adopted by many firms to meet the demands of both United States citizens and the US Military.
The job instruction method is still used today to bring workers up to speed in a new position or to train on a new skill. This framework will help you and your team develop a system and procedure for on-the-job training. While the purpose of this training is mainly for frontline workers, the same ideas transpire to any position in the company.
In a recent chat for USA Manufacturing Hour on Twitter, host Chase Bodor from Plastic Plus Technologies in California led a discussion about this very topic.
Before Giving Instructions
The discussion began with participants sharing what should be done before giving instructions to trainees.
Ruby Rusine from Social Success Marketing in California said, “Get to know the trainees. Inform them of the training goals & duration. Prepare materials.”
Host Bodor said, “On the money SSM team! That second point is super important - what are the goals for the training and why should it matter to them?”
Julie Basello from Radwell International in New Jersey said, “Have a plan and create clear instructions.”
Kati McDermith from Manufacturers News in Wisconsin said, “Many many things, but I like to lead with some high level product knowledge and glossary of common terms.”
Teitsch Kent Fay Architects in New York said, “Ensure you are prepared before informing others.”
Host Bodor said, “Yep! Leading a training session blind (or just not informed) can lead to a lot of headaches and frustration both for you and the trainee. Good catch!”
Kendie Bonner from Snaptron in Colorado said, “Set the stage for learning. Understand the current knowledge of the trainees on the subject.”
David Crysler from The Crysler Club in Michigan said, “Always start with why. Provide clarity on the why. Tell fun stories to illustrate the benefits of what you're instructing on and the horror that results from not using the information being taught!”
Michelle Riccetto from Brash Inc in Canada said, “Get to know the people and ensure you are properly prepared/organized (e.g have all required materials)!”
Emily Kite from Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. in Illinois said, “Before you start giving instruction, you should know what your expectations are. If you aren't clear with your expectations then the instruction won't be a thorough. “
Nigel T Packer from PelaTis Online in Wales, United Kingdom said, “Find out what the levels of understanding amongst the group is before starting. This avoids boring the ones more advanced and helps the ones that are starting from scratch.”
Jasmine Labelle from velavu in Canada said, “Always have a plan of action and make sure that you are addressing your audience correctly. Using approachable language that will be well received is a must!”
Chris Giglio from Rovere Media in New Jersey said, “Absolutely saving this slide. This simple information actually makes training way less intimidating.”
Host Bodor said, “Save it! It can get stressful/ anxious about training someone. I'm glad this helped!”
Pavel Stepanov from VirtuDesk said, “Prepare your objectives for the training and write your content based on them. You should already have a goal in mind before the training starts.”
VirtuDesk said, “Plan and prepare!”
Jason Moorefield from Southern Fasteners and Supply Inc in North Carolina said, “Make sure you (the trainer) are fully vetted and comfortable with the area being covered. Too often I see training done by those in position vs those with the skill set (in my own backyard too). Title does not denote capability.”
Amy.M.Anderson said, “And capability does not automatically denote ability to train. Many a master lacks the patience and insight to bring a novice up to speed.”
Host Bodor said, “Before you give instructions you should:
Make a timetable for training
Whom to train...
for what jobs?
by what date?
Break down the job
List IMPORTANT STEPS (What)
Select KEY POINTS (How)
Get everything you and the trainee need ready
Arrange the worksite”
Preparing Workers for Training
The discussion continued with participants sharing their thoughts on how to prepare a worker for training.
Rusine said, “Build rapport. Level expectations. Encourage them to listen well & ask questions.”
Riccetto said, “THIS - there’s no such thing as too small of a question!”
Rusine said, “True!!! That small question can be the most important one.”
Bonner said, “Encourage questions and make then feel comfortable in the training. Also, making trainees truly understand the "why" is crucial.”
Nicole Donnelly from Donnelly Marketing Group in Virginia said, “Give them a plan or outline of what they are going to learn and what success looks like at each phase of the process. Break down each topic into smaller steps. Offer several different ways for them to learn (ie video, written and hands on)”
Host Bodor said, “Outlines are my lifeline, Nicole!”
McDermith said, “I love having an outline to keep with us so we know what we will go through and people we will meet along the way. Notebook and pen for notes and questions too!”
Labelle said, “I would say it's essential to discuss training intentions, objectives, and goals with the trainee beforehand!”
Riccetto said, “Prepare training materials! It helps with retention and can be their point of reference later on.”
Crysler said, “You can also supplement your handbook with quick videos that reinforce specific points.”
He continued, “The majority of people are visual learners and the statistics say people retain 80% of what they see compared to 20% of what they read, and only 10% of what they hear.”
Host Bodor said, “JI is in fact a TWI program David! I suggest everyone take a look at that video to get an idea of how a JBS works. Especially if you're inept at folding clothes like me.”
Crysler said, “Yep and it's my go to resource... even when you don't need to fold clothes!!”
Giglio said, “If your company has an employee handbook, having them read that could be a good place to start.”
Packer said, “Chris, every company should have an induction book for all employees. It is worth producing one as it highlights any anomalies and shows new employees that you are serious about their progress.”
He continued, “Before any training session, I have a short conversation with all attendees. I explain the day, the need for questions and find out their understanding of the subject.”
Bodor said, “Yep! Having a clear plan on how to introduce a new employee to the job is such a good asset!”
Brett from FreightPOP in California said, “Honest, open communication is a good place to start. Let them know the reason for the training, what you hope they will achieve, where their skill level is currently, etc. Also being prepared yourself is important!”
Host Bodor said, “I sense a skilled and empathetic trainer over there."
Teitsch Kent Fay Architects said, “We encourage trainees to ask questions whenever confused.”
Kelley Plats from North American Coating Laboratories in Ohio said, “Welcome them to the day of training! I like to start with the 10k view of what we're doing and give plenty of opportunities for questions and feedback. Also, check in throughout training to ensure that they are comfortable with a topic AND how its being presented.”
Host Bodor said, “Spot on! We'll talk about the feedback portion towards the end of the hour.”
Paulie Rose from RCF Technologies in Missouri said, “Give an outline of what will be covered in the training. Have them read relevant documents/manuals prior to training. Set clear expectations and a defined time table.”
Kite said, “Having clear expectations and a plan to ensure the worker or trainee will learn all the things they need to in order to do their job effectively.”
Stepanov said, “Get to know them first if you don't know them yet. It's great to build a positive relationship even before their training starts.”
Host Bodor said, “Here are 4 Tips for preparing a trainee:
- Put the person at ease
- State the job
- Find out what they already know about the job
- Place the trainee in the correct position”
Presenting the Job
Next, participants shared what they thought are the best ways to present the job or task.
Crysler said, “I believe the only acceptable answer here is: Process (Documented of course)”
Plats said, “With enthusiasm! But seriously, approaching the trainee with positivity and support, especially when something is new can be highly empowering. Also, be ready to answer those questions and provide support!”
Anderson said, “This is vital! Especially for annual required review/updates. There's always something to tweek or re-inforce during regulated trainings and the instructor's attitude is critical.”
Host Bodor said, “It's hard to get excited about training. So frame it around something that gives them a reason to want to learn. Maybe its a path to a higher paying position. Or leading a team w/ responsibilities. Find out what motivates that person!”
Packer said, “1. Introduction 2. Theory 3. Instruction 4. Demonstration 5. Practice”
Rusine said, “Hmmm... Discuss that skill, job or task in detail & answer questions. Do it step by step... to avoid confusion.”
Bodor said, “If they are asking questions - you know you have their attention! Plus it helps with comprehension as well.”
Brett said, “Nothing beats an in-person demonstration from an expert! Make sure you give the trainee an open, stress-free environment where they feel comfortable enough to ask any and all questions they may have.”
Labelle said, “The best way I learn is by doing it myself. So having someone explain the task to me and then following through with action.”
Kirsten Austin from DCSC Inc. in Missouri said, “Agree!”
Teitsch Kent Fay Architects said, “We like a hands on approach where we can demonstrate the task when possible.”
Host Bodor said, “Absolutely! Demonstration is crucial to the JI method. We demonstrate first using ONLY the important steps. Then repeat the demonstration at least 3 times. Then, have the trainee demonstrate it back to you!!”
Bonner said, “Clear and concise SOPs!”
Stepanov said, “Prepare a checklist of tasks. Conduct orientation sessions and why this job, task, or skill is essential and train them on each new task, one by one.”
VirtuDesk said, “Being endorsed with a new task can be overwhelming. Prepare them first by providing a checklist and going over them individually. Train them from the easiest task and gradually increase the difficulty level so they do not feel overwhelmed.”
Riccetto said, “Having someone who’s an expert in the field and well-versed with the job break it down for the trainee!”
Host Bodor said, “This. Having the experts on staff is great. Use them as the "go-to" person for the trainee's questions If you are the trainee, but not the "expert" - then interview the expert! Get their input on your training plan and all of a sudden you're an expert yourself!”
He continued, “Use clear, complete instructions without providing too much information.”
He followed up with, “Follow this pattern:
- Tell, show and illustrate the IMPORTANT STEPS one at a time.
- Repeat instructions, this time adding in KEY POINTS.
- Repeat a 3rd time stating the REASONS WHY the KEY POINTS are important.”
On the Job For The First Time
Participants then discussed what should be done when a trainee tries the job for the first time.
Basello said, “Coaching, feedback and review of training principles.”
Stepanov said, “Monitor their progress. Track where they are at. Provide feedback and coaching when needed.”
Teitsch Kent Fay Architects said, “Be encouraging and helpful.”
Brett said, “Let them actually TRY it on their own, assuming they are comfortable with the task at hand and failure won't result in anything catastrophic. Let them know you are there to help, but you want them to try on their own, even if they fail.”
Labelle said, “Safety first, make sure they feel comfortable, and reiterate that questions are always welcomed if they ever feel lost.”
VirtuDesk said, “Coach them. Also, give them time to strategize on their own. Once they identify everything they need for the task, monitor their progress. Provide feedback when necessary, and praise them for a job well done.”
Giglio said, “Watch them closely and see where the need improvement. Continue to work with them and make adjustments where needed. No one masters something in one training session.”
McDermith said, “Always been a fan of the see it, do it, show it method (watch it, do it, teach it).”
Kite said, “Coaching them on the job to help their first time be a good experience and give them confidence for the next time they do it alone.”
Rusine said, “A trainer needs to have patience for all these steps and remember that learning something new takes time.”
Crysler said, “Patience and empathy for the win, Ruby!”
Riccetto said, “Make sure you empower them, they may overthink or doubt themselves because it’s their first time so remind them that they don’t have to be perfect on the first try! Provide guidance if needed but let them do their thing.”
Host Bodor said, “And remember - the trainee is probably pretty nervous about messing up. This can be demoralizing. Be patient and preach perseverance.”
Plats said, “Give them space to perform the task and provide appropriate feedback at the right time. Be supportive, not judgmental.”
Packer said, “ I would make sure they were capable of the task before tasking them to do it. Let them observe a more experienced worker for a day before allowing them to do the task. In the past I would buddy the new employee with an experienced operator.”
Host Bodor said, “Right on Nigel. Job shadowing is a great way to learn a new gig. It gives a sense of "oh yeah I can do this!" and it's less isolating. Throwing someone in the ring without a sparing partner can be dangerous.”
He continued, “When the trainee tries out the job for the first time you can help them by doing the following:
- Correcting errors as they try out the job.
- Have the person repeat back the instructions exactly how they were presented with IMPORTANT STEPS & KEY POINTS.
- Have them repeat the process at least 3 times.
- Continue helping until you know they understand the job.”
The discussion concluded with participants sharing how follow up should occur with trainees.
Rusine said, “Give them room to practice what they learned. Assign a person they can ask for help. Welcome questions. Mentor/Coach. Praise a job well done.”
Host Bodor said, “Exceptional answer!”
VirtuDesk said, “You can ask them questions. Check how are they doing. Identify the challenges they are encountering with their tasks and help them come up with solutions by providing your best practices.”
Riccetto said, “Provide constructive feedback, ask about their experience and if they feel like they have everything they need!”
Host Bodor said, “Yep! And don't be afraid to let them do a bit of work on their own once they feel comfortable.”
Plats said, “At least at the end of each training exercise or when a training task is complete. You should provide this feedback verbally as well as written when appropriate. Follow up with the trainee the way you agreed to at the beginning of training.”
Bonner said, “If they're doing a great job, let them know that they are! If there is still room for improvement, provide help with further training and no judgement to get them where they need to be.”
Labelle said, “Chat with them! How are they feeling? How did they find the experience? Make sure they have access to a copy of any training procedures that were discussed!”
Brett said, “This is the perfect answer!”
Crysler said, “Regularly scheduled check-in's. This gives space for feedback on both sides. I also encourage using this time to ask for process improvement ideas... you want to use a new set of eye's and experiences to your advantage, not shut them down or dismiss them.”
McDermith said, “Agreed. I meet w/ new sales peeps wkly & ask the same questions every wk, I keep track of their answers & refer back.”
Stepanov said, “Yes to all of this. We usually conduct a monthly 1-on-1 session to ask how they are with their job and address challenges they have at work.”
Host Bodor said, “Here are some tips for following up with a trainee:
- Let the person work on their own.
- Designate an expert as the person to go to for help.
- Frequent check-ins
- Encourage questions!
- Provide extra coaching (if needed) and taper off once they can perform the job well.”
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