What is the Job Relations Training?

Job Relations Training (JR) is the third program of the Training within Industry group.  It teaches supervisors how to evaluate and take proper actions to handle and to prevent people’s problems.  The focus is to train workers to solve personal problems with other coworkers. The process seeks to be analytical minus emotions. Also, the emphasis is on treating people as individuals and understanding people on all levels.  This class is divided into two parts, the foundation for good relations and how to handle a problem.  The outline below is taken from the JR card.

Foundation for Good Job Relations

People must be treated as individuals

  • Let each employee know how he is getting along
    • Find out and communicate the expectations you have. 
    • Point out ways to improve.
  • Give credit when due
    • Recognize extra or unusual performance, as soon as possible, while it is still fresh.
  • Tell an employee in advance about changes that will affect him.
    • If it is possible, start explaining WHY.  
    • Get people to accept the change. 
  • Make the best use of each person’s ability
    • Look for ability not now being used. 
    • Never stand in an employee’s way.

How to Handle a Problem

  1. Get the facts – Be sure you have the whole story!
    • Review the record
    • Find out what rules and plant policies apply
    • Talk with individuals concerned
    • Get opinions and feelings
  2. Weigh and Decide – Do not jump at conclusions!
    • Fit the facts together
    • Consider their bearing on each other
    • What possible actions are there?
    • Consider objective and effect on individuals, 
  3. Take Action – Do not pass the buck!
    • Are you going to handle this yourself?  
    • Do you need help? Should you refer this to your supervisor?
    • Watch the timing of your action and how will affect production, attitudes and relations.
  4. Check Results – Did your action help production?
    • How soon will you do a follow-up?
    • How often do you need to check?
    • Watch for changes in output, attitudes, and relationships.

The objective of this program is to build positive relationships between employees. It does so by resolving conflicts that arise in the workplace following a standard procedure. The foundation is the principle of treating each person as individuals. Also, it seeks to prevent problems from happening as a way to maintain a positive environment.

This module was the precursor of one of the continuous improvement or lean tenets, respect the people.  It presents honest, on-time, and effective communication as a way to prevent problems.  Other ideas that we know today as part of lean thinking are team development, making decisions based on facts, and reflecting on the result of your actions.  Let me remind you that this was written in the US in the early ’40s by the War Manpower Commission.  It is time that we put these ideas into practice again. You can read the original reference materials with this link.

Job Relations Training Summary Card
Job Relations Card

What is the Job Methods Training Program?

Job Methods Training (JM) is the second program of the Training within Industry group.  It teaches supervisors the procedure to improve how to do the job continuously.  It focuses on improvements to get more quality products in less time with the effective use of the resources available.   Supervisors and employees learn how to improve processes by breaking them down into smaller steps questioning each one as a way to generate improvement ideas.  

JM teaches four steps to improve the job, break down the job, question every detail, develop a new method for performing the job, and then apply it.  See the program summary taken from the JM card, at the end of the post.

The first step of the Job Methods Training is to break down the Job

  • Use the Job Breakdown sheet to list each step and detail of the job as it’s currently performed. 
  • Be sure to include all aspects of material handling, machine work, and work performed by hand.

Question every detail

  • Review the list of job steps and details and question each one. 
  • Ask questions using the 5W’s and 1H
    • Why is this necessary?
    • What’s the purpose?
    • Where’s the best place to do it?
    • When is the best time to do it?
    • Who’s the worker that’s most qualified/most appropriate to do it?
    • How is the best way to do it?
  • Also, question every other detail related to the job task, like materials, equipment, workplace layout, process flow, and housekeeping.  

Develop new job methods to perform the job

  • Eliminate unnecessary steps and details
  • Combine steps to reduce waste when it is possible
  • Put steps into the best sequence (order)
  • Simplify all details possible, like motion, layout, tools, and handling.
  • Work out and review your ideas with other workers
  • Write up a proposal

Apply the new method

  • Begin the process of getting change approved and implemented
  • Get approval based on considerations related to safety, quality, quantity, and cost
  • Implement change
  • Make sure people involved in proposing change get due credit or recognition.

If all this sounds familiar, is because it is.  You heard this before when we talk about how to create Standard Work to solve problems.  Once you prove the new method accomplishes the purpose of getting more quality products in less time using effectively the resources available, it is time to create the new standard.

Job Methods training program

What is Job Instruction Training?

One of the responsibilities of every leader is to develop themself and develop their team.   Job instruction training is a huge part of each person’s development. One of the dilemmas of every supervisor is how to facilitate effective training.  Is all the relevant information included?  Is the teaching method adequate?  Did the trainee learn the most important aspects of the work?

What is Job Instruction Training

The Job Instruction Training teaches supervisors how to train employees to do a job correctly and safely, while it can hit the performance objectives. With this method, the supervisor will learn how to prepare the training to make sure the learning experience accomplishes its purpose.  Also, it will learn how to train the team to perform necessary job skills, with an emphasis on how to do the job correctly and safely, reaching the desire productivity level on the new skill(s) as quickly as possible, and reducing waste.

You can think about this program as a “train the trainer” type.  The class is divided into two stages, how to get ready to train and how to conduct the training.   The following is a summary or outline of what each one includes as per the JI card.

How to get ready to train  

  1. Create a training timetable
    • Determine the skills your workers need to perform the task under study. 
      • Assess which workers already possess each skill.
      • Create a timetable detailing by what date you want each employee to learn those skills. 
  2. Break down the job into important steps and key points
  3. Have everything ready
    • Prepare equipment, materials, and supplies for training
      • Get all training materials ready in advance and check you have everything you need.
  4. Arrange the workplace
    • Have the workplace arranged the way workers should keep it. 

How to Conduct the Training

  1. Prepare the worker
    • Make the employee feel comfortable.
    • Talk about the job and see what the employee knows about it already.
    • Get the person interested in the job.
    • Make sure the worker is in the correct position (sitting, standing, etc.) to learn the job.
  2. Present the Job/Operation 
    • Tell, show, and illustrate one important step at a time.
    • Stress each key point and reason; instruct clearly, completely, and patiently, but do not give more information than the person can master.
      • Tell the worker how many steps there are in the job. 
      • Demonstrate the job, step-by-step.
    • At the end, demonstrate the entire job again.  This time, while performing each step, say what the step is but also mention any key point for that step.
    • Do this for each step in the job.
    • Demonstrate the entire job again. This time show every step and state each step, key point, and reason.
    • Pay attention to the worker. 
  3. Try out Performance 
    • Once you believe the worker is ready, let the worker try to perform the task.
    • Have the employee do the job, step-by-step
    • Correct any errors as they come up
    • Have the employee do the job again, this time with worker also stating each important step, key point, and reason.
    • Make sure the worker understands the job and steps
    • Continue until you’re sure he/she knows. 
    • Have the worker complete the task on his/her own. 
  4. Follow Up
    • Release worker from training, make sure he/she knows who to go to for help
    • Check in often, see how things are going, observe performance, encourage questions.
    • Stop periodic follow-up only when you are100% convinced the worker has mastered the job skill.

Job Instruction Training and PDCA

It is not a coincidence that each section has four steps. They go through a plan-do-see approach or PDCA.  The chart below illustrates this point.   

PDCA and Job Instruction training
Job Instruction Program and PDCA

This procedure provides a structure for the training program.  This standard is clear and simple, as it should be, and you can use it in any industry.  If you want to learn more about this, you can read the original session outline and training material from the War Manpower Commission. Try it, and make this procedure your standard for designing and facilitating training.

Job Instruction Card
Job Instruction Card

What is Training within Industry?

While getting ready to write about Training within Industry, I remember my experience with the lack of this type of instruction. My first day as a team leader was exciting and terrifying.  I had no idea how to be a team leader.  While my supervisor and I discussed the job description, she highlights a few things. Nevertheless, there was nothing about how to supervise people.   When I asked, all the answers refer to instruct people what to do and how, follow-up, and fix problems.  Yet, that was not a good enough answer because how do you give instructions, how do you do a follow-up?  How do I know everything was all right?  Whenever I thought about how I was going to guide the team and ensure we meet our department goals, my brain went into overdrive.  The wheels inside my head were turning so hard that I could hear them.  In summary, I had no idea how to do my job.

How the Training Within Industry Program started?

Many years before my experience, a leadership development program was created by the U.S. government during World War II.  The program provides supervisors and team leaders with the ability to lead, instruct, and improve the methods of their jobs.  

The USA Department of War created the Training Within Industry (TWI) in the early 40s. The objective was to help ramp up the production of war materials and equipment. During the occupation period after World War II, the United States Air Force (USAF) initiated, developed, and introduce the Management Training Program (MTP) to Japan.  The American occupation forces brought in experts to Japan to help to rebuild their industry. Edward Deming and Joseph Juran were part of the group.  

MTP teaches the importance of human relations and employee involvement. It explains how to continuously improve processes and products and the value of practicing CI. The program also explains the scientific method approach (Deming Cycle or PDCA) to manage operations.

What is TWI?

TWI is a group of programs that are intended to be used together for comprehensive workforce development.  It introduced three standardized training programs, Job Instruction Training, Job Methods, and Job Relations Training.  Each program had a manual and a card summarizing the program, like a memory jogger. The first module, Job instruction training teaches how to prepare and train the “one best way” to do the work, which we now call standard work. The second, Job Methods teach employees how to improve processes by breaking them down into smaller steps questioning each one as a way to generate improvement ideas.  Job Relations Training teaches how to solve people’s problems. This training teaches supervisors how to evaluate and take proper actions to handle and to prevent people’s problems.

Although these programs were very successful, their use in the US gradually disappeared over time.  But in Japan, they were the foundation for developing the roles, responsibilities, and kills of supervisors at Toyota.   Why don’t we use these pieces of training as the baseline to create customized development plans for our supervisors?  I have no idea of the answer. But for sure, I would have had a lot fewer headaches if my former company had something like that.  In the following posts, I will give more details about each of these programs.

What is a work instruction document?

Use a work instruction document for training
Use a work instruction document for training

What is a work instruction?

A work instruction document is used to describe one of the components of Standard Work (SW). SW is a simple written description to perform a task. SW is the safest, highest quality, and most efficient way to execute a particular task. The three components of standard work are the following.

  • Job sequence to complete the job
  • The rate at which products must be produced to meet customer demand (takt time)
  • The standard amount of work in process inventory

Let’s focus today on the first component.  One way to document this component of standard work is by using work instructions.  A work instruction describes in detail the step by step information to do the task.  In general, they combine words, pictures, icons, or sketches, to define each step.  They also contain important tips for things that can make or break the job, safety, and quality.  

The first step to create standard work was to understand the process and break down the job.   If you follow all the steps, then you already have the job sequence to perform the job safely and efficiently while achieving high quality.  All you have to do now is to present the information in a simple and easy to understand format.

Document header

  1. This is an official document and should contain the company or business name, and address. 
  2. Use a clear title that describes the task.
  3. Although is not critical, you should have a standard alphanumerical format to identify the work instructions.  This is helpful if you plan to create instructions for key tasks in different departments.  This number should go next to the work instruction title.
  4. Identify the department and position(s) that will perform this task.
  5. Include the document effective date.
  6. When the job has safety risks or required the use of personal protective equipment, you should identify both.  This information can go either on the heading or the body of the instruction.  You can use words but is better to use icons to represent risks and PPE.

Work Instruction body

  1. List the materials or equipment required to do the job, use bullet points to facilitate reading.
  2. Describe how to perform each step following the appropriate sequence.
  3. For each step, include risks, and tips to do the job easier and/or achieve the desired quality.

Document footer

  1. If you are using the WI as a training tool, the footer should include space for the trainer and trainee names and signatures.

Guides to writing a work instruction document

Do the following while writing your work instructions.

  1. A number sequence for the steps.
  2. Limit the numbers of steps, if the task has more than 8-10 steps, subdivide the instruction in different subjects.
  3. Bullets or numbers each time you need to list something.
  4. Highlight important information using a different color, bold or italics.
  5. Use pictures, screen shots or icons every time you can.

Create a document template with the format you chose and a library with the icons to depict risks, actions, personal protective equipment, and others.  Designate who will be responsible for creating the work instructions.  Also, who will manage the documents library, including numbering, and filing.  Consistency and clarity are critical to avoid confusion

How to create standard work? Using PDCA to create the baseline for continuous improvement.

Although PDCA is a problem-solving tool, this methodology is excellent for any improvement activity.  We followed PDCA while walking through the kaizen steps, and today we will use it to create standard work.  In general, the following are the steps to create work standards.  The figure below shows how they translate into the PDCA steps.

  1. Understand the process, break down the job & question every detail
  2. Develop a new method for performing the job
  3. Run the process and observe results
  4. If it is necessary, adapt the process and go back to step 4.
  5. When you find the best method, create the standard

PDCA should be a team exercise, always recruit team members to analyze and create standards.  The most important part of the PDCA cycle, understanding the problem is critical for its success. This statement remains true when we use PDCA to create standard work.  Even if you know the process, ask what it is about, and what is supposed to accomplish.  What is its purpose?    If you can eliminate or combine the process, do it!  If you cannot, then continue to understand the job sequence, breakdown the job, and question each step. Always observe the process and talk with the people who do the work.

The next step is to develop a new method.  Engage the team in a brainstorming session for improvement ideas.  Prioritize and select the best solutions to design a new way to perform the job.   Use those ideas to design the safest, highest quality, and most efficient way to do the work.  Test the new design, observe the process, and measure the results.  All this is part of the step Do, the second of the PDCA cycle.

The third PDCA step is Check, which is what you will do while analyzing the results from your test drive.  Does the new process achieve the objectives?  Is this the best way to do the job?  If it is, start to create the standard, which is the last PDCA step, Act.  If it is not, modify or adapt the process.  

If your test drive proves that you need to improve the new process further to accomplish the goals, modify it, and test it again as part of the PDCA step Act.  You keep changing, testing, and analyzing until you reach the desired condition.  When this happens, it is time to create the standard.

PDCA provides a framework that is easy to follow and repeat.  In the same way that you can use it to standardize Kaizen, you can use it for your standard work creation also.  Standard work is the baseline for future improvements.  You create the standard, let the operation stabilize, and then improve the standard.  

What is Leader Standard Work?

The fundamental ingredient for a successful lean implementation is creating a continuous improvement culture.  It is impossible to create a culture without the active participation and support of leadership.  Most of the time, leaders at all levels have to learn continuous improvement principles and tools along with their team.  But that is the easy part, the challenging one, is to move away from traditional thinking and adopt a completely different way to behave, think, solve problems, communicate and relate to others.  

In other words, leaders looking to use continuous improvement and lean thinking need to build a new business persona.  This journey will help you to reflect on how you manage or supervise now and build new habits for the future.   Some people say it takes 21 days to build a habit, while others claim it takes up to 66 days.  I don’t know the right answer, but I know that building the habits required to successfully change a culture takes more than a couple of months of practice.

One tool that helps with leadership changes in behavior is Leader Standard Work.  Standard work ensures consistent results and is the baseline upon which improvements are made.  Leader standard work is a description of the safest, highest quality, and most efficient way to drive continuous improvement and Lean thinking throughout the organization.

Leader standard work is usually presented as a form or checklist with daily tasks, as well as space for additional tasks specific for the day.  You can divide the daily tasks by time-specific, like meetings and non-time specific.  A different approach is to divide tasks into sections.  For example, before, during, and at the end of the shift.  Like many other things with continuous improvement, you can select the format that makes more sense for you and your business.

The following are things that you should include in your Leader Standard Work because they support and promote continuous improvement.

  • Daily team meetings
  • Walk the area where value is created
  • Observe out of normal situations
  • Support continuous improvement activities
  • Follow-up performance vs. objectives
  • Set direction, ask and answer questions
  • Reflection
  • Plan the next day

Although many can say that using a form to guide what you have to do through the day is too restrictive and takes away the flexibility to deal with daily problems, it is the contrary.  Remember, you are building a new habit, a new way of doing business.  The form will help you to create that habit and make you focus on those things that will help to identify out of standard situations before they become a problem.  It will take time, but in the end, you will see the benefits of seeing things by yourself and not relying on reports with outdated information.  Lean is about learning, experimenting, and reflection on the results to keep learning and improving.  As a leader, you set the example by doing what you expect your team does.

This is like whey you are trying to build the habit of jogging or have a walk daily. It is hard, but over time you will get the benefits, will get used to it and doing it is almost like breathing.

Standard Work, what are the best practices to create them?

standard work is the base for improvements

Standard work documentation is important to record the right and only way to complete a process.  This document provides clear, simple, accurate, and complete information to support training.  Standard work is the foundation for improvements. If the foundation is weak, it will not drive the desired change.

Best Practices to create standard work documentation.

  • The people who do the work participates in the process
  • Include all relevant information on one easy-to-read document
  • Keep it simple and use visualization, if possible.
  • Make the documentation accessible
  • Set clear expectations regarding revisions and improvements

Components

There are different types of formats to document standard work.  Follow the best practices to create one that works for you and contains the three components of standard work.

  • Job sequence
  • The rate at which products must be produced to meet customer demand
  • Work-in-process inventory quantity

Types of Standard Work Documents

Standard Work DocumentationDescription
Process capacity sheetDefines the available capacity
Standardized combination tableDefines the work of one operator during the process cycle, it describes what the operator is doing and when it is doing it.
Standardized Work ChartIt is a simple layout of the work area that shows the flow of the worker, information, and materials through it while keeping the production rate to meet customer demand.
Work instructionA work instruction contains step by step information to do the work.  It has a combination of words and pictures or drawings to describe each step.  It also contains important tips for things that can make or break the job, safety, and quality.  
ChecklistThis simple document can have two different uses, to confirm that everything was done or to check as you carry out the task.
Visual aidSimple instructions using pictures or drawings to show the steps of the process.  They are posted at the point of use.
Memory joggerThese can be a group of laminated cards with general guidelines, settings, or other information that is not used very frequently.  

Importance of these documents

Create standard work documentation is important to record the safest, highest quality, and the most efficient way known to perform a task.  This document is the baseline for future improvements.  They reduce variation and improve consistency. 

Standard work, what you need to know about the job before you create it?

One of our responsibilities as leaders is to keep our team and customers safe.  These days that means that we have to incorporate the CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting public areas and workplaces. How can we make sure that our staff follows the instructions?  How do we redesign our processes to ensure the appropriate distancing?  To ensure effective procedures, you will need to create standard work to ensure understanding and execution, as well as communication and training.

In my post Standardization and problems, how to create standard work to reduce problems?,  I mentioned the general steps to create standard work.  The first step is to understand the process for which we will develop the standard work. Although maybe you want to go straight to creating the standard, the right way to do it is to improve the process first.  Why?  Because if you currently have problems, it is because the process needs improvements. The following are the three steps to understand the process.

  1. Identify and learn the process
  2. Understand the job sequence
  3. Find out the process parameters

Identify and learn the process

Ask what is the purpose of this process, what is supposed to accomplish?  What is the value for the customer?  Does the current pandemic affect what the customer wants?  It is important to have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish with this process, what is the target condition you expect from it.

Go to the place where value is created, where the action happens, what in lean we call the gemba.  Study the process without going into specifics, take a general look at the flow of materials and people.  If you would like to minimize the areas on which employees and customers cross each other, drawing a spaghetti chart will help you to visualize those patterns.  You can use the same tool to see how the information or materials travel through the process.  Identify where the flow stops, look for waste, such as waiting, delays, excess inventory, and others. Respectfully ask your team about those areas, how they feel, what they think?  Take note to remember those key points that you will use while understanding the job sequence.

Understand the Job Sequence

Armed with general knowledge about the process, break the job down into smaller logical steps.  We use the template called “Job Breakdown Sheet” to document this part.  This sheet is from the Job Instruction program, which is part of the leadership development program Training Within Industry.  

A step is a logical segment of the operation when something happens to advance the job.  The job advances when it changes form, fit, function, or adds value.  For each step, you will fill out what, how, and why.  What is the section where the step description goes.  

Key points are important pieces of information that can make or break the job.  On this section, you listed what is important to ensure safety, achieve quality, or make the job easier.  Include the best practices to perform the step as part of the key points.  The last section is to explain the why for each key point.  It is easier to remember a step, if you know why it is important.  Also, this is a good place to explain why the best practices are important, how they are aligned with safety, quality, delivery and safety objectives.

Find out the process parameters

After you learned the work sequence, it is time to add more information that will help to develop the new job method.  One of the components of standard work is the rate at which products must be produced to meet customer demand.  To get this number, you need to know the customer demand.  Another piece of information that you need to gather at this time is cycle time, how much it takes to complete the job sequence.

In my next posts, I will explain more about the tools I mentioned here, the spaghetti chart and the Job Breakdown Sheet.

Standardization and problems, how to create standard work to reduce problems?

In continuous improvement, we define a problem as a deviation from the standard.  That is a difference between what should be happening and what is actually happening.  That gap is a problem.  Standardization is the practice of setting, communicating, following, and improving standards and standard work.

But what happens when there are no standards?  How do you know that you have a problem?  Normally you know because a situation that does not feel right is jumping at you, other times those situations are screaming at you.  Those screams are usually in the form of complaints, delays, errors, or performance variation.  How do you choose where to start?

There are different prioritization criteria that you can use to determine what process you will tackle first.  You can choose the process based on volume, the effect it has on the problem you are looking at, or how much influence it has over the cost of operation.  If you never create a standard before, my advice is to start with a small process.  This will give you the chance to learn the basics before digging into a bigger problem.

The development of a standard begins with the problem we are trying to solve.  What is the target condition?  What should be happening?  What can you do to ensure you met the target condition every time?  Do not try to set your current process as the standard, if you have problems it is obvious that the current process needs improvements.  That is why you need to understand the current situation, find the root cause of the problems, and improve the current process before creating standard work.  In general, the following are the steps to create standard work.

  1. Understand the process, break down the job & question every detail
  2. Develop a new method for performing the job
  3. Run the process and observe results
  4. If it is necessary, adapt the process and go back to step 4.
  5. When you find the best method, create the standard

Standard work does not make any good if it is not communicated.  For that reason, training is the next logical step.  While creating the standard, engage the help of some members of the team.  They have the knowledge and experience that will facilitate the creation of the standard.  Also, this would be a teaching opportunity to develop their skills.  Train supervisors, team leaders, and other members of the team.  Use visual management if it is possible and have the standard work available for reference.

Now that you have standard work for that process, identify the next process, and keep improving.  Standard work is the foundation for improvements, they provide the baseline to process improvements.  Once established, stabilized it, and improve it!