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 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.