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Archive for September, 2009

The Importance of Coaching In a Dynamic TWI Implementation

The goal of the TWI J programs is to improve the business outcomes for organizations through training. The training is most often focused on supervisors[1]. TWI training is designed to provide supervisors with the skills to be effective leaders, effective instructors and effective innovators. As good as it is, such training takes employees away from the work place and draws on scarce resources.  So how do you insure your training investment pays a dividend?  You do so by planning follow-up and coaching at the start. The TWI J class should be viewed as only the first step in a successful TWI implementation. We have learned by experience that training in isolation will not have sustained effects.  

 Coaching, as we will use it here, is defined as a job-focused, performance oriented relationship with a co-worker for the purpose of improving knowledge, and skills to better perform a given task.[2] We use coaching to improve the practice of TWI (JI, JR, or JM) after the classes are completed.

 The matter of coaching in TWI is, indeed, not new.  It was discussed in some detail in the TWI Service booklet titled “Following through with J.I.T.” (circa 1940). The booklet begins with the statement: “The 10 hours of J.I.T. has put valuable tools in supervisors’ hands. The tools must be used to produce results. Here is a practical way to put them to work.”  The TWI Service authors then provided an organizational chart naming the key positions that needed to be engaged in the coaching and how to go about it. They called it: “How To Get A Section Chief to Coach His Unit Chiefs.”  What follows is essentially that that process updated for context.

 The process of implementing a sustainable J program in the workplace (shop floor, office, patient care setting) can be broken down into four steps. The first step in is to gain corporate support for the program. This support needs to be clearly communicated at every level. The second step is to prepare local managers and supervisors to provide the support, time and resources the supervisors need to fully implement the program. It needs to be made clear that the long term gains will outweigh the immediate costs to production. The third step is to instruct the lead TWI trainer in how to coach supervisors and others down the line.  The TWI trainer(s) need to be given the skills, time and authority to coach the supervisors in how to use the TWI system as well as coaching them while they are doing it. Finally, the fourth step is to keep the TWI program dynamic through continuous coaching, auditing, process improvement (JM) and renewal.      

An example from the workplace might help illustrate how these four steps were carried out in a medium sized company with manufacturing plants spread across the country. The corporate goal was to turn out the highest quality product possible, as quickly as possible, with zero defects, all at a reasonable cost.  A corporate commitment was made to achieve that goal by providing the employees with the best job instruction training available. 

Step 1: Gain corporate support

TWI JI training was identified as a means to achieve that goal. A corporate commitment was made to make the journey with TWI and a location was selected.  Key human resource and production employees were trained in JI.  Job Instruction Breakdowns (JIBs) were developed for the selected product lines, work processes were stabilized, training schedules were developed and adhered to, and training was provided and audited. Following some experience and success, an individual with clear training aptitude and interest was sent to take the JI Train the Trainer class.  When she returned she was provided resources to train managers, supervisors, and team leaders at additional plants and follow-up with coaching. All of this was possible because the leadership communicated their commitment to this training and provided resources in support of it.   

Step 2:  Prepare local managers and supervisors

Over time a cadre of trainers was trained by the certified, corporate TWI trainer in a variety of locations. While responsible for the overall training, this individual could not be in more than one place at a time, so local management support was enlisted and selected individual supervisors and/or engineers in each location were provided the resources of time, coaching and the authority to implement JI training and auditing.    

Step 3: Instruct the lead TWI trainer in how to coach supervisors and others

One might make the case that steps 2 and 3 must be completed concurrently and that would be correct. The lead trainer was identified and following the completion of TWI JITT, she was charged with coaching TWI supervisors and others on a regular basis. As a result the supervisors grew in their role as the TWI leader which became an ongoing part of their jobs.  In this company, the lead supervisors oversaw or provided the TWI training and then maintained the training needs chart and schedule, coordinated the training, audited the training; and verified the completeness and accuracy of the JIBs. 

Step 4: Keep the TWI program dynamic

Training and implementation in the company were going well but the danger of complacency is always there. The lead trainer was given the authority and responsibility to collect relevant metrics to document: standard work; reduced training time; efficiency gains; reduced error rates; reduced reworks; reduced defects; increased productivity; reduced overtime; increased profitability; improved employee retention; and improved customer satisfaction. While all this was being measured, new employees were still being trained, incumbents were cross trained and trained in new processes, and most importantly coaching continued for everyone.  There is involvement at every level with continuous assessment and adjustment.  Everyone has a role to play and success is dependent on their participation. 

If you are not sure how to instruct the lead trainer in how to coach the supervisors and others, call us, we can set up group or indidvidual coaching training.           

 Steve Grossman, Director


[1] Supervisor is a generic term for, “Anyone who directs the work of other’s”.

[2] http://www.coachingandmentoring.com/Articles/mentoring.html

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How do you select particpants for J training?

Bill and Loren in Arkansas (MEP) asked  how do we best advise our clients with regard to their selection of participants for JI and JR classes so that they will achieve maximum benefit/results? 

They said: “We understand that it is best to have supervisors from the same level participate in a given JR session (i.e., a homogeneous horizontal selection throughout the company) so as to avoid impeding any learning/interactions that might occur in the event that their “bosses or subordinates” were in the room.  Presumably in that situation, there would be a hesitancy to openly/freely discuss their problems within the context of the JR process.  With regard to JI sessions, we understand that the selection process could include participants other than just supervisors (e.g., a cross functional vertical selection throughout a particular Value Stream).  In this case, the participants would be selected based on their ability to utilize the JI process to become capable instructors.  Since the training examples used during the JI sessions would not necessarily be sensitive in nature (as could be the case with the problems addressed during the JR sessions), the candidates could come from upper management, supervisors, maintenance, engineering, quality, etc.  It also has occurred to us that the company should take time to consider what they mean by a “good” trainer and, where possible, establish the criteria by which candidates would be selected (e.g., flexible, creative, knowledgeable, respectful, practical, empathetic, patient, approachable, appropriate humor, etc.).”

 And I said:  “From my reading, I see  a recurring theme which  is;  top down support is necessary  for successful implementation. Whether they take the training, observe the training or gain an understanding through informal means,  the  plant manager, the owner or the CEO must let the employees know this is the way we are going to proceed.  Then, as you suggest, care should be taken in selecting the inaugural group for training based on the problems identified. I would recommend that  the groups selected for training be bonded by a project  or  two to be accomplished  rather than a random cross section of supervisory and management personnel.   Otherwise, I think you have as good a handle on the subject as anyone I’ve talked to. ”

What do you say?

Steve Grossman – Director

Survey says!

What a great group of trainers  TWI has!   We asked 251 certified TWI trainers to respond to a survey and 136 took the time to do it.  When have you ever heard of a 54% response rate to a survey?  

We received interesting data from all these responses which I will very  briefly summarize below.  I will be leaving out quite a bit so, for a complete report go to www.twi-institute.org  

Selected Survey Results:

  • Since  the TWI Institute began to train and certify trainers in 2002 we have trained almost 300 trainers in one or more of the J programs.  Over two thirds of them have been trained  since 2005.  They are resident in 22 MEPs, 73 companies, 14 consulting firms and 2 community colleges, in 44 states and four other countries.  
  • Seventy-eight percent of the respondents said they were actively training.  
  • A majority of the active trainers  said they were doing as much or more training this year than last and 81 percent indicated they expect to the same or more training next year.
  • TWI Problem Solving is a new offering from the Institute. We asked about the trainer’s  interest in it and almost 90 percent were interested in additional information.   If you’re a trainer look for that information in the next few weeks.  
  • Finally, we asked the trainers if they were interested in follow-up coaching and mentoring after they completed certification. Only about a third were. We need to find out why that is and what we can do to support TWI implementation after the training is completed.

Thanks again to all the responders to our survey.

Steve Grossman – Director

TWI was more than I could’ve hoped for

Wejust received another unsolicited testimonial from a client who said of TWI JI & JR initial program delivery: “Itwas more than I could’ve hoped for.  … The team is very interested in implementing the new process and we have a real energy surge that we must maintain.”  You would think that we might be used to comments such as these after all these years, but, we never get tired of hearing them.   

It also, illustrates the need to grab hold of that initial burst of enthusiasm and make something happen. When we go back   to this company we will counsel them to do their JIBS as soon as possible, get that training schedule done and start training.  Take some time and then; go back;  assess progress; correct your course and keep going.  When you wait to implement TWI your skills begin to degrade. “Use it or lose it” is as true of TWI skills as any other skills. 

Sucessful training is not success.

Steve Grossman – Director

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