Seven steps to training success


Separately, you often hear individuals suggesting the need to shadow a retiring craft worker for a period of one to two years in an effort to transfer all of that knowledge to the newbie. A wise plant manager once shared his response to that approach: That retiring craft worker took 20 to 30 or more years to reach that level of experience. Do you really believe that you will transfer that knowledge in two years or less, especially in an unstructured and typically reactive environment? Not going to happen, sorry. 

Building on experience

So how do we build a strong, vibrant workplace from a craft skills and knowledge perspective? Based on experience and the collective knowledge of many skilled educators, here is the roadmap.

First, we must understand exactly what we need to know from a skills and knowledge perspective. If you have good CMMS/EAM data (most don’t), we can review past work history. Otherwise, we could ask the technicians to tell us the skills and knowledge necessary for their success, but you will miss a lot of skill tasks plus have a lot of overlap to sift through.

Another method is to create a database of questions, such as “Do you work on steam traps?” I have seen these databases over time approach 600 to 800 questions. With the database approach, you might work with a representative group of technicians and spend a day or two stepping through the questions.

If you are trying to change the culture, you might spend the next day or two with managers and supervisors to get their input on what they want the crafts to learn, that is, changing to a multi-craft approach. If this is necessary, you will need to spend additional time getting collective agreement between the groups. The next part of this first phase is to rank each of the selected tasks in a priority matrix of:

  • Frequency: How often do we perform the task? Daily, weekly, monthly?
  • Criticality: How important is the task?
  • When required: When did you have to know the task skill? From the start, 3 months in, 6 months, 1 year? 

From the ranking process, we can determine two to four levels of skill and knowledge that can later be used in a pay-for-skills approach.

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