At many manufacturing companies, employees enter the workforce in a role reserved for new hires, then work their way through an organized line of progression from their first job to the next job and so on throughout their careers.
As a result, it’s helpful to have a plan in place, and some tools to use, to help train workers at each position and better prepare them for success at each new job.
In this post, we’ll give some tips and introduce some tools you can use to improve the line of progression training at your facility and make administering it more efficient.
By the time you’re done reading, you should have enough information to help you deliver (a) more effective training to your employees in each job position, (b) at a lower cost, and all while (c) spending less time administering the training. And you’ll be better prepared to move new employees from one position to the next in their line of progression, and as a bonus you’ll find some tools to help you cross-train employees so they can fill multiple job roles if necessary.
Introduction: Training Manufacturing Workers Through Their Line of Progression
There are several aspects of setting up an organized, systematic training program to help workers prepare for the different job roles in their line of progression. These include:
- Identifying the job roles at your company or facility
- Developing a list of skills needed for each job role
- Developing training to help employees develop competencies for each job role
- “Bundling” training for each job role for easy assignment, delivery, tracking, and reporting
- Making training for the “next job roles” available to employees
We’ll look at each of these in more detail in the sections below.
Identify the Job Roles at Your Company
This first step is basic, and maybe you’ve already got it done. Then again, maybe you haven’t, or maybe you haven’t done it in a while and your information is out of date.
Either way, if your goal is to help train your workers through the job roles at your company, it all starts by having an accurate list of the job roles.
Often times, HR and/or other department heads will have a list like this already or can help you create your list. You may want to touch base with them at this point.
Develop a List of the Skills Needed for Each Job Role
Each job role includes a set of skills that an employee must have in order to perform the job role well.
And so the next step of our process is to figure out the skills a worker needs to perform each job role at your company.
You’ll use the list of skills necessary for each job role to develop training and performance support resources to help employees develop those skills. During this process, you’ll find it helpful to perform a job task analysis.
Tip: in some cases, you’ll notice there are things your employees need to know in order to perform those skills. Keep a list of that supporting knowledge, as well.
Identify and Evaluate the Training Materials You Already Have For Each Necessary Job Skill
Once you’ve developed the list of job roles at your company, and the list of skills necessary to perform each of those jobs, it’s time to turn your attention to training workers.
For each job role, take that list of necessary skills and see if you already have training materials to help employees develop those skills.
Do you already have training for job skill X or job skill Y associated with a given job role? If so, great, you’re ahead of the game on that one.
The next step, then, is to evaluate those training materials. Are they current and up to date? Are they comprehensive and accurate? Now’s the time to figure it out.
Tip: Ideally, you’ll evaluate those existing training materials not just to see if the information in them is complete and accurate, but also to see if they’re effective learning tools. You can use the Kirkpatrick four-level training evaluation method to help you do this; read our article on Kirkpatrick to learn more about this. If you’ve delivered some or all of that training in a learning management system (LMS), it should be easy to run some reports and gather at least some of this data (notably, level two on the four-level Kirkpatrick) scale).
Identify the Training Materials You Don’t Already Have For Each Necessary Job Skill
Once you’ve identified the training materials to teach job skills you do have, you may find there are some job skills you’ve got no training materials for.
This is a training gap you’re going to want to fill. Put all of these job skills on a list. You’ll soon begin creating training materials for them.
Improve Your Sub-Par Training Materials And Create The Missing Training Materials
Next, you’ll want to improve those training materials that you thought were sub-par, and you’ll want to create training materials for skills you currently have no training for at all.
This is a big process, there’s a lot to it, and we’ve written a LOT about various aspects of it on the blog.
Tip: If you’re looking for a nice, comprehensive guide to get you moving forward, you’ll really like our Guide to Effective Manufacturing Techniques very helpful. Or, if you’re a fan of webinars, this Manufacturing Training That Works webinar covers basically the same ground. Both are free–have at ’em.
And here are some other useful tips:
- Perform a task analysis to break the different job skills/tasks down into smaller steps before you develop training to teach workers to perform those tasks
- Create training that takes advantages of adult learning principles
- Create training for a blended learning solution that incorporates training in several different formats (written, video-based, e-learning, instructor-led training, OJT, assessments, etc.)
Each of these three points are important and valuable, and we encourage you to read the linked articles on each above. However, let’s keep focusing on line of progression training for now.
Bundle Training for Each Job Role
Next, once you’ve created all the training required for a particular job role, you can use a learning management system (LMS) to help you manage things from there.
Just import the training materials for a given job role the LMS. This is a simple process that takes only a few minutes.
Next, create a “bundle” of all the training for that job role. Again, that takes about a minute. That bundle is something you can then assign to employees in one easy step. And you can later run a report to quickly see how employees are progressing through their training or which employees have completed their training for that job role.
You can see an example below of a bundle of training required to be a fully trained winder operator at a paper mill. The bundle includes multiple learning activities (we couldn’t get them all in the image but you get the idea) and the activities are of different types–instructor-led training, OJT training, e-learning courses, written documents, and more.
Assign Training “Bundle” to All Employees In Job Role (Now and In Future)
Your LMS will also allow you to take that “bundle” of training and assign it to everyone who’s a Winder Operator at your site. That includes people who are currently winder operators but also people who will move into that role in the future.
You can see how easily you can do that in an LMS in the screen grab below–it’s a two-step process that takes a few seconds to select the “bundled” training and the “team” of Winder Operators, and then you can complete the third step of setting some assignment dates in a few more seconds. You’re done in a minute.
Let Your Employees Train for Their Job Role
Once you’ve assigned the training to your employees based on job role, just let them do their training.
In some cases, this will mean reading some documents, watching some videos, completing some e-learning courses, or passing some quizzes online.
In other cases, this will mean completing some form of face-to-face training: instructor-led classroom training, field-based OJT, or something similar.
Regardless, the LMS will notify your workers of their training assignment, their completion status, and give them the information they need to complete the training.
Here’s what that would look like for your employees.
Make Training for the “Next Job Role(s)” Available to Employees
Of course, you’re not just going to train an employee for one role. That employee is going to progress from job to job to job over time with your company. And you will want to train them for each of those roles.
Once you’ve created and “bundled” all of your training in the manner described above, you’ve got a few options for getting workers trained up for the next role:
- Make the training for the next role available to the worker on an optional, elective basis. They can complete it on their own time if they want to.
- Assign the training for the next job role at the same time you assign the training for the current job role (maybe with a later due date) as a way to cross-train workers for multiple jobs and/or to prepare them in advance for their next position.
- Wait until the worker is fully trained on the first job role, and is ready for a promotion to the next job role, and then assign the training required for the second job role.
Run Reports to See Who’s Done and Not Done with Training for a Given Job Role
From time to time, you’ll want to see who’s done with their training for a given job role and who’s still in progress.
Having an LMS will allow you to quickly select the workers you’re interested in (either individually or by simply selecting an organizational unit such as a team, department, or site) and the job role you’re interested in, and the LMS will show you everyone’s current training status, as shown below.
Set up Reports for Automatic Generation and Delivery to Training and Department Managers
Even better, you can schedule your LMS to automatically generate reporting data every day, week, or month, and send that to training or department-level managers, so they’ll always be up-to-date on the training progress of the employees they’re responsible for.
Just fill in a few fields as shown below, and the department manager responsible for the Winder Operator team will receive an updated report on their training progress every day, week, or month, as shown below.
Conclusion: Making Training Through Line of Progression Easier
You’ve now seen some methods and tools you can use to more effectively and efficiently provide training to your workers as they progress through the career line of progression with your company.
It all starts with knowing the job roles at your company and then determining what training is necessary for each role. As we’ve shown, that includes some sub-steps, including figuring out the skills necessary for performing each job role, and performing a task analysis for each of those skills.
We’ve also shown how having a learning management system (LMS) can help automate a lot of this, allowing you to focus more of your time on providing instructor-led training or otherwise maximizing operations at your site.
What are some tips of your own? What have you found that works and doesn’t work? What are some things you’d like to try? We’re all ears.