Not that long ago, we wrote an an overview of Training Within Industry (TWI).
As that article explains, TWI was a job training program created by the U.S. government during World War II. And, as it turns out, it had a strong influence on the development of lean manufacturing in Japan.
TWI includes four primary components–Job Methods, Job Instruction, Job Relations (these three are together known as the “J Programs”), and Program Development.
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the Job Relations program, also known as the JR program.
The Training Within Industry “J Programs” and “PD”
As we mentioned earlier, Training Within Industry isn’t one single program or curriculum. Instead, it’s best thought of as having four different components.
The idea is that employers should use those four components together to create a more comprehensive job training and performance enhancement solution. The four components are:
The Job Instruction Program, Job Methods Program, and Job Relations Program are commonly referred to as the “J Programs.”
Although this article focuses on Job Relations (JR), we’ll begin with a quick overview of all four components below. We’ve also got a larger, comprehensive article on Training Within Industry (TWI) in general that you might find interesting.
Job Instruction (JI)
This program is a method for teaching workers to perform job skills, making heavy use of breaking tasks down into steps and hands-on practice.
Read more about the Job Instruction Program here.
Job Methods (JM)
This program provides a method for enabling workers to improve the way they perform their own jobs.
Read more about the TWI Job Methods Program here.
Job Relations (JR)
This focuses on training workers to solve personal problems with other coworkers, and training managers/supervisors to do the same and facilitate all of this.
We’ll cover this in more detail in this article.
Program Development (PD)
This is a method for solving production problems that are unique to a specific organization.
We’ll write a specific article about Program Development in the future–hang tight for that.
The TWI Job Relations (JR) Program: Why Is JR Necessary?
In the Shingo-award winning book Training Within Industry: The Foundation of Lean by Donald A. Dinero, Dinero explains that:
Addressing employee relations, or how you work with other people, may seem intuitive, but when it comes to addressing personnel issues most managers need training. JR training is an analytical method for addressing personnel issues. (note 1)
If you stop and give this some thought, it will probably ring true. For example, maybe you’ve heard of the Peter Principle, which states that people get promoted for their performance in their current role instead of their aptitude for the role they’re being promoted into, which ultimately leads to managers who “rise to the level of their incompetence.” This issue of managing personal relations at work would be one of the elements of that relatively comment incompetence.
If you want more evidence of this, go to a business networking site like LinkedIn. It’s easy enough to find memes and survey results showing that most employees who leave a job don’t leave because of the job task itself, but because of their manager. (True story: I saw this meme on LinkedIn, titled Employees Don’t Leave Companies, they Leave Managers, the day I wrote this article and without even intentionally looking for it.)
Daniel Pink’s book Drive, which looks at some related aspects of management and employee performance, is another book that makes the point that managers don’t always know the proper skills for managing employees. Here’s how Pink puts it in his TedTalk:
If you look at the science, there is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.
So it should be easy enough to see that managers could benefit from developing these kind of skills.
What Is the Job Relations Method?
In introducing the Job Relations Method, Dinero notes that:
…dealing with people-problems analytically is not inherent to most people. This may be partly due to our emotions and personal backgrounds that color everything we do. Human resource professionals understand that using a nonemotional, analytical approach is the optimal way to handle personnel problems…the problem-solver should be able to separate his or her emotions from the problem at hand and consider people’s opinions and feelings to determine better their motivation and their needs. The goal is to derive a solution in a logical, meaningful way. JR teaches the skill of solving personal problem using the scientific method and providing methods to avoid the trap of becoming emotional. (See note 2)
It’s this non-emotional, objective method that JR attempts to teach.
Job Relations does that by providing two basic sets of instructions. We’ll look at each below. The first, based on the assumption that “a supervisor gets results through people,” provides tips for establishing a “foundation for good relations.” The second provides a specific, four-step method for handling job relations problems.
Establishing a Foundation for Good Job Relations
Here are JR tips for establishing a foundation for good relations between managers and employees and between different employees.
- Let each worker know how he/she is getting along. This includes figuring out what you can expect from the worker and pointing out ways for the worker to improve.
- Give credit where credit is due. This includes looking for cases when the worker has given extra or unusual performance. It’s important to tell the worker while the performance is “hot.”
- Tell people in advance about changes that will affect them. This includes telling them why the change is possible and helping them accept the change.
- Make the best use of each person’s ability. This includes looking for ability not now being used and never standing in the employee’s way and/or obstructing the employee. (Note: Read our “What Is Lean?” article to see how this is related to the “waste” of not fully utilizing your human talent at work.)
The TWI JR “Foundation” ends with the following reminder: People must be treated as individuals. (See note 3).
Four-Step Method for Handling Job Relations Problems
In addition to the tips for creating a basic “foundation” of solid manager/employee (and employee/employee) relations, the TWI Job Relations Program provides four tips for handling a job relations problem. These are listed below:
- Get the facts. This includes reviewing the record; finding our what rules and customs apply; talking with the individuals concerned; and getting opinions and feelings. Managers are reminded to be sure they have the whole story.
- Weigh and decide. This includes fitting the facts together, considering how the facts bear on each other, considering what possible actions there are to take, checking practices and policies, and considering the objective and effect on the individuals, the group, and production. Managers are reminded to not jump to conclusions.
- Take action. Ask yourself if you are going to handle taking the action yourself, if you need help in handling the action, if you should refer this issue to your supervisors, and be sure to watch the timing of your actions. Managers are reminded not to “pass the buck.”
- Check results. This includes determining a time when you’ll circle back and follow-up on the action and personal problem to see if your action helped, determining how often you need to check back, and watching for changes in output, attitudes, and relationships. Managers are reminded to ask if their actions helped production. (See note 4).
Conclusion: The TWI Job Relations (JR) Program
There’s nothing startling in what the TWI Job Relations Program suggests doing, even if many managers don’t know how to do it and/or don’t actually do it on the job (which is startling, admittedly).
As Dinero puts it in his book:
The creation of the Job Relations Program 9JR) may be the TWI Services’ greatest contributor to industrial success…Job Relations took an existing (scientific) method and applied it to human relations. At the time this was done, there was no precedent in job relations…successful and/or experienced managers will not find anything new here. JR makes its greatest contribution to people who are new at “directing the work of others”…The JR program creates a method of “what” to do and adds instruction of “how to do it…JR gives supervisors an easy method to use on a daily basis to inform their decisions and make their jobs easier. (See note 5).
That’s it for our brief introduction to the TWI Job Relations method. If you’re familiar with the method or have used it, please use the comments section at the bottom of this article to share your thoughts, insights, and experiences.
Remember that this blog post was the fourth in a series, and that the series began with a general article about Training Within Industry that you may find interesting. Other articles in the series covered Job Instructions (JI) and Job Methods (JM).
Before you go, know that we’ve got a short video highlight of the manufacturing and industrial training courses we create and a free manufacturing training guide for you below.
Here’s the short video that provides an overview of our online industrial, manufacturing, and maintenance training courses.
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1. Dinero, Donald A., Training Within Industry, p. 56.
2. Dinero, p. 62.
3. Dinero, p. 118
4. Dinero, pp. 118.
5. Dinero, p. 193