By: Taylor P. Bidmead – Education Coordinator
Seven very short months ago, I was hired as an Education Coordinator at Dymotek. My job is to create and implement an in house training structure for new machine Operators. Coming from a background of Biology, Lacrosse, Office Assistance-ships, and Cheerleading, you may as well have asked me to create a training program in a foreign language! However, being the person I am, I saw this as an advantage. Who better to welcome new-comers than someone who was just as new, first-hand themselves?
When I took the job, my supervisors and I agreed that I needed to experience the current “status-quo”. I wanted to weigh the pros and cons of the current training program. For the next 30 days, I began learning the jobs that ran on the floor. Not just one shift, but on all five. I learned each press 5 times, 5 different ways, from 5 different people, and valued it like it was the first time I was hearing the information every time. This was the most critical part of developing the training program we have today. I heard where the breaks in communication were, saw where people weren’t being given clear instruction, and identified the root causes of any major confusion. Most importantly, I began to see where some of our core strengths were, where Operators had really gone above and beyond their job requirements to contribute to our current success. Really shape in my mind “what makes a great operator.”
When you think of learning, most often you think of school, how you needed to learn your shapes and colors first, have to “get the basics” before you move forward. I realized when I started at Dymotek that I knew nothing. I read every book anyone happened to bring up in conversation (ie. Injection Molding Reference Guide 2nd ed. Routsis Training), I brought videos home (ie. Gemba Academy Improvement Learning, Improved. “Standard Work 1 & 2”), I completed interactive computer based learning modules (ie. Routsis “Introduction to Plastic Injection, Machine, Process, and Mold”). I started doing what I do best, researching. I educated myself on Manufacturing, train the trainer programs (ie. Fred Pryor’s “Train the Trainer”, 1995), visual management psychology papers and even asked all the employees here 100 questions a day. I wanted to be 100% positive I knew everything, even about the “basics.”
The next step, was to gather hard data and bring it to the attention of the senior management team. So I did. I polled all the Operators on every shift with a series of questions ranging from Safety questions (questions pertaining to on the job safety), to Quality (defect questions, paperwork questions, and others), and finally Production questions. These were ranked in descending order because that is the order in which we rank priority. After reviewing the average number of answers correct in each area, training took on a new priority and has been continually supported ever since.
I’m ever enthused by the future of training, because my job will change from trainer to coach. Once we have all the basics information down, consistent across every shift, together we move forward. Together we raise the business to the next level. I am currently working with engineering to become a part of their project list as they develop and launch new projects. This is to ensure that training is implemented and supported from the beginning. Not only that, but as the business develops, so do our people. They move into different positions, from Operator to Lead Operator, Lead Operator to Supervisor. Outlining and developing these training structures and progressions for them is something I look forward to. I love to hear Operators who are excited for training, cannot wait to get more, and continually ask me questions. I appreciate the Supervisors and fellow Operators who support training and encourage other Operators to go to training with an open mind. Most of all, my absolute favorite days are when I get an Operator response such as, “You know something? I have worked here for a while now, and I have always done exactly what I’ve been told. I grab the runner, I toss it, remove the good parts and put them on the table, but I have never once thought about a runner. I never knew what it was for or what it did! I never really understood the machine and how it works, that is so cool!”
I leave you with a quote that was e-mailed to me when I first started and has been the background on my computer ever since, “CFO asks CEO: ‘What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?’ CEO: ‘What happens if we don’t and they stay?’ “