Written by Mary Hallock, IMEC Technical Specialist and TWI Certified Trainer
Training Within Industry (TWI) is a proven job training methodology that has been implemented successfully by companies for decades. Given the challenges of today's skills gap, it is critical to have systematic approaches to train and retrain staff. Yet, we hear plenty of myths about TWI… allow me to help dispel the myths and set you on a path to TWI success.
1.) It takes too long to train this way.
Trainers often think that because we repeat the instruction multiple times and have the learner try their performance multiple times, that training takes too long. They often think it’s easier to just show the learner once, have them do it once, and then leave them to fend for themselves. It may seem like this saves time but think of all the quality problems that are caused by poor training, the lack of productivity and all the questions you have to go back and answer later. Although you may save time on the interaction you have with the learner, in fact you spend more time correcting problems, answering questions and being frustrated because that learner just doesn’t get it.
2.) The method is just too repetitive.
It probably is too repetitive for you, the trainer, because you know the job so well. But this isn’t about you the trainer it is about the learner. The learner is most likely just seeing the job or paying attention to the way it is done for the very first time. So, you instructing three times and them repeating and trying the job out four times is not repetitive to them at all. This is all about the learner – not the instructor – so make sure you follow the method.
3.) This method doesn’t work for jobs that take a long time to do.
Sometimes we have to train people on jobs that have many steps. The method still works. You should evaluate the job and see how it can be broken down into smaller chunks. Quite frequently there are natural rest points that allow you to train small pieces of the job. This may require that you only train and allow the learner to learn a small piece and then you do the rest of the job to keep production moving. Remember, we can only learn so much at one time. Trying to cram too much learning in at once can make it harder – not easier – for us to learn the jobs.
4.) I can’t give just brief descriptions of what I am doing; I need to go into much greater detail.
Eventually you will want to go into more detail about the job and the procedure; right now you want the trainee to learn how to do the job correctly, safely and conscientiously. Remember, you can refer them to operating procedures and visual work tools when they are available. So, don’t overwhelm the learner with more information than they need at one time.
5.) I already know the worker I am training so I don’t have to follow Step 1: Prepare the Worker.
Preparing the worker is about making sure they are ready to be trained and knowing their skill level. This allows you to be prepared. For instance, if you are going to teach someone how to measure a part, they have to know how to use the measuring device. If they have never performed a job using the measuring device your training has to start there, rather than jumping to how to measure the specific part. Don’t forget to put them in a position where they can see the job and hear your instruction before you get started!
6.) I only have ‘Important Steps’ and no key points so I should only have to show the learner once.
First, make sure you really don’t have any key points. Are there things that would make or break the job, injure the worker or make the job easier to do? If not, you still need to Show and Tell the job to the trainee at least 3 times. Repetition is important. That’s the way we learn. Did you only do one addition problem before you moved on to subtraction when you were in school?
7.) The worker did the job correctly the first time, so I know they know the job and don’t have to have them repeat it 3 more times.
The learner can often do the job correctly the first time through; however, you still don’t know if they truly understand what they are doing. It is important that you have them Show you and Tell you about the job at least 3 more times so you are sure they know what they are doing. You can’t know what they are thinking, see what they are seeing or hear what they are hearing. You must have them say out loud what they are doing to truly validate their learning.
8.) The worker told me all the steps, key points and reasons and demonstrated their performance. They were still making mistakes, but they did it the 4 times so I can leave them on their own.
Remember to continue until you know they know the job. Just because they demonstrated four times, doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to be on their own. Continue to correct their mistakes and make sure that they know it well enough that they will produce good parts and won’t get hurt. Follow up is also a necessity. Check back on them frequently, while they are learning. Also, make sure someone is available nearby to help them. (By the way, don’t forget to make sure the person nearby does the work to the same standard process.)
9.) I need to give reasons for all the steps otherwise they won’t understand how difficult this job really is.
Reasons are for Key Points to emphasize these important details and make sure the learner understands why the job needs to be done this certain way. A Step is a Step. This is what is done to move the job forward. Establishing these steps as THE way to do the job puts you on the path to establishing standard work.
10.) There is too much up front planning in TWI. It’s a lot easier if I leave the learner to just figure out whatever is going on that day.
It may be easier for you, but this puts a tremendous burden on the learner. Our brains like structure and clarity. No matter how smart the learner is, just having them try to figure out the job with no plan or organized process is very frustrating for them. They are left feeling like they will never learn, have no idea how to insure good quality or how to keep themselves safe. The four-step TWI Job Instruction process allows you to prepare yourself to do the best job training others so they quickly learn to do a job correctly, safely and conscientiously. Remember: If the Learner hasn’t learned, the Instructor hasn’t taught.
Learn more about Mary Hallock, IMEC Technical Specialist in the the areas of production, strategic planning, business management, workforce development, continuous improvement and green business practices.