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Take Time to Make Time

Posted by admin on December 14, 2015

We’ve noticed a bit of a trend lately at clients and prospective clients: The inability to train their employees and implement skills learned due to a lack of time.  Typical comments are:

  • “We don’t have time to do the problem-prevention training because we’ve had too many injuries and we’re dealing with all the safety issues.”
  • “We’ve had so many quality problems, I don’t know when I’m going to be able to free up our operators for your problem-solving program.”
  • “I wish we could start work with you because we’ve had so many machine failures lately, but I’m down a few people on the line already and we need to be fully staffed before I can even think about training.”

You can blame it on how lean companies have become since the Great Recession (that’s lean with a lower case “l”, not a capital “L”).  Or it is just the beginning of the inability to attract and retain employees in the manufacturing sector that we’ve known was coming but is just starting to have an impact as Baby Boomers retire in big numbers.  These clients and prospects have no issues with our training and what it can do for their plant:  They just can’t seem to get to it.

But this phenomena of no time is not restricted to manufacturing.  A friend of ours who works for a global financial services firm told us that the manager in Latin America who reported to him left the company and a more junior person was carrying the workload while a new manager was recruited.  He agreed to bring on an intern for a short time to help her.  When the junior person was complaining to our friend about the heavy workload he asked her when the intern would be starting.  She responded that she hadn’t had time to even look at resumes because she was too busy.  And she didn’t quite get the irony of her comment!

It really comes down to time as an investment.  By investing the time in the appropriate training and taking the time to make it part of the conduct of operating in the plant, problems can be prevented or truly solved more quickly which actually frees up time.  We’ve worked hard to reduce the amount of classroom time in our programs and have increased the time for on-job applications so participants in the program are resolving real job issues as part of the training.

The other place where time comes into play is in the work environment itself.  Management must create a performance culture that makes use of the skills part of how the plant operates.  This includes using the processes themselves, encouraging use of the skills in others, eliminating roadblocks to employees using the skills and rewarding those who use the skills on a consistent basis.  Companies who just do the training and think it will have a big impact are usually sorely disappointed. 

At this point in our lives we know there are no silver bullets.  Just hard work to make real change.  But we also know that this hard work will have a big impact for those who treat time as an investment that can yield great dividends.