Training and Retraining
Insufﬁcient training represents another potential barrier for your employees.
So, if our objective is to remove barriers, this one is no different and must
be bulldozed along with the rest. Training must be important since Deming
mentioned it in 3 of his 14 points. Correspondingly, Point 4 of our Model
Vision states that we want our workforce to be “highly skilled profession-
als”; in this chapter, I attempt to deﬁne what that looks like in practice. I
introduce the subject at this point in the discussion because it relates directly
to Chapter 8 on the process control manual (PCM). Namely, you can put
together the best PCM the world has ever known, and it will be of little
value if your employees do not have the skills and training to put it to use.
Assessing Basic Skills
The ﬁrst step in the process is to have your PCM professionally assessed
regarding the minimum education level needed for a user to have full com-
prehension. After that, you will have to determine how well your employees’
basic skill levels match those requirements.
We tend to take for granted that people who are capable of holding a
job in a factory year after year have reasonably good language and math
skills. However, from ﬁrsthand observation, there are a surprising number
of people who do not. Also, the information in the PCM is not rudimentary.
In fact, it is fairly sophisticated. So, if you expect to train people to use the
manual the way it is intended, you must know that they have those essential
skills. How can you know this? You will have to test them.
100 ◾ Removing the Barriers to Efﬁcient Manufacturing
Getting employees to agree to basic skills testing can be a bit traumatic
for some people because they are fully aware of their educational shortcom-
ings. And for them it is embarrassing and maybe even frightening. So, it
goes without saying that the testing must be conﬁdential and nonthreaten-
ing. You must emphasize that the intention is to assess who needs additional
training, not who will be demoted or shown the door. Explain to all employ-
ees that the PCM and statistical methods must become a way of life, and that
the management team’s job is to make each employee successful—period.
While each person may have a different starting point in the learning pro-
cess, your team is committed to doing whatever is necessary to help every-
one get to the ﬁnish line. This may well include company paid “refresher
training” in high school level English and math, which is available at nearly
any local tech school. If there are no tech schools nearby, recruit local teach-
ers to provide the training in your plant or in a local school after hours. Just
do whatever it takes.
So, now let us assume the testing is completed, and you know the educa-
tion level of your workforce. Bring each employee in for a private interview
and share the results with the employee. Low-scoring employees must be
enthusiastically encouraged to pursue the refresher training. Emphasize that
they are valued employees, but that the nature of the work has changed.
This new way of manufacturing is merely a response to global competition,
and if nothing is done to meet that challenge, the plant and company would
be at risk. The number one task is to stay in business. The employees are an
integral part of that effort. However, there is one stipulation. Employees who
refuse refresher training will have limited job opportunities in the future
because they will not have the necessary skills. You are not demoting them
or punishing them, but it will deﬁnitely limit the work they can be assigned
in the future, while those who have the skills may get promotional opportu-
nities that they could not otherwise been offered.
Note: You can only afford to make this concession for a very limited number
of employees. If the word gets out that all this is “optional,” you can forget
it. Few people will volunteer for the increased complexity without additional
pay (which could actually be possible under the right circumstances).
For the high-scoring employees, you get the pleasure of congratulat-
ing them and showing your appreciation for their advanced skills. Let them
know that you will be counting on them to help train others as the orga-
nization progresses to the new manufacturing system. There may even be