How to Get Continuing Results with Job Instruction

30 Aug How to Get Continuing Results with Job Instruction

The principles of Job Instruction are timeless. Trainers have long known how to get good results by Preparing the Worker, Presenting the Operation, Trying-Out Performance, and Following Up. They have also known how to increase the chances of success by thorough preparation – Making a Timetable for Training, Breaking Down the Job, Getting Everything Ready, and Arranging the Worksite.

It’s not difficult to teach these methods to leaders in an organization. Getting continuing results by explicitly and consistently applying these methods on an ongoing basis is something else.

The trainer-intensive nature of Job Instruction requires a major mental and behavioral shift on the part of front-line supervisors and mid-level managers who, for their entire careers, have employed the “Anna will show you what to do” method to train workers. Making this kind of change requires fortitude and is therefore not for the faint of heart.

The TWI Service recognized the challenge of getting continuing results with JI and developed a standard for doing so. That standard has five parts:

  1. Assign responsibility
  2. Get adequate coverage
  3. Provide for coaching
  4. Check results
  5. Give credit


In my organization we have concluded that the first three parts are crucial to Job Instruction success. We have learned the hard way that:
1) clear, forceful communication of expectations by senior-level leaders,
2) making the JI trainer assignment a full-time one, and
3) persistent coaching of leaders at all levels
are all crucial actions that are needed to overcome the mental and behavioral barriers to making the use of Job Instruction the norm.

Clear expectations are the starting point. In one case, a mid-level leader simply refused to do the work necessary to make JI successful. That only changed when he got a new boss who made it explicitly clear that JI was the new standard then held the leader accountable for meeting that standard. In another case, it was our VP – Production Operations who made it very clear during a gemba walk that Production leaders, and not the training staff, were responsible and accountable for organizing all the activities needed to make JI the norm.

A second lesson we learned is that assigning one team member, on a full-time basis, to develop and train using the JI method is the only really effective way to get the necessary JIB development and training work done. Those team members that have the knowledge to train others are very valuable to supervisors because they can be counted on to get products out the door. And when given a choice, naturally supervisors will assign those individuals to “get the work done” tasks as opposed assigning them to training-related tasks. We now tell mid-level leaders who are interested in JI that they are wasting their time if they are unwilling to make that “assign one person to train” kind of commitment.

The third lesson we have learned is that those leaders who are trying to make the change in training style from “go work with Anna” to JI need regular coaching. While the specific content may vary, this need exists at all levels of leadership, from team leaders to vice presidents. The coaching is part technical, “here’s how to do it,” and part emotional, “you can do it,” in nature. We have used staff team members to provide that coaching.

Applying the TWI Service standard for getting continuing results in Job Instruction has helped us focus our attention on assigning responsibilities, getting adequate coverage, and providing for coaching of leaders at all levels. If you apply this standard to your own efforts, chances are good that you too will see continuing use of JI in your organization.

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