Peer Recognition Work Best For Manufacturing Employees

Most managers and supervisors put their best effort to recognize their employees by writing note cards or recognizing them during employee meetings. While managers and direct supervisors mean well in their offer of the recognition, many times the acknowledgement seems forced or insincere. A  public recognition by a senior level manager may sometimes even lead to the perception of favoritism.

Peer to peer recognition on the other hand, supported and backed by the manager can mean so much more! Peers don’t offer recognition because its their job to do so like it is for the managers. Peers offer and show recognition to really thank, appreciate and motivate their colleagues.

Peer to Peer Recognition Motivates and Builds Community

There is usually a sense of community within the manufacturing department and peer to peer recognition builds upon that camaraderie.  It breeds a sense of transparency and support which results in more motivation to do great work.

Close to 90% of recognition of manufacturing employees are just for tenure. Other recognition offered are to employees that worked on a highly visible project or did something a lot more conspicuous to management.

Peers however are more familiar with the hour to hour, minute to minute work that is occurring on the floor. They have a more intimate knowledge of the work their colleagues are doing.

They know about the employee that worked through a migraine in order to get a part made and shipped the same day. They know about the employee that went the extra mile to help a newcomer learn the packaging process. They are aware of the employee that painstakingly went through all the returned products.

These are the tasks that may go unnoticed but appreciating an employee for it offers organic and authentic gratitude. It also motivates the employee to continue to provide great work.

When employees have the support of their colleagues, they stay longer in an organization. Having a peer to peer recognition program promotes social acknowledgement and builds loyal teams.

Peer to Peer Recognition Program

The recognition program can be as simple as saying ‘thank you’ in a team meeting or it can be a more formal approach. It is dependent on the organization to place the reward system for the program.

The rewards however should not be in lieu of annual performance incentives. The rewards need to mean something to the employee receiving it.

If you’re looking to develop a peer recognition program for your workplace, here are a few general tips to keep in mind:

  1. Keep it timely. Employees should be recognized as soon as possible for the work they did.
  2. Recognize with specifics. Provide details when giving the recognition.
  3. Have the direct manager and supervisor present while awarding the employee. It will be even better of they are involved in presenting the award to the employee.
  4. Encourage employees to give recognition.
  5. Give rewards that are actually useful.

Peer to Peer recognition programs, simple as it may seem, proves to be a great tool to motivate and inspire. It can increase engagement and improves the company culture. So go ahead, make your employees feel appreciated and valued!

How to Write Procedures Employees Can Actually Follow

Most employees will not read long and detailed procedures. The longer and detailed they are, the less likely they will even consider skimming the document. The purpose of a procedure is to ensure employees follow and perform the steps of a process so there are fewer errors and that each person following the procedure performs it the same way.

Here are some tips to consider while writing or revising a procedure:

  1. In a couple of sentences, identify the purpose of the procedure. The purpose statement does not have to be very detailed but must be more informative than just “to meet regulatory requirements”.
  2. Use bold type faced headings and subheadings.
    • Headings and subheadings guides your employees as they read. It helps them see the key points.
    • Avoid paragraphs that contain all instructions and instead number main steps and bulletize the substeps.
  3. Clearly outline responsibilities.
    Identify early in the procedure is one person will be performing the whole procedure.
    If multiple employees are responsible for different steps, begin each process step by identifying the individual responsible.
  4. Use photos the right way! Don’t fill up the procedure or work instruction with tons of photos that make up a 60 page document. Instead use photos as clarification points.  The photos should help the employee stay on track and assures them they are following the procedure correctly.

If a document just absolutely needs to have a lot of details and a lot of technical information, use table and charts as much as possible to lighten the document.

Procedure Employees Work Instruction
Writing Procedures for Employees
manufacturing procedures

The Best Way to Motivate Your Employees

I hear this statement a lot…”We do everything for our employees but we can’t get them motivated and excited about their jobs”. Organizations spend time and resources in programs, activities and events to build an environment of motivation. However employees may see these attempts as futile. The best way to motivate any employee is to get to know them and their strengths.

This is where the employee’s manager comes into the picture. A quick search online found this definition of a manger on Business Dictionary : An individual who is in charge of a certain group of tasks, or a certain subset of a company. A manager often has a staff of people who report to him or her.

This definition lacks the inherent advising, guiding and leading responsibilities of a people manger. A people manager can not advise, guide or lead without knowing the capabilities of their employees. A people manager can not motivate either without understanding each employee’s self interests.

If a manager has a direct staff, he or she is responsible for first and foremost knowing their employee. I am not recommending getting to know their personal lives but getting to know them from a professional stand point.

Discover what their career goals are, what they are passionate about, what type of tasks and assignments they struggle with and more importantly what they excel in. Then encourage them by assigning projects, assignments and tasks that allows them to use those strengths.

Getting to know your employees also allows managers to understand each employee’s incentive factor.  Is it recognition and acknowledgements, is it monetary perks, is it job and title advancements?

Knowing what motivates your employee allows the manager to reward employees in small ways other than a possible raise after an annual performance appraisal.

Motivation comes with knowing who you are trying to motivate and what will satisfy their professional “cravings”.

Learning more about your employee takes time and effort but it’s effort that’s well taken. It is motivation in itself when an employee recognizes that their manager has interest in their work and their goals and aspirations.

The Technique that Guarantees a Better Training

We see it all around us. Social media cues us into what captures someones attention…amazing visuals! We are much more drawn to visuals than ever before. Not only are we drawn to images that can capture a thousand words, people retain the imagery better than words describing the same thing. So why not use the same technique in our workplace training sessions?

Since about 90% of what people learn comes through visual stimulation, training should incorporate images, photos, and videos into their training content. If performing a training presentation use slides with just a title that provides the key point along with an image. This tactic during a training presentation works better than traditional bulleted slides.

For the cherry on the top, make sure you also add some hands on practice for every new procedure and process before finalizing and signing of on a completed training.


Onboarding with Standard Operating Procedures

The process of on-boarding an employee with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) training is one that many regulated organizations have to do. I am even more familiar with how every organization has a method to document that the new employee “read and understood” each SOP. We want to prove to the auditors that we performed our duty of ensuring that training is a priority and it was completed on time and was effective resulting in a signature and initials on a piece of paper that’s taken as gold.

I am confident that many organizations innovated some creative ways to train their employees training and can actually prove it effective. It is known that most of what we read, especially what we take in mass amounts, is quickly forgotten. I am certain as employees go over multiple pages of information that they tend to skim the SOP instead of reading and grasping the entirety of what the SOP is meant to declare. So what is a regulated organization to do?

Methods and policies for training should focus on businesses providing time-the right time, the amount of time and enough time. An organization should provide ample time for new employees to start their first week with some of the major SOPs concerning safety, company policies, and the like. The SOP on “Writing an SOP” might be able to pushed of until say…it’s time to write an SOP?

People are more tuned to understanding procedures when actively engaged in the process. Reading and training with the SOP at hand and performing the job per the procedure while under supervision not only ensures that the employee fully understood the SOP but effectiveness can actually be evaluated. Presenting SOP on-boarding to new employees in small pieces enhances attention and helps retention of policies, procedures and work instructions. Performing Just In Time training elevates on-boarding to another level.

Workforce Advance can assess your organizations SOPs in order to isolate the high risk content for initial training and connect all other SOPs to Just in Time training based on a sophisticated training matrix that can seamlessly be implemented into your current training program.





Critical Thinking as a Training Tool

Developing the critical thinking skills of a employee can be vital to the individuals success and in turn can be of value to the business.

Training in the professional setting requires that facts be given by the trainer but comprehension of the training content must be assessed but not solely on the retention of the material learned.

Critical thinking in its simplest form depend on the individual to see the process clearly and for the individual to comprehend the cause and effects of a process.

The word critical which is derived from the Greek word for critic implies that critical thinkers can critique and judge for themselves and be able to discern for themselves. This is a sharp contrast to the simple retention and regurgitation of information which is what we sometimes hold our employees to. Even daily tasks are trained upon with the expectation “learn once and now repeat as often as possible.”

One of the simplest and best ways to assess critical thinking during a training session is to use questioning techniques that are not just focused on facts.

When individuals are asked to critique a process or procedure the fact based information become more relevant to them and they become invested in both the training as well as the work they are trained on. The trainee gets to take ownership of the training and the content provided.

When you allow employees to analyze the content associated with the training, and allow them to employ causation through essential comprehension type questions, you are pushing their thinking process which in turns allows them to evaluate the facts, critique the information and then evaluate a conclusion.

For an example, if training is given on a repair process of a piece of equipment, the facts involved are the steps to the repair process. However assessing the training can include questions that ask:

What would happen if step 4 was done before 3?
Why is this tool used for this step of the process?
What would you do if you notice this particular part is not functioning as expected?
What would be the effects of skipping step 9?

Although the ability to think critically is not the primary goal of training, it’s no surprise that trainers have tried to develop training programs where critical thinking is assessed.

The effort is definitely intensive and time can be a constraint and whether the critical thinking mindset transfers to other aspects of work has not been studied completely. However training sessions that do employ critical thinking tools and assessments reap an employee that is more invested in the training.

Deming’s Training Philosophy Part 2

W. Edwards Deming’s first philosophy on training and education was “Institute training on the job” and is probably the easier one to understand and implement. This philosophy is based on training employees on the skill set needed to get the job done. Training should be performed using platforms that engage the employees and hands on practicum is not an add-on but a requirement. On the job training should never be seen nor performed as a single event but should be a continuous program that allows cumulative knowledge building. This type of training helps reduce variation from operator to operator, encourages employees to learn from one another and even opens doors for improving the process.

Deming’s second philosophy is to:

Implement education and self-improvement.

Deming was thinking long term with this philosophy since it was not pertaining to the knowledge needed to get the job done today but having your employees ready for the tomorrows. As change is constant the skills of your current workers need to change and improve in order to prepare for future changes and challenges. In order to have a robust workforce training should not be a pinnacle of on-boarding but a challenging program of education that exists thereafter so a person grows after joining an organization. Providing the resources needed to teach new technology and advanced techniques strengthens your current workforce and enables them to be the experts the organization needs. The management team should not fear losing these experts to other organizations as is a common concern among managers but understand that providing an environment of education and challenging advances keeps employees committed to the organization making an investment in them. Not doing so results in 40% of employees leaving their jobs in their first year.

There will be increased costs with employing professional development training but those are offset with improved productivity and efficiency. Ultimately prevention costs of providing the right education and improvement resources far outweigh failure costs associated with turnovers, employee replacement and retraining.

Deming’s Training Philosophy -Part 1

For those reading that have been even mildly involved in anything “quality” are familiar with W. Edwards Deming and his famously penned “14 Points for Management”. Mr. Deming’s rich educational background and positions of influence in the U.S. government led him to Japan where he was a consultant to Japanese businesses. His message of the power of statistical methods and quality improvement was clear and he raised expectations of the management tier. His 14 points are based on the need for management to bear the responsibility for quality and quality improvement. Surprisingly two of his fourteen points are focused on training and education, one of which is:

Institute training on the job.

Deming’s view was to practice modern training methods and invest in on-the-job training for all employees. Everyone should be trained in the technical aspects of their job, and in modern quality and productivity improvement methods as well. The training should encourage all employees to practice these methods every day.

Deming was convinced that training should be a continuous, ongoing, engaging module of the business system not a one time event that occurs when a procedure changes or when a validation is being executed. (I sense the strong agreement from quality engineers and managers from all over).

We are decades past Deming’s own consultancy and teaching of the 14 points but never has his take on employing modern training methods been so critical. The 4 major age groups employed within the U.S. workforce: Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z, branched out with various diversities and various backgrounds makes finding the correct training method to use difficult for most employers. Traditional training methods may not speak to the fast paced learning language of the millennials nor do the modern interactive methodologies engage the “show me once and I’ll learn it” learning method of the Boomers. However the  modern take on “blended” training and teaching were already in the front of Deming’s philosophy where modern methods, on the job training and constant practice had to hold hands in order to engage any trainee.

The systemic approach to provide this level of superior training cannot all be discussed now however outcomes of any training is dependent on a few major pointers:

  1. Senior Management Support- allowing dedicated time for training. This speaks volume of support to the training program.
  2. Departmental Management Support- building and compiling the right resources for the training.
  3. Trainer- knowing the audience.

More on these topics will be discussed in the future but for now become the voice of Deming at your workplace!