Thanksgiving reminds me of the young man who helps out with our lawn and other chores when we’re away from the house or just feeling overscheduled. He’s the third of five brothers who have passed us down the line as they have finished high school and gone off to college or the service. Each one says, as we pay him for doing a fine job of whatever uninspiring task we have provided, "Thanks for the work." This isn’t because leaf raking or gutter cleaning is such a rollicking good way to enjoy a summer afternoon. It’s because these guys have learned to value the opportunity to make a buck and enable themselves, later, to have whatever kind of good time they have earned. They do a fine job of their work because that’s who they are, and they demonstrate their trademark gratitude because they want, when the time comes, to pass on a string of happy clients to the next upcoming brother. In fact, their neighborhood advertising flyers say, "Band of Brothers." These guys have built a culture and they’re proud of it. Solid, 3D leadership helped them make it happen.
We’ve had great success with this kind of leadership in behavior development and training for industry.
It started with two dimensions – classroom training and job site reinforcement. In the classroom we would explain the basics of a new set of tools and procedures or some other change to the job environment. Then, within a day or so, we would make sure students got a chance to use the new information in the course of doing their jobs. It quickly became evident that the impact of training with real-world jobsite support was more than just two doses of the same medicine. It was a validation of the training, anchoring it in real world experience.
The Band of Brothers’ dad takes pride in his own yard and teaches his sons to do all the basics that add up to a good job of lawn maintenance. He also explains to them that they, themselves are part of the product they are selling. Moreover their whole family benefits when they make a good impression on a client. Finally, he sends the younger brothers along to help with trimming and raking while the older boy uses the mowers or other potentially dangerous equipment. The result is an age-based hierarchy through which the boys move as they approach high school. Dad maintains his involvement doing quality control and teaching as appropriate during the season.
As our years of successful industrial training progressed, we added one more facet to the training and support approach. We began telling the class what we were doing. We described our way of training with job support so that instead of seeming manipulative, it was understood as a natural way of developing a better way of working. It also disciplined us to shape new ways of working that provided real benefits to all the people they involved.
3D training, as one of our students told us, "Ain’t rocket surgery." It involves three mutually supportive parts to make any new way of working a natural part of industrial life and graft it on to the local culture. The three components are assigned D words to make them easier to remember:
Describe the change or technique in a way that makes it fully understandable to the audience. Using the "who, what, where, when" kind of model can help the trainer cover the bases when he or she prepares the classroom presentation.
Discuss the value of the change and the way it is presented to the class. Help workers see the "why" that goes along with the details of what is to be done. If there is no reason why the change is not a workplace improvement for those making the change, then the change is not well designed. The areas where workplace improvements usually occur are safety, predictability, job security and pay. Discussing these benefits and how they accrue to workers as a result of the changes prepares the team for a cultural shift that makes their life better while it benefits the stockholders. Discuss the stockholder benefits, too, and acknowledge that this is an important part of the package. After all, it is where job security comes from.
Demonstrate the improvement in the workplace, and do it promptly to seal the deal. If possible, support the trial or demo with a little more discussion and reaction from the team. It will cement their understanding of the new process or practice and will validate the fact that it is a better way of working or living in the plant environment. Again, if it isn’t an improvement in these areas, it isn’t well designed and it won’t stick as a permanent way of life. Only well-thought-out changes need apply.
3D training may not be rocket surgery, but it’s a foundation for cultural change that lasts because everyone involved understands that it benefits everyone. Just ask the Band of Brothers.
Read Stanton McGroarty's monthly column Strategic Maintenance.