Put Employees’ Skills on Display

A shop interested in cross training publicly scores its employees according to how much time they spend with different types of equipment.

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An adage in manufacturing says, “What you measure, you improve.” The acts of both measuring something and analyzing the measurement focus attention onto the particular output being measured, revealing shortfalls that had previously gone unnoticed. Those acts also convey to everyone involved with that output that the thing being measured is important.

The photo above shows how Tech Manufacturing carried that principle into employee skills. The leaders of the Missouri contract machine shop wanted more cross-training among employees—that is, more capability among employees to run various types of equipment in the shop. To encourage this, the company began tracking employees’ time with various equipment, awarding bronze, silver or gold status based on the hours logged. This sheet displays the different employees’ different levels of status. (Names have been blurred.) The sheet is posted in the shop for any staff member to see.

There was no carrot and no stick. Employees received no rewards tied to improving training status levels. There was just this sheet, which carefully accounted for cross-training success. But that was enough—the extent of cross-training began to increase as soon as the company began tracking and posting scores in this way.

Read more about Tech Manufacturing, including the full story of the company’s process improvement efforts.