Every Day Is Training Day

As an engineer, I discovered that a mechanic with a great set of tools might not be a good mechanic.

I worked in a clean room environment, and the tools were kept in like-new condition, carefully cleaned after each use and put back in exactly the right spot in the right drawer.

One of my assignments was to commercialize some new equipment that was critical to a new product release. We documented every breakdown and what we did to repair the problem. When this one particular component failed, it always seemed to be on the night shift or the weekend. If I got called in to help diagnose the problem, the shift mechanics had already tried several things. Which means I never got to see the machine right after failure, only after failed attempts to make it run again.

All our mechanics were good with tools, but they didn’t all understand how machine components worked together, and they were frequently adjusting the symptoms, not the core problem. Imagine that the brake pedal on your car was coming close to the floor when you pressed hard. These guys would adjust the pedal so it started higher, without thinking that maybe the brakes are worn. They were doing what they knew to do.

When we finally figured out this one recurring problem, I put together a couple of sketches and a step by step instruction on how to reset the timing on the machine. I spoke with each mechanic for 2 hours, we took the machine out of adjustment, and then used the instructions to set it right. Problem solved, mechanics now more capable than before.

One of our corporate engineers called and told me he’d figured out what the problem was, and he wanted to come to the plant and have a two-day training session with our mechanics.  “I know it will be expensive, but it will take some dedicated training days to help your guys learn the timing.”

“They know it,” I told him. “Our downtime for that problem has been reduced by over 85%.”

“But they haven’t been trained properly. We need to have a training day or two set aside.”

“They have been trained,” I responded. “All ten of them get it and can do it. Every day here is training day”.

How many times have you heard someone say “We need more time for training.”? It’s the wrong way to think about it. We sometimes think that training is what happens in a formal setting, away from all distractions. I’m a firm believer that every day has trainable moments, if you know what values and information you want people trained in.

And this especially applies to each of us as individuals seeking to learn. There is no reason why you can’t learn something today that brings you closer to a learning goal. Read a blog that speaks to a topic you are trying to learn more about. Have lunch with a co-worker who you know will answer questions you have. Take the time, make the time.

2 Responses to Every Day Is Training Day

  1. […] I encourage you this year to pick one thing you want to be recognized for, one aspect of your work that you know you can perform in a way that will stand out from others, and just go and kill it. Do it the best you can, each and every day. And then the next day, go do it better! Continuous Improvement, Continuous Learning, Continuous Growth. It’s all up to you. Remember, Every Day Is Training Day. […]

  2. […] For three years my workplace has been creating an expectation that we all have personal development objectives. We are not rated on achieving these or not. The power in the process comes from identifying what areas of improvement could lead to greater results or preparation for a next-level job. We are reinforcing that for all employees, they drive their own careers. Careers are not accidental, they come from self-awareness, development, commitment, and performance. It doesn’t matter if your boss believes in you, it matters that you take matters into your own hands and make sure that tomorrow you are better than you were today. Every day is training day. […]

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