On-The-Job Training: Too Little, Too Late
My client, Dick, sent his 24-year-old plumbing foreman down to Orlando for me to train and relate the top management strategies for running his business. Ray started with Dick at age 18 and worked his way through a four-year plumbing apprenticeship program. His ability and effort moved him up to the top of the company’s jobsite management team, so we were preparing him to do likewise with the entire company operations.
Dick told me that the young man was definitely a superstar, but he did not produce good documentation or job-to-office communication. He also wanted him to learn about estimating, project management, cash flow and finances, as well as taxes and depreciation schedules.
I picked Ray up at the Orlando airport and we talked on the way back to my home. There was no doubt in my mind that this guy was a superstar. Thankfully Dick had the foresight to provide my expertise and guidance before he dumped those top management responsibilities on his back. Ray did not know or even care about all of the intricate details of running a profitable construction company. He knew only that the more work he produced each day meant the more money the company would make. That much was a fact! But what he didn’t realize was there is much, much more to the story.
Not Just What, But WhyRay and I began by discussing the crucial importance of thorough and on-time jobsite documentation. I explained how this daily documentation would give him a professional image as well as respect from the office, the customer, the design and inspection teams, and the other trades. Since he was very cost-conscious, I also explained how a couple of minutes of his time each day could save hours, days and even months of office time collecting money and fighting unnecessary arbitration and court cases.
We discussed these items along with the potential cost and waste of time for not doing them:
1. Number of employees, where they worked and what they were doing.
2. Problems or delays.
4. Rental tools or equipment on-site.
5. Materials received.
6. Verbal orders, promises or commitments.
8. Inspections, testing, utility hook-ups, etc.
9. Injuries or accidents — OSHA’s form 301 must also be completed and sent to office if employee went to a doctor.
Ray was totally amazed and agreed how important all of that is, as well as assuring me that he will make certain that all of the company’s foremen get the same message.
“Why didn’t Dick explain this before he made me a foreman?” Ray asked. “He told me to do all that paperwork but never told me why he needed it. I always worked my butt off to please Dick and be the best plumber. I certainly would have been his best documenter if he had only told me why he needed it.”
Ray went on with his O.J.T. (on-the-job training) where very little was explained to him before he was knee-deep doing it. The classroom curriculum was not paced with or presented before he was exposed to the actual work. In many cases, those valuable lessons came more than a year too late.
Pre-Job TrainingHe also commented how much he appreciated Dick’s foresight to send him here to learn all of the details of running a business before he jumped into that driver’s seat. Since Ray brought up the O.J.T. being too little, too late, we looked at the P.J.T. (pre-job training) solutions for training the firm’s future apprentices:
1. Tell him. Explain what you want him to do, how to do it and why it is important. You must also explain quality! A craftsman never improves the quality of his work. You begin with quality, no matter how long it may take to perform it; you only improve on speed.
2. Show him. Either do it yourself and let him watch or get someone else to do it.
3. Help him. This is where the actual hands-on training takes place. We call it role reversal. You give the plans and tools to the apprentice and the master becomes the helper.
4. Watch him. Now he is trained and ready to work.
As we covered theses four steps, Ray realized how this would also be ideal for him learning how to run the company.
Ray was fascinated with this program and assured me that his apprentices would get P.J.T. rather that that O.J.T. myth.
Next month we will continue with my P.J.T. mentoring on the critical functions of moving up the management ladder.