Inclusive Mentoring

Time has proven that mentoring is successful at training people to learn job tasks. From early civilizations, artisans have passed on skills to the next generation through apprenticeships and one-on-one mentoring. The Industrial Revolution used mentors and apprentices.

Time has proven that mentoring is successful at training people to learn job tasks. From early civilizations, artisans have passed on skills to the next generation through apprenticeships and one-on-one mentoring. The Industrial Revolution used mentors and apprentices. Many manufacturers learned their skills with hands-on training through schools' vocational education programs.

Today, industry has to return to teaching the basics to develop skills for the future workforce since the education system has discontinued basic shop skills classes at the junior high and high school levels, leaving skills training to the manufacturers.

Manufacturers must develop their own skills training in order to stay on a competitive course in the world market. Developing the skills of the workforce will provide a competitive edge so that companies can manufacture parts and goods that are correct the first time without scrap or costly re-work.

The new generation needs to be trained in all of the basic skills needed to perform the manufacturing process. C. Thorrez has been working on this issue for the past 2 years and has found that the most effective way of training is mentoring through what is called the buddy program. The system is inclusive mentoring using the involvement of skilled operators, first-year trainees, human relations, production management, quality control, upper management and the training department. The process is done in several steps:

Step One:
The training department develops goals and objectives that express the company's manufacturing needs.

Step Two:
A meeting is called for the people involved to discuss the goals and objectives.This group also suggests what is important in class and what hands-on training is needed for trainees. This open session allows everyone to have input. In return the employees buy into the program with pride. The notes from the meeting are then evaluated, and changes are made.

Step Three:
The committee meets again and reviews the program changes.

Step Four:
The training department designs classroom training that will present the academics of the skills and reinforce the hands-on training from the buddies.

Step Five:
Buddies are selected among better machine operators. They must have a year or more experience and an excellent quality record and attendance. Oftentimes more than one trainee is assigned to a buddy. The buddies are called into a group meeting where the ground rules for a trainee/buddy relationship are written. The most important of these is that each trainee will seek help from his or her assigned buddy only and not from other operators. This is important for continuity in the hands-on training.

Step Six:
The trainee and buddy review the ground rules and the expectations of the program.

To maintain a constant information flow from the classroom to the shop floor, at least one buddy attends each class—and all have an opportunity. This provides a strong reinforcement to the instructor that the information is correct. The buddy then takes the information from the classroom and reinforces it with hands-on experience.

Evaluation of the program uses several methods. Classroom training is done by using a pre-test/post-test along with worksheets. A trainee must get 100 percent right before advancing to the next learning unit. In the middle and at the end of each training session the trainees are evaluated by their buddies for skills, attitude and attendance. Those who fail are dropped from the program. In some situations they are allowed to start over.

The training department rates each trainee in the areas of quality, skills, attendance, housekeeping and classroom activity. By using this system, operators can be trained to company standards in job skills, quality and production.