New Report: Balancing Operations and Training

Posted By: Jeannine Kunz, Chief Workforce Development Officer, SME on November 12, 2019

New Report: Balancing Operations and Training

Implementing a comprehensive, consistent learning and development program can seem daunting. But it doesn’t need to be.

We hear from a lot of manufacturers who are at risk. They need training to move their organizations forward, reduce quality errors, meet customer demands, and grow — but they resist taking teams away from the day-to-day operations for this training because they don’t have enough people.

It is critical that companies do not become paralyzed by this situation. We know how it can be. If a doctor gives you a list of 1,000 recommendations for better health, the change seems insurmountable. But if a doctor offers small changes like “drink more water” or “go on walks,” it’s doable.

Same thing in the manufacturing world. Small wins will ultimately add up to more significant progress.

Take heart —Tooling U-SME’s new Execution Gap Report can help. Titled “Balancing Operations and Training: Small Steps Create Big Wins,” the report offers easy first steps and realistic best practices that you can start implementing today. It also features case studies of companies that have already successfully navigated the execution gap in at least one area of learning and development.



Execution gap


What, exactly, is the execution gap? It’s when manufacturers realize they need to invest in their people by providing continual learning opportunities but find it difficult to allocate the time, resources and funds needed for training and, in the end, don’t take action. In Tooling U-SME’s visits to manufacturers across the country, we’ve seen these struggles firsthand, as well as the steps companies have taken to surmount them.

Companies that find solutions to these workforce challenges by balancing operations and training will continue to outpace their peers.

A simple two-step strategy is the easiest way to start. First, evaluate where your company stands compared to the 10 characteristics of high-impact learning organizations (HILOs) highlighted in the report. These HILOs have strong learning foundations and tend to outperform their peers when it comes to productivity, quality, customer service and sales so they are great models. These characteristics represent the gold standard. Begin by focusing on areas where you already see success — known as the “good to great” strategy.



Best practices


Second, take a look at the best practices we outline in the report. We recommend focusing on three areas proven to most quickly bring about a strong return on investment: on-the-job training (OJT), elearning and community. Tactical steps in each category will give you lots of ideas so you can start small…and make progress.

You can also learn from top companies who overcame their own challenges by implementing training and development strategies:

  • OJT: Asahi Kasei Plastics, which needed to quickly onboard and train 45 technicians to ensure they were shop-floor ready, implemented onboarding and an OJT standardized work program as well as a Train-the-Trainer program. Based on the success, the company planned to hire more employees for a new production line.
  • Elearning: Parker Hannifin was looking to improve its operations, build consistency and attract new workers, and shaped a plan for assessments and an effective learning program, including online courses. The result? Increases in both plant efficiency and employee morale.
  • Community: Eager to build its workforce pipeline, Honda partnered with a local high school and the SME Education Foundation’s Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) initiative to create a structured training program using Tooling U-SME curriculum. If students are hired by Honda, they make a seamless transition into employees.

To find out more about how companies can take small steps toward attaining the larger goal of implementing a workforce training program, download Tooling U-SME’s Execution Gap Report.

Tags: "Asahi Kasei Plastics", elearning, "Execution Gap", "High Impact Learning Organization", "Honda of America", OJT, on-the-job-training, "Parker Hannifin", "Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education", PRIME, SME, "SME Education Foundation", "Tooling U-SME"