On the Fly Training

I travel extensively and one of the things that I notice everyplace I travel to is the number of help wanted signs that I see on seemingly every business. The unemployment rate in the world is at an all-time low. This has created problems for the auto recycler as we have struggled to find good workers when we had more people to pick from. Now that times have changed it has become increasingly more difficult for us to hire. This puts a lot of pressure on the bosses of the company to first find people and then ultimately getting them up to productive speed while keeping them happy enough to not look for employment elsewhere.

We tend to think that money is the number one factor in getting and retaining people. While there are a certain percentage of the population that the money is the primary motivating factor the truth of the matter is fewer and fewer people are looking at the money as the primary driver. I will never discount the importance of paying a competitive wage, I will always tell you that if the money is the only thing we have going in our favor we will have problems retaining staff. The reason you ask? We can always be outbid by someone else!

If the money is only a part of it, the next question is what else do I need to do? The experts are telling us that the worker of today wants to feel empowered, important and truly understand why they are being tasked the way that they are. We know why we want them to do certain things specific ways or do we?

Have you looked at how you hire and train your people? The great majority of us do not have a structured interview process, specific skill sets that we are looking for, personality traits that we know will add value to the company and not destroy the chemistry of the operation and finally how many of you have a specific training path?

The truth is most of us fall into the trap of On the Fly Training. We have them work with a few people who do the same job. We tell them to do what they do and we will tell them what they learned that will create habits that we don’t like and to not do them. We then start to wonder why somebody is not getting traction in the position. When you stop and think about it, is a fully commissioned salesperson ever really happy to teach a new person how to do the job when it will cut down on the number of opportunities that they have to sell which could cost them sales commissions? While the people who we task with the training seldom get a pay cut it is the perception of it happening that causes the problems.

I will not discount the value of a proven winner doing some help in training but this needs to be done with some structure. It’s a proven fact that the companies who have taken the time to formalize the onboarding process for new hires have a much higher success and retention rate of the new hires when we have a structured training process in place.

There are certain things that are common to all new hires. They need to know the HR stuff. Vacation policies (PTO), 401K or retirement plans, health insurance and all the basic rules that apply to the company. They also need to have a general understanding of each of the positions in the company. What does a driver do? How about dismantling and parts pullers or field dismantlers? How do we inventory? These are all things that we inherently know but do we teach that to our new people? More importantly do we have a way to teach them? Perhaps the most important question is do we have the training path to success laid out on paper so we do not have to think about it but instead just follow the guide. It is very similar to being given a course syllabus in school.

We should each take the time to sit down and formally document the onboarding process prior to needing it. That way when we do need it we have it ready. Work with your staff that will be doing the training to make sure they understand what you want to them to teach. Then you follow up with both of them to make sure that both parties did the teaching and learning that was expected.

This will ultimately give us a structured environment to teach our policy and culture while increasing the quality of people we hire. This should lead to a higher success rate or at least spending less time working on people who will not ever be able to do the job which unfortunately happens when we hire. The people we hire will like it better and it will tend to lead them to be happier and more productive for the company.

It will also move you away from the On the Fly Training that we all seem to currently be doing. It will take a little time but will worth it in the long run when we upgrade the quality of our staff and the overall performance of the company.

Mike Kunkel         Lee Worman

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