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How to train employees?

Bondo

Hot Rolled
Joined
May 14, 2011
Location
Bridgeton NJ
Whenever we do complicated items, I try to always get a picture, then edit the picture to have the dimensions directly on it. As a visual reminder is so helpful when trying to read a sheet you wrote up 3 years ago.

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AJ H

Hot Rolled
Joined
Feb 5, 2019
I don't know if it's just me, but what happened to the days of on the job training? I do see the value in building up employees how you want them. I understand that one needs to weed out the weak, so to speak. I understand that that slows down business and takes valuable time away from other employees, which is hard in a small shop. Depending on the style of work, like production vs prototype/small batches, seems like it would be a good thing to build relationship with employees and have the senior machinists guide the newbies.

You basically just said it. If I stop production to train someone it cost $80+/hr depending on the rate for that machine. If I send someone to night school it's $800 a semester divided by 17 weeks @ 2 hours a week = $24/hr roughly. I certainly will explain what I'm doing as I'm doing it but machines need to run. I also think it's easier for them to learn in the class room when there's no pressure of needing a good part at the end.

The other thing that makes starting from nothing very difficult is the average high school graduate typically knows nothing about tools, can't read a tape measure, can't convert fractions to decimals, ect, ect. I know this isn't everyone and that an 18yo applying to a machine shop probably isn't the brightest of their peers, but I'm getting really sick of teaching in crayon.
 

modelmakerblue

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 9, 2005
Location
Dunstable, UK
I don't know if it's just me, but what happened to the days of on the job training? I do see the value in building up employees how you want them. I understand that one needs to weed out the weak, so to speak. I understand that that slows down business and takes valuable time away from other employees, which is hard in a small shop. Depending on the style of work, like production vs prototype/small batches, seems like it would be a good thing to build relationship with employees and have the senior machinists guide the newbies.

What ever happened to apprenticeships? If not someone with good attitude & experience will have to train the newbies, I've done it many times & it isn't easy & takes time so you will be losing an experienced guy to some extent.

Tony
 

kustomizer

Titanium
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Location
North Fork Idaho
What ever happened to apprenticeships? If not someone with good attitude & experience will have to train the newbies, I've done it many times & it isn't easy & takes time so you will be losing an experienced guy to some extent.

Tony

I found most would quit showing up before you could teach them enough 3rd grade math to be able to even get to the point where you could begin teaching them to measure. Even 20 years ago they could at least count their own fingers and toes, now you have to teach them that too. By the time you cut their blanks, count the parts they made, sort the bad ones from the good ones, cut more blanks, help them box them so they don't get damaged, point out the ones that they forgot to countersink, wipe the chips off them, fill out the paperwork, show them where to put them, help them tidy up, get the stuff that belongs with the job and put away the rest, clean up the machine and area so it can be set up for the next job. You could have done it yourself 10 times and still got most of your own work done too. You do it for months on end, you have others do it sometimes just to be sure that you are not missing some basic step that makes it impossible to learn the simple steps and the order in which they need done. You walk in the breakroom one day and listen to them telling the room their well thought out plan to get up at midnight to go to Walmart and stand in line till they open at 7am for the black Friday sale so they can save 5 bucks on a video game and still get to work on time.

I know folks have to keep trying to train the untrainable in hopes of finding one that is and my hat is off to you fine folks, you have your work cut out.
 

chuckg7442

Aluminum
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
I understand the down sides. I'm in a weird spot at the moment because I am transitioning from student to teacher at my shop. I do keep my machine running, but also take the time to train the new guy. Granted he is 2x my age and wants to learn, which is a huge plus. I would think that the experienced guys, and having several to teach would be plus since the task of training gets distributed. I do realize I have much to learn about leadership though.
 

bamabo

Plastic
Joined
May 3, 2021
Some things cannot be taught. Little things like stripped screw heads are just an example of things that are learned over time. You could try to explain it, but chances are they won't get it without learning it themselves. As a plant manager that also runs the maintenance department, I have learned when training apprentices that you can explain things to them everyday, but most will not get it unless they learn it on their own. The same goes for all the little tricks that i have picked up over 30 years. No one told me these things and i figured it out as i went. One other problem is that with the limited number of young guys getting into this field you sometimes get guys who are not the brightest.
 

chuckg7442

Aluminum
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Some things cannot be taught. Little things like stripped screw heads are just an example of things that are learned over time. You could try to explain it, but chances are they won't get it without learning it themselves. As a plant manager that also runs the maintenance department, I have learned when training apprentices that you can explain things to them everyday, but most will not get it unless they learn it on their own. The same goes for all the little tricks that i have picked up over 30 years. No one told me these things and i figured it out as i went. One other problem is that with the limited number of young guys getting into this field you sometimes get guys who are not the brightest.

Understood. I work in a small shop(at the moment 4 employees and 2 owners), and over the 6 years I've been here, there probably has been 6-7 guys come through the door. Our goal is to get a guy who doesn't have to have their hand held all day. One of those guys holds the record for shortest employment with barely 1.5 days. I don't do the hiring, or advertising...
From my experience here, it seems like the people who should be teaching don't really want to anymore. Myself and one or two others were willing to learn, just got stuck in our niches. So I view that as lost opportunity. I do understand that the shops needs come first, but I think there should also be what I call "teaching moments" where the less experienced get the chance to try new tasks, maybe something that is slightly beyond their skill level, but in a way that doesn't cost the company too much extra time/money?
 

kustomizer

Titanium
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Location
North Fork Idaho
Understood. I work in a small shop(at the moment 4 employees and 2 owners), and over the 6 years I've been here, there probably has been 6-7 guys come through the door. Our goal is to get a guy who doesn't have to have their hand held all day. One of those guys holds the record for shortest employment with barely 1.5 days. I don't do the hiring, or advertising...
From my experience here, it seems like the people who should be teaching don't really want to anymore. Myself and one or two others were willing to learn, just got stuck in our niches. So I view that as lost opportunity. I do understand that the shops needs come first, but I think there should also be what I call "teaching moments" where the less experienced get the chance to try new tasks, maybe something that is slightly beyond their skill level, but in a way that doesn't cost the company too much extra time/money?

Have you presented this to those that could teach you in a similar manner as you did here? I am just curious, I still teach people who come by and want to learn even though I don't employ any of them. Just a couple of weeks back I was asked to help a bright young man to learn about machining, he works for a local gunsmith who just recently bought a small CNC milling center and turning center, I suspect we will begin after the holidays. If you don't ask, the answer will always be "no". Explain it like you did here, perhaps offer up a job you have been watching and offer some thoughts on the subject, not how to do it totally different, save that for after you age good at most of what happens there and can show some real advantages to the new way.
 

AJ H

Hot Rolled
Joined
Feb 5, 2019
Have you presented this to those that could teach you in a similar manner as you did here? I am just curious, I still teach people who come by and want to learn even though I don't employ any of them. Just a couple of weeks back I was asked to help a bright young man to learn about machining, he works for a local gunsmith who just recently bought a small CNC milling center and turning center, I suspect we will begin after the holidays. If you don't ask, the answer will always be "no". Explain it like you did here, perhaps offer up a job you have been watching and offer some thoughts on the subject, not how to do it totally different, save that for after you age good at most of what happens there and can show some real advantages to the new way.

Can't agree more. Had I waited for management to decide it was time for me to learn something new and climb the ladder I'd still be at the bottom. Being put on new/different machines, training classes, trade shows, ask them for something and then prove it was worth it and you'll never get told no again.
 

chuckg7442

Aluminum
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Have you presented this to those that could teach you in a similar manner as you did here? I am just curious, I still teach people who come by and want to learn even though I don't employ any of them. Just a couple of weeks back I was asked to help a bright young man to learn about machining, he works for a local gunsmith who just recently bought a small CNC milling center and turning center, I suspect we will begin after the holidays. If you don't ask, the answer will always be "no". Explain it like you did here, perhaps offer up a job you have been watching and offer some thoughts on the subject, not how to do it totally different, save that for after you age good at most of what happens there and can show some real advantages to the new way.

I have expressed interest in advancing, perhaps not to the right people? I work in a tool and die shop, not very big. I usually run a CNC mill, but I have set simple dies, machined shoes, which are important to get right. So far I've done fairly well, at least good enough to get my atta boy from the bosses. lol. One of the 4 employees we do have is retiring mid December, so I am going to be the only CNC programmer/machinist, so I am trying to view this as my next big step up moment in my career. Only real question is how long this shop is going to be open, so far the owners are reluctant to say what the long term goals are. I've got some thinking to do in a few areas.
Thanks for your response, I will think long on that.
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
Last 10 years ,I had to work for wages (tax problems -hadnt paid any)....anyhoo,the one ticket I didnt have was big forklift....the bosses were always sending young guys for courses in this and that ......so why not me for a forklift?......"ya been drivin one for years,who needs a ticket?"......quite right ,but this one thing pissed me off,got me right offside with these two jerks.And it cost them far more than a one day forklift course.
 

kustomizer

Titanium
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Location
North Fork Idaho
I have expressed interest in advancing, perhaps not to the right people? I work in a tool and die shop, not very big. I usually run a CNC mill, but I have set simple dies, machined shoes, which are important to get right. So far I've done fairly well, at least good enough to get my atta boy from the bosses. lol. One of the 4 employees we do have is retiring mid December, so I am going to be the only CNC programmer/machinist, so I am trying to view this as my next big step up moment in my career. Only real question is how long this shop is going to be open, so far the owners are reluctant to say what the long term goals are. I've got some thinking to do in a few areas.
Thanks for your response, I will think long on that.

I respond poorly to "hints", you have to be up front and direct, not demanding but direct just the same to get my attention, this action may be a deciding factor in the long term of the shop. The retiring guy may be willing to help you if approached properly. I have helped guys working at other shops many times in my time, I have a couple right now. There is help out there for a guy wanting the knowledge, most of us old guys are willing to help those that prove worth while.
 

kustomizer

Titanium
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Location
North Fork Idaho
The risk with one employee training another is that errors,inefficiencies, and bad practices will become institutionalized....

This is a choice of the employer, to train , how to, or not at all, but for this employee who wants to learn, he will have to find it where he can.
 

chuckg7442

Aluminum
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
I respond poorly to "hints", you have to be up front and direct, not demanding but direct just the same to get my attention, this action may be a deciding factor in the long term of the shop. The retiring guy may be willing to help you if approached properly. I have helped guys working at other shops many times in my time, I have a couple right now. There is help out there for a guy wanting the knowledge, most of us old guys are willing to help those that prove worth while.

That is something I need to work on, being direct. Good opportunity to do so.
 

chuckg7442

Aluminum
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
The risk with one employee training another is that errors,inefficiencies, and bad practices will become institutionalized....

All of that can happen with an employee that doesn't have to be trained as well. We had a guy work for us and he butted heads with our head die maker. Each company has things done their way, not always wrong. But this guy tried checking clearances horizontally and with paper towels. That's not how things are done here and probably everywhere else too. There was a lot of strife at the shop during his time. Now we joke about it.
 

ttrager

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 23, 2015
This is a choice of the employer, to train , how to, or not at all, but for this employee who wants to learn, he will have to find it where he can.

Everyone has choices. And yes, "the boss" / "the employer" makes the choice in how training is conducted.

This Forum, IMO, talks about best practices (advice) on how to make things better where we work. In context here: The Employer makes the choice on how to train might be as much a Problem Statement as a Reasonable Explanation.

In the last place I worked we had a good training program running at one point, the most prominent factor being that Trainers were intentionally selected from experienced/more senior CNC operators who followed the Training Guide.

But the company ran into "management issues", and a bunch of leaders/managers were replaced with new people who, as it turned out, swaggered around looking for stuff to "prove" they were the best thing since sliced bread. Part of the fallout was that several procedures started to erode, and one of those was Training. "The Employer" decided to do things word of mouth and were assigning any ole Operator to train new hires, in some cases people who had only been working there days, or a couple of weeks". Needless to say the situation deteriorated to the point the Bigger Boss got involved and we corrected back to the original process as documented, and at the top of the list were:

1) Only Authorized (selected)Trainers are to Train.
2) The Training steps/processes for each position as documented were to be followed by Trainers.

Things cleaned up pretty quick, back to normal, after that.

If you are a tiny shop, well, you are stuck with whoever you have to train new hires. However, #2 above is worth considering: Whoever is going to Train should have at least some guideline as to how/what they are going to tell the new hire. Get that set now, evolve it to the point that is reasonable so that if you grow in size to the point you will assign selected people to train, #2 is already happening so you are just slotting in selected people. No real change.
 

BluishInventor

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
1) Only Authorized (selected)Trainers are to Train.
2) The Training steps/processes for each position as documented were to be followed by Trainers.

The first shop I was in had a check list for new hires. While each step wasn't detailed to the T, it gave a high level overview of things to cover.

Items could include:
- NC File Management
- Machine setup
- Tool Kitting
- Where to get custom fixturing
- Checking machine fluids/maint

Having a standardized process creates a space where questions can be quickly answered and isn't tribal knowledge. Dedicated trainers who understand the process and support it are key. Also, give them the flexibility to update and refine the training process that way it stays up to date with current shop practices and new equipment.

We are struggling with lack of standard shop processes due to a major business model shift and adapting to that new model. The 3 people who are accepting models from customers are storing them each in a different way. New revisions aren't being handled well and parts are being made to the wrong print... SMH. Then the blame game shows it's ugly head which is not at all useful. Time to teach some folks about the 5 Why?s and root cause analysis.
 

garyhlucas

Stainless
Joined
Oct 17, 2013
Location
New Jersey
This thread started with the boss leaving town and coming back to scrap. I was trying to reach a customer once and couldn’t because he was sailing from Washinton state to Hawaii during the busy season for his company. When he got back I asked him how he afford to do this. He said he learned it from a former employer.

As owner you worry about all kinds of stuff. Going away and seeing what fails gives you focus on the things you really need to work on and lets you stop worrying about all the others.
 








 
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