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Is classroom quality training efficient for engineers?

The root-cause analysis outcome for system issues is lack of competence.

Corrective action: Training – of course!

How many times have you met with this symptom?

Some automotive core-tools competences for some engineers are missing. The obvious solution: send them for training!

What is next?

HR got the task to organize training about automotive quality topics, like APQP, PPAP, 8D, FMEA, MSA, etc.

Simple, right?

The best thing is that once the training is ordered, there is no such difference if 10 or 15 guys participate. Let’s send some technicians, other engineers, internal auditors, whoever has some time can participate. More is just better.

The training is held by a qualified expert (a good chance that he did not work in a production plant for ten years or more), and he/she mainly explains the things which are already described in the released handbooks/standards. OK, they can also answer questions, present it more deeply.

Due to important meetings, production issues, and phone conferences, many participants walk in and out during the day.

Final result: everyone passed the test, the same satisfaction feeling for the different persons:

  • HR: Training finished, job well done!
  • Managers: Training finished – no more excuse, let’s work!
  • Quality system auditors: There was training, the competence is now improved! Great evidence for future audits!
  • 8D team: the systematic issue is corrected, the claim can be closed now!

Everyone is happy….or…almost everyone.

How about the engineer?

Even he could not participate during the whole time, some chapters missed, but finally, he received the certification – that is good, as it can be useful for the next job, it can be listed in the CV as well.

Did it make any sense? Will he understand the reasons behind, will he see the whole picture?

I doubt that.

Why do we fool ourselves and address competence issues by organizing classroom training about generic, well-documented quality topics? Just because everyone does the same? Or because the auditors look for evidence?

Has anyone really looked at which part of competence is missing for the engineer? Not as general, but specifically.

Based on my seventeen years of experience, such classroom training are just not efficient.

I know I will be criticized – especially by some training institutions.

Indeed, there are circumstances when they can be useful if the intention is to get a general description or some generic explanation for freshly graduated engineers. However, often they are not only used for such a purpose. They are used because we choose the most straightforward answer for improving competence without considering other solutions.

Why is that year after years, series of same training held at the same company, most of the time for the same audience? Same actions, same results.

Shouldn’t we do something different?

A much better solution to find an experienced mentor for the engineer who supports him/her during real challenges while he solves real issues.

Such a mentor can be internal or external, but he must have excellent practical knowledge and skill and willingness to transfer his knowledge.

I already described that in detail in my other article: Train your own team! , but here are some other examples.

  • Not fully understand MSA Gage R&R? Help him to manage a full study alone. Support him with the planning, execution, and interpretation of the result.
  • Systematic root cause analysis issue? Explain to him the background and do the fishbone analysis together with the team. Do not let them simply rule out possibilities, but show them the proper way of verification.
  • FMEAs have nothing to do with reality? Find a mentor for the team, do the studies together.

Bad news: it will not be finished in 2 days, like classic classroom training with an external trainer. Jolly joker solutions do not work in real life.

Such a process requires much longer time, months, half a year, or more.

On the other hand, the engineer will finally have a skill. The change can not be observed from one day to another.

But when you look back, you will see a different work quality, and you will see a motivated person who is eager to learn and who has his day by day, issue by issue successes.

Assess the needs and define necessary actions individually and find the right mentor for your colleagues.

As always, think in system with Pro Automotive.

If you are interested in reading articles about automotive quality management topics, best practices, case studies, follow Pro Automotive.


Train your own team!

Several years ago, as a quality manager, I found myself in a situation that I had to make a tough decision. I quickly needed to build up my customer quality engineering team due to responsibility changes within the organization.

I had two choices:

  • hire experienced quality engineers as quickly as possible
  • choose internal candidates without any experience within the customer quality field

I made several interviews, met some “quality stars” from outside who had lots of confidence, but I realized that they also had lack of technical knowledge as well.

Just because someone worked as quality engineers for years, unfortunately it does not necessarily mean they have the knowledge which is required for the task and the personality which is needed for the team.

Finally, I recognized that anyway I need to train my colleagues a lot and in mid term, it is much more important to have team members who are eager to learn and who are fitting into the team.

I decided to choose internal candidates who really wanted to learn and convinced them to take this challenge.

I personally made several trainings for them, focusing on problem solving and Core Tools, but only which were appropriate for them.

The best method to train your employees is to let them work on challenges – learning by doing.

When the first quality claim arrived (certainly on Friday afternoon – as always…), I took the lead in the claim handling and explained all steps and the reasons behind, I led the customer communication.

But they got small tasks within the claim handling process which they were able to solve.

From time to time they got more and more responsibility and they were able to manage it better and better.

Half a year later they were working independently, but they always came to me for advice if they needed, explained what they were planning, and weekly we reviewed the risks and the difficulties together. They were motivated and their skills improved a lot. Now one of them is working as a Quality Manager.

What else could be more motivating for a leader than to support candidates from the organization to develop themselves?

As always, think in system with Pro Automotive.

If you are interested in reading articles about automotive quality management topics, best practices, case studies, follow Pro Automotive.

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