Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thoughts on training.

Disney’s “pixie-dust” formula for generating committed employees has four key ingredients - selection, training, support and benefits.

Speaking of training, Lutron Electronics, a maker of lighting controllers, has factories in Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and St. Kitts in the Caribbean. Employees at all three plants share a common core training curriculum, specifically designed for the unique demands of mass customization and flexible specialization. As part of their development, employees rotate through different work cells in the factory, staying in each until they're judged to be proficient. This qualifies them for greater pay.

Workers in the Caribbean, in keeping with their plant’s make-to-supply charter, are taught to improve their skills on automated equipment. In Pennsylvania, employees are taught the nuances of make-to-order customization, interfacing directly with customers and visiting their sites. When business conditions change quickly, training has to be fast as well, able to provide immediate results.

Lutron leverages the capability of its technical designers across the whole sales and manufacturing process by building intelligence into its products (e.g. light dimmers) so customers can create what they need by adapting the product to their own requirements. Training a small number of people and using technology to leverage their skills is an effective way to defend against the cost of training large numbers of people who may leave and take their skills elsewhere.

Here's some advice about career self-reliance in the new economy. Think of yourself as a business and be clear about your area of expertise. Define your product or service and know who you’re going to sell it to. Understand the value you add for your customers and invest in your own growth. Know where your field of expertise is headed, and be willing to change and start a new business when it looks like your current one is becoming obsolete.

The new employer-employee contract should go something like this: You’re responsible for your own career. Your employer, will help provide you with experience and training that can keep you marketable, but not necessarily give you a job forever. If you work smarter and produce high quality goods and services, in return, the company will give you personal recognition, continuous training, and a good living. For both lower level employees and professionals, staying competitive is the only real job guarantee in the global economy. The twin tasks of teaching and learning should be ingrained as a major responsibility of every employee.

The late Anita Rodick, founder of The Body Shop, explaining that company’s decision to provide courses on aging, urban survival and sociology as well as courses on products and customer service, said, “You can train dogs. We wanted to educate our people and help them realize their full potential.”

1 comment:

cukie6 said...

I like the Disney Pixie Dust formula. So few people train and support anymore.