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Which is the best way of training employees in a small company. We are a business startup having 4 management people and 11 employees. Training is necessary for our business. We are currently doing in person training on employees. Sometimes this become time consuming and ineffective. We are looking for something like a cloud based system. Already heard about Skyprep online software. But we are still confused about using such a big system for a small company. Any advice?
Thats a broad question on a big topic.
Woodworking is a mature industry, it's been around since the days of the Pharaohs. Like any mature industry all the low hanging fruit has already been harvested so what is left for the rest of us by default is the hard to obtain. Training is difficult so everybody rationalizes not having a program for it. They shrug their shoulders at mistakes and say "It's an investment".
The reality is training is not an investment, it's an expense. The guys you are training have legs. You want therefore to invest in training 'systems' not training people. If you do this your crew will be more productive and you can pay them more money. Your customers will be happier too.Developing a training program will expand the group of viable candidates for your company and protect you from the vicissitudes of a changing economy.
Your training program should include some mechanism to certify knowledge or mastery of a skill. This is so that the worker themselves can be assured they are doing this correctly and so that people that allocate the tasks have a better comprehension of who actually knows how to do what.
What happens a lot in our shops is a guy will come in from somewhere else that also had a wide belt sander. When you ask him if he can run it the answer is "of course!" All wide belt sanders, however, are not operated the same. Starting up a two head machine is different than starting up a one head machine. You can toast the breakers if you don't let the first head get completely running before you hit the second switch. How would the new guy know this if someone forgot to tell them? How would YOU know they knew this so they didn't unintentionally toast your machine.
Most jointers don't have electronic brakes so most woodworkers don't know you can fry the brake if you don't wait for it to completely shut down before starting up again.
We one time had two guys come to work for us that were the last standing from a supposedly "high-end" 80 man shop that went defunct. When we asked them why they didn't use the butt-rest on our slide saw it was like a deer staring into headlines. Somehow nobody at that 80 man company never got the memo about how to properly load or drive a sliding table saw yet if you asked them they would always nod their head and say they did.
I recall one time seeing a salesman at the Colonial Saw Booth in Atlanta demonstrate flipping boards on a Streibig Vertical Panel saw. He used two index fingers to completely flip the board inside the saw without picking up the weight of the board at all. Think about how many millions of man-hours have been spent and are continuing to be spent doing this back breaking job that a properly trained man can do with two fingers! Think of how many guys have pressed their cheek against a dust collector to hold a plastic bag in place while they wrestle on the clamps? Just a little training program would show you how to do this with a rare earth magnet instead.
A well designed training system can also help create training systems. I will have more on that later.
For now follow Derrek's lead and look into how you can use video to improve and lower costs of training.
Tim - great answer.