What Our Workers Need to Know

If we intend to develop an instructional communication process to equip employees/associates/workers to perform their critical tasks as perfectly as possible as often as possible, we first need to get our arms around what they need to learn, know and do.

The good news about any position, any department or group, or any employee is that the collective capability needed for effective performance is finite. That is, if you (and your department’s workers) sit down and list everything they need to know or do to be completely capable in the function, you would eventually capture everything on the list.

Capability–the collective knowledge and abilities required for effective performance in a position–consists of three components:

1. Performance of tasks or activities: what the workers actually do in order to achieve the department’s, function’s or organization’s objectives. In the parlance of the previous discussions, these are the processes performed in the interest of “achieving the mission.”

2. Skills: specialized abilities required by workers to perform the processes captured as tasks and activities. Executing the skill does not equate to performing the process (since a skill does not have a defined beginning or end), but the process could not be performed without the skill.

3. Knowledge: conceptual understanding that is essential to effectiveness of process performance. Most safety training undertaken by an organization falls into this category, as would a lot of quality and “lean” training.

I am aware that in some training constructs, these terms are used differently. Many would speak of establishing an “inventory of skills,” which in my terminology means (or includes) performance of the specific tasks or activities. This is really a disagreement on terminology, not a disagreement on the fundamental need to comprehensively capture what an individual needs to know to “do their job.”

We will focus on each of these separately in upcoming posts. But it is insightful to consider that every position in an organization fits this capability model. Whether the CEO, shift supervisor, accounting clerk or maintenance technician, any position has a finite capability associated with it. The proportion of task/activity, skill or knowledge capability will vary, but any position can (and should) be defined using the capability model.

In my next post, we focus on tasks and activities. Until then, feel free to comment on my posts and what you would like to see discussed,

Mr. Procedure

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About Tim James "Mr. Procedure"

A communicator; all-purpose capability in writing, designing and presenting training for all facets of organizational function. While my focus has been manufacturing, my training/development experience includes supervisory and lead person development, audit processes, continuous improvement and Lean, and Quality Management System implementation.
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