Welcome to Part 3 of Writing Amazing Job Instructions. Congratulations for getting this far. You're now well on your way to superior skills as a supervisor or front line manager. After all, everyone in that role needs to be able to instruct their team members, whether it is a new process, a new product or a new person on the team. When you can get them up and running quickly and doing the task correctly right from the start, your life will be easier.

In Part 1, we emphasized that you need to explain why the task you're training is important; why does it matter to the customer? In Part 2 we set out the three kinds of information that you need to include in every job instruction. Now, in Part 3, we will focus on what you need to know to write the Important Steps of a process.

There are four key points you need to know to write the Important Steps well.
1) Each step is a logical advance in the work.  At the end of each important step, you should be able to see a noticeable advance in the work. The product or service should be closer to what the customer wants. For example, installing a sub-assembly could be an important step, but picking up a wrench, though it is necessary to complete the task, isn't. One way to think about this is imagine telling a 7-year old about the task. The steps you'd use to tell her are often a good guide to the Important Steps of a task. When you write them this way, each Important Step is big enough to notice, and that helps people remember them.

2) Important Steps answer the question "WHAT is the next thing to do?"  We're looking for what to do. Using the question "What" helps us keep the Important Steps separate from the Key Points and the Reasons.

3) No more than 8. People can rarely remember more than 8 independent things, so with no more than 8, someone can remember the whole sequence fairly easily. When you're tempted to have more than 8, consider whether you can combine some of them, or whether you need to break the task apart into two (or more) elements that are taught separately.

4) Write notes as you go. As you work out the Important Steps, you'll think about lots of other details. Write them down as you go. They may well turn into Key Points or Reasons. Write them down so you'll remember them.

Think about a job that you will need to teach sometime in the next month. For your first one, you may want to pick a simpler job, just so you can practice it. Work out the Important Steps for this job. Your homework from last time will give you a start. Now you'll be able to refine what you've done and build on it.

See you next time. In the meantime, if you want to have a conversation about how the performance in your organization can improve dramatically by increasing the skills of your supervisors and front-line managers, please click here.

Good training!

Hugh Alley
First Line Training Inc.

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