Welcome to Part 5 of Writing Amazing Job Instructions. At this stage, you’ve learned to explain why the task you’re training matters to the customer, you’ve had some practice writing Important Steps, and you’ve started to develop Key Points.

Today, in Part 5, we continue our focus on Key Points.

As we mentioned last time, Key Points are the things someone absolutely has to know to do an Important Step correctly. In general, if someone messes up on one of the Key Points - ignores it or tries to do a shortcut – the result won’t be good enough to continue with the process.

Last time we described the four kinds of key points: safety, make or break, tips and tricks, and tolerances, and we encouraged you to use this list as a checklist to make sure you’ve covered everything.

Today we’ll look at the three “key points” about “Key Points.”

  1. Key points answer the question, “How?” – Key points always describe how to do something so the step is done correctly, according to a standard. So if you are counting inventory in a rack, the key point might be “left to right on each shelf, top to bottom on the rack.” That is “how” you want the count done. Or you may have a key point of “use paper-tape calculator” when referring to a long calculation.
  2. When action depends on the condition, use the format “When condition A, do B” – The problem with “if” statements is that they are permissive. They allow someone to choose to do something or not. When there is a key point, it isn’t optional; using “When” statements makes it clear that every time the condition exists, you do the specified action.
  3. Phrase it in the positive – One of my mentors says, “What you focus on expands,” so if we ask people to “not” do something, they wind up focusing on that, rather than what we want. So if you are tempted to say “Don’t overtighten”, then think about what you actually want: finger tight and then a half-turn with a wrench. People are more likely to get it right when its phrased in the positive.


As we mentioned last time, developing the key points helps someone learn the essential elements of the task faster and better. It will let them get up to speed faster and make fewer mistakes.


Keep working on your key points. Revise what you developed after the last session using what you learned today. By the time you finish you’ll have your key points all figured out.

I’m so glad that you’re still participating. It’s often said that 90% of success is showing up, and you’re doing that.

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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