Welcome to Part 6 of Writing Amazing Job Instructions. Congratulations for getting this far. You’ve almost finished the program and you are well on your way to a level of skill in instructing that is rare in industry. Every supervisor and front line manager needs to be able to instruct their team members, whether you’re facing a new process, a new product or a new person on the team. Your life will be easier when you can teach people quickly and have them doing the task correctly right from the start.

So far, 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 developed the Key Points for the job you’re working on.

In today’s session you’ll learn to provide Reasons.

Reasons give an explanation. Why should the task be done a particular way. You may have had the experience of someone telling you to do something “this way” without any justification, and at least in my experience, it isn’t very satisfying. If there isn’t a reason, I’m likely to try something else that seems like it might be easier.

There are three key points about providing reasons.

  1. Reasons answer the question “Why”.  People like to know why they’re asked to do something and they seem to especially like to know why they have to do something a particular way. There are two major types of answers you will provide. One is consequences. The other is that there is a policy or law that requires it. For example, if you are starting a boiler, the potential consequence of doing a step wrong might be that the boiler blows up. Usually the consequences aren’t so catastrophic. But my experience is that when people know the potential consequences, they’re more likely to do things the way you have asked them to.
  2. There should be at least one reason for each key point – This is pretty sensible. If there is a key point – something that you need to know to complete the step successfully, there probably is a reason. We need to share that reason with the operator. And if you can’t come up with a reason, then maybe you need to rethink whether the Key Point is really important enough to mention.
  3. You rarely require theory – There is a real temptation for people (especially managers with lots of education) to provide theory as part of the reasons. In most cases it isn’t necessary. For example, it is usually enough to know that the consequence of opening a valve incorrectly will be an explosion. You don’t need to understand Boyle’s law to know that this is a bad thing. Theory can sometimes be useful, especially if the task is related to fine tuning operating parameters. But most of the time you don’t need to include it.

You’ll often have the reasons in your notes from earlier stages of writing Important Steps or developing Key Points, so it shouldn’t be much work to put this together.

You’ve been working your way through a job instruction. You should be ready to provide the reasons for each of the key points you have listed.

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.

If you'd like to remove your email address from this list, you can click here to unsubscribe.