Manufacturers are faced with a much different workforce than they've traditionally dealt with. Whereas previous generations had more foundational knowledge, incoming generations need guidance and skill development programs to make them feel comfortable and successful in the industrial work environment.

In the second episode of The Voices of Manufacturing, Brian talks with Chad Hertlein, a Training Specialist from General Mills.

Chad believes that an investment in the people behind your manufacturing business is the most impactful way that you can improve production. By adapting your training programs to meet the needs of the current generations, you will create a happier and more productive workforce.

A full transcript along with additional resources are listed below.

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Additional Resources

Episode 2: The Voices of Manufacturing

Brian Sallee: I'm your host, Brian Sallee. Joining me today, I've got Chad Hertlein. Chad is a training specialist at General Mills. Welcome to the podcast, Chad. Thanks for joining us. 

Chad Hertlein: Hi, how are you? 

Brian Sallee: I'm doing great. Appreciate you joining the podcast. I'm looking forward to this episode. Today we're going to talk about investing in your frontline through skill building. 

And I know this is a topic that is on the minds of a lot of manufacturing leaders today. They've got challenges with being able to fill open roles. They've got a lot of retirements. And one of the things executives are really focused on is, "How do I get more from the people I already have on my staff right now?"

So getting people to take on additional roles to take on additional cross training so that they are more capable employees. I'm looking forward to this episode with you, Chad. And before we jump into it, you want to give us a little background? What's your role there at General Mills? And what are you focused on?

Chad Hertlein: I've been in the company or I've been in manufacturing for 28 years and I focus mainly on training new operators and then working with our current operators in movement across positions and movement within the plant. I've spent time on the production floor and as well as helping folks, so kinda gives me a good, pretty good perspective on what they might need and what we can do to help them.

Brian Sallee: Yeah, I think that's really interesting that you've had that perspective where you've worked on the front lines, you know, what it's like to be out there and, you know, a lot of the challenges of being a new operator. 

I guess maybe one of the things I want to jump right into then with you is, what are some of the challenges that you're seeing, when it comes to, being on the frontline as an operator, specifically, you know, around skill development?

Chad Hertlein: One of the biggest challenges that I see is just overall, just training as a whole. Everyone needs to do a better job of adapting to the current worker. The worker coming into the workplace now is not the same person they were 10, 15, maybe even 20 years ago. 

You came in with certain skill sets, usually. You had a pretty good idea of some troubleshooting and how to deal with certain situations. A lot of the folks coming in now they don't have that necessarily just because culture has changed. The way that they learn has changed. They're used to having something in front of them that tells them what to do YouTube or, things like that.

And in a lot of cases, we don't adapt to that. Training hasn't an adapted; and they struggle. Because they don't understand the way that we're trying to teach them things. That's probably the biggest piece that I see as being an issue.

People just don't learn the same way, they have short attention spans usually, and we need to tailor training to that. We have a tendency to sit them in a room and bombard them with all this stuff and they just don't pay attention.

They need to have something in their hands. They need to have something physical, a tablet or a mobile device or something, to engage them. That seems to really be a key in getting their attention and helping them understand and learn. 

Brian Sallee: I want to go back to something you said there because I think this is really interesting when you start to think about this a little bit deeper. You said they're always used to having, pretty much information at their fingertips, the ability, like you said, to access YouTube to learn how to do something or figure out how to do something.

That goes for any of us these days, right? We can do a search online real quick and we can find what we're looking for. But the experience that you're saying in the factory is completely different, you come in and you don't have that ability. 

Chad Hertlein: Yeah. In a lot of cases, you don't. And it's just because, technology's not there yet or, it hasn't been brought into the workplace yet. And people struggle.

Brian Sallee: Yeah, I think the other thing I wanted to ask you about here, we've got to adapt to their learning style. What else about their learning style has changed? I think I've heard, a lot of folks talk about these people that are coming into manufacturing have different interests now than maybe 20, 30 years ago.

I heard someone mentioned this to me previously. It might've been, you actually. 20, 30 years ago, you'd work on your car after work... and these days, you're playing video games. How has that impacted the way that they're learning as well that?

Chad Hertlein: Their skillset coming in is not what it was. They're not used to having tools in their hands and doing things like that. Think about even my kids, my kids would be in the same boat going into manufacturing because they've had an Xbox controller or, some sort of gaming device in their hand, versus being out working on a car or, working on a lawnmower even, or just troubleshooting some simple things around the house.

They don't have that skillset and it's not their fault. It's just the way that things have changed. The world has just changed and the way that we do everything has changed. And that just means that as folks in training, we need to adapt and train them in a way that they understand it.

Brian Sallee: Yeah, and does that mean, because they haven't been getting hands-on experience in their personal lives, like folks were two decades, three decades ago? What does that really mean for folks in training? You're starting at a lower level, I anticipate then. You're really having to focus on some really basic skills. I mean, is it as basic as, "This is the difference between a Phillips screwdriver and a Flathead screwdriver." Is it that basic?

Chad Hertlein: Yeah, in a lot of cases, it is. We have to build their skill. When they come in, we need to invest in them and build that skillset.

That's not something that we're used to doing in training. We're just not used to going that deep into the layers of, what a person knows and their skillset to help them. But I think to succeed and to progress and make manufacturing, or really any job for that matter, a desirable and successful place for them to work.

We have to build their skill up. We have to go, okay. We just have to, when they come in, assume that we need to teach them these things, because in most cases they don't know. Even the difference, what a bearing is. In manufacturing, you're going to run into bearings and gearboxes and all that stuff on a daily basis.

You can't just walk past a bearing that just spits its guts out on the floor and go, "Ehh, I don't know what that is," and just keep going. You should be able to stop and identify that problem and let somebody know and get it addressed before it causes serious downtime for the process.

That's the stuff that we have to go to that level and start teaching them and helping them identify and learn that sort of skill. 

Brian Sallee: Yeah and are you seeing that shift happening when it comes to training, are you seeing this shift to where the companies are understanding that the entry-level point of an operator in their organization is now.

The skill level is so low that they got to start training at a much lower level. Is that, I guess, well-recognized?

Chad Hertlein: I think it's becoming recognized. Especially today. Everybody's struggling to get people in the door. And when they come, you want them to stay because you invest in that person and you spend a lot of time and even money trying to skill that person or to bring them along to where they can be a productive member of the team.

Yeah, so I think people are starting to identify it. We need to bridge that gap and we need to do it pretty quick. But I think it's an urgent situation that people need to start addressing and just to help people learn, and maybe we can start retaining some people. 

Brian Sallee: Yeah, so it sounds like you're saying that retention rates are being impacted by the quality of training that a new employee receives? 

Chad Hertlein: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. If they don't understand and you've taken them through your time with them and you turn them loose to the wild. They get frustrated and they leave. Because they can go somewhere else and they can get another job and, maybe it's something that's more their speed.

You've already invested all that time and money and effort into that person, to what you think is skilled up. Instead of wasting it, doing the wrong things, we need to start focusing on the right things and make it a pleasant experience for the new person or the operator as well.

If we don't make things easier for them to understand and teach them the language of manufacturing, then it's just going to continue to be a problem. 

Brian Sallee: Yeah. It, it really seems you've got multiple challenges here that you're working through. The skill level is less than it's ever been.

You've got people who, as you were saying, haven't have touched a screwdriver before they don't know what a bearing is or a gearbox. And so you got to get their skill level up. 

And then on top of that, the other thing you're saying is, not only do you have to provide this deeper level of training than you've ever had before, but you need to provide the training in a format that is going to resonate and is actually going to be effective for these people to follow.

Chad Hertlein: Yep, absolutely. If they can't follow it, they don't get anything out of it. I've actually been through many training sessions, and I can tell when I'm being engaging and I'm keeping their interest and when I'm not. A lot of the folks now have a very short attention span.

If you don't capture them quick, you're going to lose them quick. And so you have to say things and do things to grab their attention. And I think one of the things that we can do is start integrating some of the technology and some of the devices and things like that into that training to grab their attention right away. Because a lot of people think that, "oh, I'm going into manufacturing. This is going to be this high-tech place." In, in, in a lot of cases. It's not. 

And then they get in and they're like, "Man, I don't understand anything that's going on around me because it's not technology. So if we can get technology in their hands and start leveraging systems to grab their attention right off the bat.

It's kind of the cool factor, right? It's cool to come into a place and have something in your hand and you're learning with it; with a tablet or a cell phone or whatever. You're learning with some technology. So you gotta factor in the cool factor for them too. If they think it's cool then you've won, and they're going to be engaged.

Brian Sallee: Yeah that's really interesting, the "cool" factor, because think about the ways I see a lot of manufacturers do training. Classroom training, over the last year, I think has dwindled quite a bit due to, the pandemic. Job shadowing still seems to be the primary way that manufacturers are training new operators.

And job shadowing has its place. I think there's always room for job shadowing if it's done correctly. But if it's your sole method of training, what you're saying here is that, if I'm going to train a new operator on how to run a piece of equipment, and I'm going to ask them to go stand next to Chad, because Chad's the expert and watch Chad run that piece of equip."

They're going to lose interest? Is that what you typically see? Yeah, 

Chad Hertlein: In a lot of cases. Yeah. Well if you give them a device and send them to the floor with the device AND shadow someone, then in those moments where they start to fade, their attention span starts to go, it can direct to that device and they'll start digging around in that device themselves and start finding some things.

And in a way that's empowering to them as well. Because they're not relying on someone, strictly, to show them the ropes. They have the ability themselves to explore and learn. And I think that helps too. And then that sparks some really good conversations around, "Hey, what's this? Why does this work this way?" Because they've looked at it on a guide, you know, on a mobile device, and now it's sparked that conversation with that person that's training them or the person that they're shadowing. And I think that's engaging and it helps 

Brian Sallee: Is that a personality characteristic of the younger workforce? Are you seeing folks that just tend to be more curious? 

Chad Hertlein: Yeah, that natural curiosity is there, but we have to be able to give them the information in a way that makes sense to them and that they want it. They don't want, they don't want a piece of paper. They want a YouTube video, or they want a guide in Dozuki. Or they want something that is engaging to them that's more in their technology world than a piece of paper. 

Piece of paper, we hand it to them and they look at it and they go, "Yeah, I'm not reading all that." They don't have any interest in looking at that piece of paper. There is zero interest in that. 

Brian Sallee: Yeah. Who could blame them? When, your personal life, rarely are you looking up something in a book anymore these days. You're going online and doing a search or, like you said earlier, Youtube. 

Chad Hertlein: Yep. So we make it normal for them. We just tried to present it in the way that they expect it.

I've had a few experiences where I've handed somebody a piece of paper and they just look at me like, "What's this? Well, you expect me to read that? I don't think I'm going to read all that." And you can just see it on their face. And you're like, okay boy, this isn't gonna go the way I want it to.

But I've done the same thing with a tablet and handed it to them, the same information and they immediately grab it and start poking around and looking through it. It's, that's just the way they want to learn. 

Brian Sallee: Yeah, and so on that point, because this is something you had mentioned to me previously, and I really thought this was an interesting statement you had said, " If we modernize and adapt the way we train, then it makes things more natural to the employees, or more relatable.

Ultimately, what does that lead to though? Because as we were talking about earlier, if the training's not very good, people are going to leave. They don't have to stick around. They've got other job opportunities, especially with all the open positions right now. But what is a good, modern training experience lead to for these operators?

What are some of the outcomes you've noticed? 

Chad Hertlein: Some of the things that  I've noticed is they're more confident in their job. Even when I introduced this to them, digital technology, they're immediately more confident. It's the craziest thing I've ever seen.

They feel comfortable. Like, "okay, I have what I'm used to in my hands." And it leads to operators who are more developed, and happy, and engaged. Ultimately, I think everybody wants their operators to own their process and take control of what they're doing.

And if they have a question and everything's done, the answer for that question should be at their fingertips, and they feel comfortable with that. I had someone just last week that I was working with and, as soon as I presented the digital information to them, they were like, "Oh yeah. Okay, let's do this. I'm ready to go."

Having that technology in your hands just I've noticed that it just makes them feel better, immediately, about what they're doing.

 If that's all we can accomplish is just making them feel comfortable. And then they settle in and they start learning the jobs even better. Then we win. If they're not comfortable, then they're not going to stay. They're just not.

They're going to explore another opportunity. The days of somebody working at a place for 40, 50 years, you don't see that a lot anymore. Especially with the younger generations, because there are so many opportunities and different avenues and that they can take that, you just don't see that retention like you used to. And if you can engage them and they feel comfortable and they feel like this is a good spot for me, then I think you can win. 

Brian Sallee: Yeah. So the confidence, I want to hone in on that for a second here. Because I've been in lots of manufacturing plants, and as a first-timer in a plant, you walk in and it is pretty intimidating. Especially, I've been to some of your plants and I've seen, some of the automation you guys have running and it's just it's pretty dizzying when you first walk in.

I couldn't imagine it being a new operator. My job is to, maintain that piece of equipment or, do a changeover, or whatever. That would be extremely intimidating. So the confidence that comes from having the support of, you know, some digital technology to reference how to do something, I could totally see how that would improve my confidence in my ability to get things done.

When you think about it from maybe the plant management perspective, you see this, you're working closely with these new operators cause you're in training. But some of the people who maybe aren't working as closely with operators, do they recognize that, say your plant managers and some of your executives, do they understand how better training is going to impact the confidence level of an employee?.

Chad Hertlein: I think that part of it is really starting to come to the forefront now. I think I've noticed in manufacturing as a whole that it seems like there's a recognition there now of the gaps and the stuff that we're messing with our new hires.

I think everybody's scrambling around right now, trying to figure out what that is. And yeah I definitely see a big uptick in recognition of that.

And people wanting to start to go down that avenue of technology and helping people get better. 

Brian Sallee: Technology obviously is becoming more advanced, there's more automation, more robotics, and manufacturing; is that what's driving the recognition? That "Hey, training needs to improve because the skill gap is so large. Like we were talking about earlier, “Who's the employee I can actually trust to run this line?”

Or is it more around those open positions and everything else? 

Chad Hertlein: I think it's a combination of both, definitely the technology in manufacturing has progressed a ton over the last even 15, 20 years. And there's a lot of automation in manufacturing now and it can be intimidating.

As a new person walking into a facility, if you've never been in that sort of surrounding or setting before, it's overwhelming. And I've seen people get completely overwhelmed just by walking into a room before and go, oh my goodness. Look at everything going on in here.

It's high speed. Everything's high speed and manufacturing and it's overwhelming.

Brian Sallee: Yeah. Now Chad, what about, we talked a lot about these younger generations that are coming into the workforce and needing to adapt the way we train to meet their learning style. But what about folks that have been around for a while? What about folks that have been in manufacturing; and you need them to gain new skills or you need to cross-train them?

How have you seen them react to this more modern approach to training, where you're using more of a digital format? 

Chad Hertlein: At first, some of them were a little... they're like, "Yeah, okay. I can never do that." But then once you sit down with them and you go through it and you say, "Hey, you know, what can you operate a smartphone?"

"Well, yeah." Can you send a text? Can you take a picture? Can you do this stuff? "Well, yeah." Then you'll be fine. It's the other end of making them comfortable, right? 

Just like the paper's foreign to the younger people. These devices are a little foreign to the operators that have been there. Because a lot of them aren't used to that technology and they've been doing those jobs for a long time and you're introducing something that's foreign to them, right? 

But, usually if you take the approach of, Hey, you know what I need to take what's in your head and I need to give it to this person.

I need to be able to present to them so that when you're gone, you're on your off hours or whatever, and they're here running your piece of equipment that you've ran for 20 years, that when you come back in, in the morning, they've ran it the way that you would or the way that it should be.

That's a big piece of selling it to those folks and once you explain it to them that way, and you just say, " We're doing this to help, and I need you to look at this every day to make sure that you haven't changed something in your process so that they're doing what they need to be doing when you're not here.

So you don't walk in the morning and go, "Why did they do this? Why did they change this? Why is it running like this? What'd they do this for?" We need to get rid of that. Cause that doesn't work. We can't run good while you're here and then struggle while you're gone and then it runs good again when you're back in. Now, we need you to be engaged, to help us bring them along.

I've found that approach. Really engages them and they're like, "okay." I've had some pretty tough sells on that. And once I break it down and explain it to them that way, it's not necessarily that we're doing this for you, but we need to capture what you know so that it's always here because you're going to retire someday.

And the line can't just fall apart because you're gone. And we need to capture that. That way it just makes your job easier. So when you come in the next day it's running the way that you left it. And that helps. That really helps them and it eases them into it. And, a lot of times they're like, "Alright, well, come here. Let me see this thing."

And then you have a conversation around the device and start talking through it. 

Brian Sallee: Yeah. So this is, we were talking about job shadowing earlier. Essentially what you're doing is, instead of doing the job shadowing that’s one-to-one, now you're doing, maybe one-to-20, or however many people can be trained from that knowledge that you're capturing from that experienced operator.

I'm curious though, cause it's interesting. You have the challenge of getting these, maybe those more experienced folks, that have been around for a long time. You need to get them comfortable with the technology. And the way that you're doing that though you're engaging them.

You're asking them to contribute their knowledge. Is that the real appeal for, some of those more experienced folks is that they're being recognized for their knowledge. 

Chad Hertlein: Absolutely. If you don't recognize them as a key member of what you're doing, then it's not going to work.

You have to recognize those folks because those folks, hey, that person's ran that machine for 20 years for you really well. Don't just dismiss everything they've done. You need to engage them in the process. Another thing that we're doing to ease those folks into it is by introducing the devices as soon as a new person hits the floor, as part of their training, their introduction to what we're doing.

Then they help that older generation of workers understand the device as well. So they're out there poker on this device and that person goes well, how'd you do that? And this person is like, "Oh, you just do this, this, and this." So we're leveraging them to train the older employee as well.

So I think that's, I think that's a key. Cause, we can't walk around and train everybody on how to use a tablet or anything like that. But if we have younger people who are used to it and then we can leverage that, and it's engaging both ways. 

Brian Sallee: That's what I was just going to say, that's the interesting part about what you're saying here. You really have a really a relationship, a peer relationship. 

Where the experienced person is getting knowledge from the younger operator and the younger operator is clearly gaining knowledge from the experience. It's just, one is on the technology side and one is more on the process side. 

Chad Hertlein: And you're knocking it out at the same time. That's how I see it. It could be crazy, but that's how I see it.

We can use each person to train the other person on what they need to know. 

Brian Sallee: Well, that's really interesting. I've seen some of that friction before, where you've got the older experienced operator who needs to train the younger experience operator and they don't want to share all their tips and tricks.

They're over there laughing as they see that younger operator making a mistake and they're cracking up about it. How do you though, there's always that little bit of friction. Like how do you cross over that though, to where that experienced operator recognizes that they need that maybe, a less experienced operator to help them as well?

Chad Hertlein: Well, let's see. That's the thing with it is they don't I don't think they really were doing it without them knowing it's just being introduced. It's something that they're getting used to seeing in the invite. And they're curious too. Like if that person's over there and they're poking around on that tablet and they may not like it, but they're going to say, well, "what are you doing over there?" let me see what you're doing."

And I've seen that help the engagement in that part of it. But yeah, I absolutely, I've one thousand percent and seen that. That person will stand back and let them struggle. And I'm hoping that by recognizing the experienced operator for their abilities and having them be engaged and help with document creation or updates or whatever. Having them involved and recognizing them for their experience and their knowledge helps them want to help that person.

It breaks down that wall and that barrier, and they don't even realize that they're helping one another. 

Brian Sallee: Or are you saying the more recognition you give an operator, one of those experienced workers, the more they're going to be willing to help?

Chad Hertlein: Yep. If they get the recognition of, “Hey, I need you to help me with this.” Instead of you just walking out and saying, “This is what you're going to do. And this is how you're going to do it.” That shuts them down right away. They will shut down and they will do nothing to help you in most cases.

But if you go out there and say, “Hey, here's the new process that we're going through.” And back to the, “I need to capture what's in your head thing and I need you to help me do it. Because you're the expert.” Then that engages them and that makes them feel that worth and that need. It's just some recognition.

And I think a little bit of recognition goes a long way. 

Brian Sallee: Yeah. And I think, maybe a question that I'm sure some of our audience will have here is, and I hear this a lot, there's this kind of reluctance to trust operators to document processes, or to create training materials, or to train new employees.

There's a reluctance there, and it seems to be like maybe a stigma from the past that just continues carry on with operators. 

Chad Hertlein: So my take on part of that is, " Who's truly the expert on that machine? The person that runs it every day or, you know, me sitting in an office thinking this is how it works.

They know all the ins and outs of that machine. They know what's going on with that machine, that equipment. So that really helps them, identify and be able to create that content because they know the little tips and tricks that they need to know to do different things. 

I don't think you ever put anything out there without an approval process or something in place.

If there is a question on something then that's a conversation that should be sparked by that document, or by that update to a document, or whatever. It should kick off a conversation of, "Okay well, this is how this is supposed to work. Why are you doing it this way?"

And, maybe even the person sitting in an office can learn something about that equipment as well. Or it could identify a defect in any equipment that needs to be corrected. There's several different ways to look at it and you can go with that. 

Brian Sallee: Yeah. And that's what I was hoping to get to with this is to understand, as you're saying here there's still a review that has to happen, when it comes to creating this, whether it's your work instructions or your training material there's still a review that has to happen.

You can't just allow an operator to have. Control over creating that and releasing it to the new operators. 

Chad Hertlein: But if you engage them in it, then they're a part of it and they feel better about it. They may not like the result all the time, well, no, we really shouldn't be doing it that way.

But at the same time, maybe they have some really good ideas on things that can improve your process too. And it's just, it's stuff that they've been doing without, just a little tips and tricks that they have that you need to capture. 

Brian Sallee: Got it. So by engaging these experienced operators, as you were saying, you can learn from them, you can gain some improvements and tips and tricks.

That's going to allow you to improve a lot faster than maybe you could have previously. What benefits have you seen at your company from that while where you have these experience operators and they are contributing new ideas? 

Chad Hertlein: Oh, it just day-to-day operation. There's different things that, that people do that weren't necessarily the norm that, become the norm now because there's been a conversation around it. And now, they've made an improvement based on just a simple interaction like that. 

A lot of times we don't get that interaction because we tend to, and I've been guilty of it myself, you that your way is the right way, and you're just going to be stubborn about it, and that's the way you're going to do it.

Or, you're just going to keep doing what you're doing. And that conversation doesn't happen. And then, the wheels fall off the bus, right? So this just helps engage that conversation and get that conversation going. We've seen several processes improve just through that simple interaction that we haven't had in the past.

Brian Sallee: Yeah. And I would love, I don't know if you have any specific examples of stories. Are there any instances where there's been a significant improvement in say like a cycle time or reduction and maybe some scrap waste or material waste or things like that by incorporating feedback from one of your operators?

Chad Hertlein: Sure. We've had improvements in changeover time, just because an operator was stepping through a process and they were like, "You know what, this needs to be here and this needs to be here." And then you make that change and guess what? You just shaved 45 minutes off a change over just by making one simple change that was documented in that digital content. We've seen instances like that. 

Uh, you know, you can see gains in your PM program. PM programs can be greatly impacted by digital technology because you can now provide the operator with video, or with images, or with a step-by-step walk-through of how to actually perform the PM on that equipment.

A lot of manufacturers have documentation out there that you can leverage straight off of YouTube that shows you specifically how to PM their piece of equipment. And they provide that.

And if you don't have the digital technology or the means to present that to them, then it's just a waste. You're losing out. And you're doing your own thing and it's wrong.

So now you can leverage that content where you can have operators pass that knowledge along. To another team or another group that would be performing that PM. They may not be as experienced. You can hand someone a tablet and say, here you go, here's your process, knock it out.

And they can do it because everything's there documented, step-by-step, and it's available on the production floor. Availability and portability are huge. 

Brian Sallee: I was just going to say, as you're talking through this I'm summarizing this in my head, but this really comes down to, it's not just, this digital technology it's the bottom line is you are able to access information.

As we talked about at the beginning, you have quick access to this information that you know, you haven't had before. And that's what's really enabling these operators to move faster, train faster, improve processes faster. 

Chad Hertlein: Well and being able to provide video is huge. YouTube, right?

I mean, that's how we all do things. That's how I do it. And then when we train to it, we tell them, when you're creating a document, think of it as you're performing, YouTube, you're watching a YouTube video. 

When you're creating that document where you would pause it, guess what? That's a new step. 

Don't make them pause it. Give them the break in there. Have them perform the task and then go on to the next. That makes a huge difference. I know it's frustrating to me, you're doing something, you have to pause it, come back, unlock your phone and get back in there. 

With this digital technology and what we were able to provide with tablets and stuff like that, we can actually build those breaks in when we create the content. And okay, "Here's your pause point. Here's your next pause point. Here's your next pause point." And break it down step by step like that. And as detailed as you can possibly make it. That makes them feel even that much more comfortable.

Brian Sallee: Wow, and I wasn't even thinking we would get into the tactical of, how to create this training content. But since we're here, I do have to hone in on that for a second. What you're talking about here, we've all had that experience where we're watching a YouTube video and you're exactly right. It's like you get to that point in the video, I got to pause it, cause now I got to take this bolt off or whatever I'm doing. And then restarted up again. 

What you're saying here is, you can create shorter videos essentially. With the natural pause points built in. It's not, you're not advocating for one long video for the entire process that, that's not as effective as breaking it up into short videos.

Chad Hertlein: Yeah. And with our training documentation in general, it needs to be detailed. And that allows you to break it down. Cause it's digital, right? It's not paper. You had to fit it into a couple of pages. And because you can't carry a book around everywhere with you on the production floor.

But with digital content, it doesn't matter. It could, you could have something that would be two pages long or one page long. And guess what? Now it's digital and you've broken that down into 20 steps or 30 steps. It doesn't matter because it's digital content. And you can provide the person with a very detailed, "This is what you do in this step."

And, you know, if you provide a video example of that, "Here is your exact video of what this is going to look like." And that's another thing that I like to do too is I don't, I don't want the pretty version of what they're doing. If they're struggling with something, I want the operator to see that you're going to struggle with this.

Putting that belt back on is tough. It's not easy. "This is going to flip over and you're going to struggle with this and you're going to have trouble here." That way, when they're actually performing the tasks. They understand this is what it really looks like. I'm not doing anything wrong.

That's what it actually looks like. That's the struggle that I'm supposed to have. I don't want the pretty version. I don't want the perfect version of that. If you smashed your finger, leave it in there because guess what? They're probably going to smash their finger.

Brian Sallee: Chad, that might be the best tactical advice I've ever received when it comes to creating training documentation. Cause you're a hundred percent right. I could tell you the number of times I've watched a YouTube video, I've been working on something, on my motorcycle or something like that. I'm like, "Is it supposed to be this hard to access this bolt?"

And the video makes it look completely simple and I'm questioning, am I doing this the right way? And what you're saying is, leave the ugly stuff in there so people know that there they are on the right track. It's just, yeah, 

Chad Hertlein: Absolutely. Leave it in there. Don't make it, don't make it pretty.

Show him what it really is, what it really looks like. Yeah, like I said then that way they know they're not struggling. They're not doing something wrong, you're doing it right. It just isn't the best process in the world to follow or to do, if there's some challenge to it. 

Brian Sallee: Wow. That's amazing, tactical advice. I literally have never heard that before. And I've been working in manufacturing training for 10 years now. That's awesome advice. I want to transition here so we can wrap this up. This has been a great episode with you. I think we've learned a lot from you.

I do want to ask you a question, based on our conversation today, we're really talking about, how do we modernize training, so that we can really empower these frontline operators to learn on their own with some of these new digital tools that are out there?

What's one piece of tactical advice. You'd want to share with the audience today, based on what we talked about? 

Chad Hertlein: You know what, empower your people with your training. That's really what it boils down to, is empowering them and building their skill. Invest in your people.

That's my biggest recommendation or thought on the whole process. Obviously, costs does factor into things, but it shouldn't because you're investing in your people. And investing in your people equals better production. 

You can't always put you know, a number to what you're saving or how you're saving, because hopefully, if you do the digital training and digital content, it's touching every area of what you're doing. And it's really hard to put a number on that. 

But you're going to see increases in productivity. You're going to see decreases in waste. You're going to see an improved PM program. You're going to see improved changeover times. And then when you start up from those changeovers or those sanitations, or those different downtime processes, hopefully, you should see you're not struggling with something for 12 hours because somebody forgot to tighten down a bolt. And it's like finding a needle in a haystack, right? 

Invest in your people. That's what it boils down to for me is, it's just an investment in your people. Building their skill and making them feel more comfortable, which hopefully leads to better production runs and hopefully employee retention.

Brian Sallee: Excellent. Well Chad, I appreciate you joining us today. This has been a fantastic episode. Thank you and if anybody wants to reach out to Chad for more tips and tricks, I'm happy to get you connected with Chad. Again, it's Chad Hertlein with General Mills. Thank you, Chad. 

Chad Hertlein: Thank you. I appreciate it. 

Corey Brown

Written by Corey Brown

With a background in technical writing and engineering, Corey leads content and research efforts for Dozuki; providing helpful information and insights for industry professionals.