Quality Concepts for New Employee Training
Hi, I am working on a special project and was looking for some input. When on boarding new (entry-level) quality employees, providing the right on boarding training is important. Obviously hiring a candidate with a quality certification is helpful, but this isn't always possible. Sometimes, you get a candidate with the right attitude and behaviours and a willingness to learn. If you have a candidate with the right "fit", the organization should commit to providing relevant training. What specific training/learning opportunities would you want to provide to ensure they have the right/optimal mix of basic quality concepts training? i.e. 7 quality tools, effective team function, lean concepts, COQ categories, PDCA, FMEA, QFD, DMAIC, etc.
20 Replies
I think it is important to have the new employees observe and be mentored by experienced resources.

I seem to recall reading something about Training, Awareness, and Competence; so the onboarding should address all 3 areas.
That is an interesting question. I would think of several topics:
  • I would center some time in explaining the Why of things. Why do we have a quality system? Why do we focus on customer (internal an external) satisfaction? Why do we have standards? Why do we manage complaints? Why do we have a problem solving approach? Why do we measure things with KPIs? Why do we perform audits? Why do he have management reviews? Why do we encourage continuous improvement? At an entry level answering the why is more relevant than showing the how. You need them to buy in the idea of quality management. Then they will learn how to do it.
  • Soft skills are also fundamental. Things like effective communication, trust development, observation (think of Taiichi Ohno's Circle), taking notes and having a journal is specially useful, public speaking and teamwork. Also Critical Thinking (5 whys, 5w/2h) can help them develop a useful thinking framework to be applied with the quality tools.
  • Regarding quality basics the BoK of the CQIA could be a guideline and then the CQPA. I would give an emphasis to the concept of a Process, Waste, Variability and Standardization, including something like 5s. And then the 7 quality tools and 4 step Problem Solving. Then everything else as required by the position they are occupying.
With one of my clients, we have developed some workshops in which the participants "simulate" a production process. But not in the sense of a mathematical simulation, but rather by living a production line. The build things, use standards, measure things. I have developed the position of production, supervisor, warehouse even the customer. Within that "simulation" they experience the problems related to:
  • The lack of training
  • Poor supervision and leadership
  • The lack of measurements
  • The importance of audits
  • The need to balance quality and productivity
  • The variability of the process
  • The role of waste in the production line
  • Etc.
This workshops provide a hands on approach to some of the concepts and it must be supported by extra learning opportunities within the different improvement and problem solving initiatives and projects. Also On the Job Training in site, including the quality topics is a must.
Typical Production Line Array

The workshops allow them to experience the effects of their actions in different parts of the organization. Each participant is given a role and the activity is handled via "cards" by the facilitator. The cards introduce "real life events" that they have to handle and that affects their quality and productivity flow.

Just some ideas.
Training, Awareness, and Competence. Those are three excellent points Daniel!
Luis, I love the simulation model idea. I also like the CQIA BoK. I was also considering some of the CQT concepts at first. I agree the soft skills are important and I am looking to include those as well. Thanks for your comprehensive response.
Norm Howe
31 Posts
All the responses so far have been excellent. One additional idea, get the production manager involved.
Dear Susanne,
I have done this activity for many years and in many companies. First, and foremost, onboarding must present the organization's cultural imperative for quality - why is it important to fulfill the organization's purpose or reason for being - and how has this been embedded into the organization's culture. This helps to specify the "why" ingredient and should be part of the awareness concept. Requiring this training as part of day #1 in the onboarding process and emphasizing this theme throughout training and development activities should be a core part of the onboarding process design. Next, providing an understanding of the importance of process thinking, waste elimination, and standard work in the context of the job this is to be done and the functional area in which the new employee will work. This aspect of training is best done by those who are experienced in this work and will be co-participants or supervisors of the new employee. Embedded in this type of work should be "on-the-job" indoctrination in the work itself. This is a means to define the "what" ingredient of work while also building an understanding of the value stream, flow of work as well as providing an introduction to co-workers who can coach the employee in how to do the job. As the employee develops an ability to participate as a co-worker, then their development of competence should be planned in collaboration with their supervisor, combining the essential soft skills training (e.g., meeting management, work methods technologies, and those essential "problem-solving" and "continual improvement" tools. Do not fall into the trap of providing an old set of tools that may not be relevant any longer to the specific work process and technology level (e.g., rethink what tools are truly essential. In many cases this will not be the old Q-7 tools). Most importantly, developing an effective and relevant on-boarding process for quality is one of the most critical aspects of the senior quality role. Following a cookie-cutter model based on theory that is over a quarter-century may not serve your organization in this current rapidly changing environment.
Best regards,
I really like the ideas presented in the replies here. Specifically the focus on explaining the 'why' behind quality and focusing on the tools relevant to the position the employee occupies.

I would just add that I appreciate Susan's statement in the original post "If you have a candidate with the right fit, the organization should commit to providing the relevant training." I think this is an admirable attitude in any industry, but is especially relevant in quality where, at least in my limited experience, most potential employees have not received much formal education in the quality field.

Regardless of how much you want the Quality people to know, I am always in favor of putting them to work on every aspect of the business first. One, two weeks on every department shadowing Customer Service, Contracts, Shipping, Receiving, Production of any kind, Purchasing, Human Resources, Safety, heck, even Maintenance and Housekeeping, so they understand the ins-and-outs of the organization.

I have found that different Quality personnel have different approach and not all are created equal. It is only when they bleed the color of your organization when cut (figuratively, of course) is when they will be useful. Having them "live" every aspect will hopefully make them part of it a lot faster.

This approach can also be done to every other position in the company to show new hires the culture and how they can impact the success of the organization. Doing this during the "probationary" period can make you (the organization) and the new hire realize whether they are a good fit or not so no-one can waste time. After that, you can provide they specific training the new hires will need to have to improve your quality and the bottom line.

Sorry, one more thing, train your Quality and other professionals on how to read your financial statements. Teach them accounting and finance so they understand what it takes to run your business.

Hope it helps.
I would add to Luis's excellent list - consider adding real world examples of possible scenarios including ways to handle - discuss why one approach is better than others or why one approach is unacceptable and why.
I would also add in the importance of data integrity, especially in regulated industries. why do we need it, what does it look like, what does it not look like (or what does it look like when we dont have it) What is your role is detecting and preventing lack of quality, lack of data integrity, etc.
How do we do things versus how might you have done them in past. What is our organizations acceptable level of risk, when do we need to escalate are also important concepts.
I am living proof that what Rangel suggested works. Early in my quality career I was hired by a major aviation company. My boss had me spend several days in each of the functions. When I started my quality work I was more effective because I knew the overall company culture and the subculture of each of the departments. Spending time in the financial department was especially helpful. Dr. Juran had it right when he talked about using "the language of money".

Experiencing this indoctrination training continues to help me in my consulting career.

Thanks for your very helpful input, Rangel.

Ron Sedlock
the quality Catalyst
Hi Susan,
I suggest from an onboarding perspective you provide introductory training on your quality culture, "the way we do things around here," to ensure that the new employee understand what is expected of them in your organization. Once the cultural introduction is complete then consider problem solving tools like the seven quality tools, PDCA and even some Lean tools if it fits your culture.
We have provided some of our clients in the lean space, lean simulations (lean mfg., lean office) to introduce their employees to particular lean concepts and to help impart the organization's culture. Other clients have partnered with us to conduct problem solving training as a way to prepare their new and existing employees to contribute to improving the performance of the organization.

Good Luck,
John Ross
10 Posts
HI Susan,
Good question you posted and a lot of great input from the replies. You can easily go down a rabbit hole with all the different information presented, but first you need to ask yourself "why did you hire this person and what is the role they will be fulfilling"? If you lose focus on the role and responsibilities, then you lose the candidates ability to learn and your focus to train. Set your priorities and goals so that you are comfortable with the candidates ability and the candidate is comfortable with their ability to do the job.
Rangel, these are good tips, teaching other skills like finance can certainly help. Thanks so much.
Norm, I agree, Production and Quality need to work in tandem. Good thought.
Greg, thank you for your comprehensive reply. I am reviewing some textbooks with Quality Concept "Basics" and I agree, they need to be part of an effective and relevant on-boarding process for quality. Old tools may just be that, old. Thanks so much.
David. I agree, Luis has provided an excellent list. I love to add real-world examples and definitely, Data integrity is so important. Thanks for making this feed your second post on MyASQ. Welcome!
The language of money :) Great phrase, yes, thanks Ron. Thank you for your response and welcome to MyASQ!
Great comments, thanks Willie. I appreciate the information. Quality culture is so important. Cheers!
John, thanks so much, I love the question, "why did you hire this person and what is the role they will be fulfilling"? Good point. I appreciate the response.
Elba Pilar
7 Posts
Hello Susan,
You have a variety of valuable comments from my colleagues. Besides I would recommend "perseverance", not from your new employees, but yours! Dedicate some specific time to train a week, do not miss it! and the results will come.
Greetings from Mexico