Job Instruction (JI)

What Is Job Instruction?

Job Instruction (JI) trains leaders how to instruct.  Teaching people new tasks is not a skill we are born with; only through practice can we master it.  JI is the program that uses a 4-step method for training that develops in the leader the skill of instructing. Many organizations lead with JI since it can have an immediate impact on productivity by quickly capturing and training the team on the one best way of doing a job.  The initial JI training consists of five 2-hour sessions that present and practice the techniques of the 4-step method.  JI has three critical components:

  1. 4-Step JI Method of Instruction – Used to conduct the actual training of individuals
  2. Job Breakdown – Used to collect the important steps, key points and reasons used in the 4-Step training method
  3. Time Table for Training – Used to identify, prioritize and schedule the training necessary for productivity improvement

The JI 4-Step Instruction Method

How to Instruct

Step 1 – Prepare the Worker

  • Put the person at ease
  • State the job
  • Find out what the person already knows
  • Get the person interest in learning the job
  • Put the person in correct position

Step 2 – Present the Operation

  • Tell, show and illustrate – one IMPORTANT STEP at a time
  • Stress each KEY POINT and its reason

Instruct clearly, completely, patiently giving no more than they can master at one time.

Step 3 – Try Out Performance

  • Have the person do the job – correct errors
  • Have the person do the job – explain key points and reasons

Make sure they understand. Continue until you know they know.

Step 4 – Follow Up

  • Put on own
  • Who to go to for help
  • Check frequently
  • Encourage questions
  • Taper off coaching

If the learner hasn’t learned, the instructor hasn’t taught.

All TWI programs have four steps.  JI’s four steps are outlined on the JI Card – How to Instruct side.  The instructor follows the steps and subheadings on the card as he teaches the team member how to do the job.  In the first step he prepares the worker for the training.  You can see that Step 1 gets the person into the proper mental and physical position which is so critical for adult learning.  In Step 2 the instructor presents the operation.  The first time demonstrating the job he tells, shows and illustrates one important step at a time.  The next time through he adds to key points and the reasons for the key points.  For more complex tasks, he might repeat it again until he feels the learner has comprehended the key points and reasons.  The key is to clearly, completely, and patiently give the information, but no more than they can master at one time.

In Step 3 – Try-out  Performance – the learner performs the task.  The first time performing the job, the learner does the job while the instructor corrects for errors.  The learner then does it a second time explaining the key points for each step along with the reasons for the key points.  In this step it is critical that the instructor makes sure he knows the learner knows the job.  The learner should continue performing the job until the instructor is confident the learner can perform the job flawlessly.  Speed can be gained through practice on their own.  Research has shown that retention of knowledge exceeds 90% when a person can explain what he is doing while completing a task.

Step 4 – Follow Up – is where the instructor ensures that the learner has a support system in place as they go out to do the task on their own.  Actions in Step 4 ensure that the learner will not be left to sink or swim on the job.    The leader checks on the person, lets them know who to see with questions in his absence, and encourages questions.  Step 4 ensures the success of the learner for the last statement on the card says, “If the learner hasn’t learned, the instructor hasn’t taught.”  Success of the instructor is based on success of the learner on the job.

The Job Breakdown

A Job Breakdown is created before instruction is attempted.  The instructor goes to the where the job is being done and captures  the important steps, and the key points and reasons for each key point on a Job Breakdown Form.  An important step is any activity that advances the work.  Key points are any items that could make or break the job, injure the team member, or make the work easier to do.  Capturing the reasons for the key points and using them in the instruction helps the learner remember the key points.  The instructor also writes down all the necessary parts, tools and materials needed to perform the job.  The Job Breakdown is the tool for the instructor to use in the 4-step instruction so nothing is forgotten or left out.

The Time Table for Training

The time table for training is the most critical component for successfully implementing the JI 4-step method of instruction.  The leader captures his area’s required tasks on the time table.  After identifying the critical tasks, he identifies the current skill level on each task for each of his team members.  He then can identify any urgent training needs due to employee work performance or turnover, or from schedule compliance or changes.  The leader can then determine who to train on what task by what date, prioritizing his training needs and ensure proper leveling of the training load.

Getting Ready to Instruct

How to get ready to instruct is on the opposite of the JI card.  The four main items help the train prepare for the training.  Several of the items we have described previously.  Now we’ll show how they together, they ensure that your training will be effective and efficient.

Get Ready to Instruct
  • Make a Time Table for Training
    • Who to train on which job by what date
  • Break Down the Job
    • List Important Steps
    • Pick out key points and their reasons
    • Safety is always a key point
  • Get Everything Ready
    • The right equipment, materials, and supplies
  • Arrange the Work Area

The timetable for training is the first requirement for getting ready to instruct.  By capturing the critical tasks, identifying the urgent training needs, and then, creating a schedule for training on the timetable, the leader has a plan to drive training.  Often without such a plan, training is unfocused or general, or the effort may lose energy.  The timetable prevents that driving training with a focus on improvement in results.

As part of the preparation for training, job breakdowns must be done.  The timetable for training prioritizes the sequence and timing required to ensure that breakdowns are complete before training on the specific task is done.  Breakdowns should be done just in time for the training because you won’t know how well you broke down the job until you try to teach somebody using it.  If they quickly learn the task, you must have had a good break down.  If they struggle, it may be that you missed an important step or key point.  You will also find that the breakdown process often finds many small improvements that can be incorporated right into the process as the breakdown is being made.  After gaining consensus on the ‘one best way’, you have a tool to train everyone to the standard.

The last two points address the training site.  You should have all the necessary materials, equipment and supplies needed to train the task.  Those items can be listed on the job breakdown and are critical to success.  Forgetting things or not having the correct items only detracts from the effectiveness of the training.  The area should be arranged correctly, also.  A messy training site, again, will detract from the effectiveness of the training.

Following the Get Ready to Instruct points and using the 4-Step JI method to conduct the training is a proven method for effective development of skill on the job.  It can be applied on the manufacturing floor, in the service industries or in the office – anywhere repetitive tasks are required of people.  JI is so powerful because it supports the way adults learn.  Going through the important steps, and then adding the key points and reasons supports the concept of “chunking.”  By allowing for practicing of the skill before releasing to the job, learners can develop self-confidence in their abilities.  And requiring the learner to repeat the important steps, key points and reasons reinforces the learning in the adult.  Research has shown people retain 90% of what they’ve learned if they can perform and explain the task at the same time.  Using the Job Instruction program in your facility can have an immediate and significant improvement on the performance of your work force.

Benefits of JI

Below are some of the benefits that users of JI have enjoyed across all sectors – manufacturing, services, and administrative environments.  Your organization can enjoy these benefits, too.

  • A well-trained workforce on your specific tasks and processes
  • Shortened training curve
  • Documentation of  the institutional knowledge or “tricks of the trade” for each critical tasks
  • Elimination/reduction of quality errors, rework and scrap due to poor or untrained people
  • Flexibility in the workforce to due multiple jobs
  • Confident leaders and trainers in your workforce
  • Involvement of experienced team members in developing new employees
  • Training new team members or experienced team members on new jobs can become a self-sustaining process

View a complete list of benefits ->

Companies Currently Using JI

Many companies are currently using JI in the US, especially the transplants from Japan, who never stopped using JI.  An entire book, Toyota Talent, is dedicated to the JI process at Toyota.  Below is a list of some of the companies who currently use JI in the training of their people.

  • Basic American Foods
  • Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Company
  • IBM
  • Raytheon
  • Toyota
  • Trane
  • Virginia Mason Medical Center