Job aids come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re such an important part of the learning ecosystem that I really need to add “Job Aids” as an element to my periodic table of amazing learning experiences. Job aids are resources that help someone accomplish a task and can be used in lieu of training or as a reminder of something that someone was once trained on.
Traditional job aids that are analog come in the form of handouts, posters or cards that you can have near your work station to remind you about things like the steps in a process, questions to ask as you begin to coach or mentor someone, or how to connect your computer to your company’s A/V system in the conference room.
Databases and computer systems many of us use on a daily basis have built-in help functions (think of the little question mark icon next to certain fields on websites or software you may use) which can be more helpful than more traditional job aids. In-app help functions (basically, electronic job aids) are extremely helpful because they can be found “in the flow of work”, which means you can find them where you need them, when you need them, without needing to stop what you’re doing to look up a function in a technical manual (or on Google or YouTube).
I love finding creative ways job aids are created and used out in the world as I’m going about life. Last weekend I found an example of an analog job aid that could be used in the flow of work and made it almost impossible for an employee to make a mistake.
I was visiting a wine tasting room here in Seattle when I noticed three little dashes on the back of every glass.
I asked the manager what they were for and he said they’re used to determine how much wine should be poured during a tasting (the lowest line), a half-pour and a full pour.
I don’t know much about wine, nor do I know much when it comes to pouring wine, but even I would be able to pour correctly every time, without ever having been trained on how to or how much to pour. This is the type of simple creativity that can help a company’s bottom line by reducing:
- Inventory loss (through over-pouring)
- Stress on the part of the server
- Unnecessary training (no need to take time to train someone on how much to pour under different circumstances)
At some point today, I encourage you to take a look around your work environment and observe the people who you’re supposed to be helping through your training initiatives. Is there an opportunity for an in-the-moment job aid that can help improve performance or reduce errors, re-work, inventory loss, stress, or eliminate unnecessary training?