From “Burned” to “Juiced”


A manufacturer had hired 24 employees from a company which had laid them off.

Most had been with that company for a long time and had trained newer co-workers (who weren’t laid off).

These 24 people were still feeling “burned” from their experience when their new boss asked them to cross-train each other. The goal was to become more flexible with short-turnaround customer orders.
The workers found every reason in the book not to teach co-workers what they knew:
   “I don’t have time.”
   “I can do it better than him.”
   “She’ll mess it up and I’ll have to fix it later.” 
Later, during a workshop, they discussed the pros and cons of cross-training (to the company’s health and to their own job security). They completed several “teach someone a task you’re good at” activities during the workshop and received positive comments from co-workers about the skills they shared
They made these activities a more interesting and fun experience by creating a poster to track the number of tasks they taught each other, each jotting down the task next to the learners’ and teachers’ names.
Once each week, they had a five-minute huddle around the poster and reviewed new additions to the poster (this is when the “trainer” and the “trainee” received positive recognition.
One person began carrying colored “gems” in his pocket, and gave one to each buddy who mastered the task being taught. This caught on, and soon everyone was carrying marbles or gems. They decided to put them in a jar because the gems were getting heavy in their pockets, and so they could see the gems as they filled the jar.
Within four weeks, all the cross-training had been completed by the initiative of the employees; the supervisor spending only five minutes each week reviewing their added trained tasks.
Positive reinforcement transformed this "I don’t want to get burned" task to "let me teach you."
Just like magic.