Reinventing the Wheel at Apex Door Company.
Jim Delaney, president of Apex Door Company, has a problem. No matter how often he tells his employees how to do their jobs, they invariably “decide to do things their way,” as he puts it, and argu- ments ensue between Delaney, the employee, and the employee’s supervisor. One example is in the door-design department. The designers are expected to work with the architects to design doors that meet the specifications. Although it’s not “rocket science,” as Delaney puts it, the designers often make mistakes, such as design- ing in too much steel—a problem that can cost Apex tens of thou- sands of wasted dollars, especially considering the number of doors in, say, a 30-story office tower. The order processing department is another example. Although Jim has a specific, detailed way he wants each order written up, most of the order clerks don’t understand how to use the multipage order form, and they improvise when it comes to a question such as whether to classify a customer as “industrial” or “commercial.” The current training process is as follows. None of the jobs have training manuals per se, although several have somewhat out- of-date job descriptions. The training for new employees is all on the job. Usually, the person leaving the company trains the new person during the 1- or 2-week overlap period, but if there’s no overlap, the new person is trained as well as possible by other employees who have occasionally filled in on the job in the past. The training is basically the same throughout the company—for machinists, secretaries, assemblers, and accounting clerks, for example.
1. What do you think of Apex’s training process? Could it help explain why employees “do things their way,” and if so, how?
2. What role do job descriptions play in training?
3. Explain in detail what you would do to improve the training process at Apex. Make sure to provide specific suggestions.