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What to do when Employees are not following Instructions

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#11
The ISO 9001:2008 (6.2.2(d) standard asks us to ensure employees are aware of the relevance and importance of their activities and how they contribute to the achievement of the quality objectives. Are they? Do they realize the effect of skipping a step? If so, do they care?
 

harry

Super Moderator
#12
This usually happens when the procedure is not streamlined.
People , like water, will follow the path of least resistance.
Our goal is to make sure that the path of least resistance is the 'right way'.
Find out why the step was skipped and see if there is another way to incorporate it. Maybe later in the process where it 'fits better', or maybe there are redundant actions going on.
Asking these people to help redesign the process steps makes them invested in outcome, and more likely to produce a better and more efficient process.
It is natural for one's blood to boil in such a situation but common sense has to take over and the above is what I would recommend too. As people become familiar with a process, they can often find better alternatives, shortcuts, etc as an improvement. In fact if you find a procedure that has not been updated for umpteen years, it could be an indication of people following procedures and doing paperwork just for the sake of continued certification.
 
#13
When two senior engineers do not follow procedures there must be some good reason for it (at least in their eyes) and you need to find that out before taking action. If you don't then it is unlikely that the situation improves or your actions may even backfire...
Some things to consider: Maybe the step does not add value or people are not aware of how it does (lot of engineers e.g. do not understand the value of good documentation or how some things can help in an audit situation). Maybe they were under pressure from management to get things done faster and therefore tried to cut corners. And maybe there is a real technical reason for it why it does not make sense in some cases. I was once asked by regulatory to put numbers to a change request to better define the change proposal and when I did they said this is not exact enough. However the way they wanted me to put it did not fit to that particular process and would have pretended an accuracy that just was not there...
 
#14
Thank you to all for the words of advice. In the case I speak of, the senior engineers decided to create a new router (print), by altering an old one and putting a different customer p/n on it. Thus the differences between the two prints were, one was customer ABC with a dimension of 5.22 and the other was customer DCE with a dimension of 5.25, as an example.
The old customer print (ABC) should have been archived when the new one was created and they know this, but they figured they would just let it go into obsolete status from lack of orders.
Thus, our engineers knew the right process steps to take and they even helped in deciding those steps, so for them to ignore the steps, it just doesn't make sense... however this seems to be a common occurrence with them both. Both engineers have been with the company since it started in the 70's, therefore they were trained by the owner of the company as well as "Self Taught."
Again, thanks for the advice and I will look to improve upon our processes with the input provided.
 

RoxaneB

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#15
When it discovered that individuals are not following a process, it typically leads back to one of two system-related issues (because we don't want to blame people, right ;) ). For example:

Standardization
  • Are the correct critical steps documented?
  • Are these steps in the correct sequence and flow?
  • Is the documented process easy to read, communicate, understand and follow?
  • Does the standard state what could possibly occur if the critical steps are not followed and what the appropriate countermeasures are?
  • Is this a one-time occurrence or a repetitive issue systematic of a potential opportunity within the standard process?

Training
  • Is complete retraining required or only on a specific aspect of a process?
  • What is the best way to conduct this training?
  • What message are we trying to send with this training?
  • Does the message include the impacts of following the process?
  • Does the message include the impacts of NOT following the process?
  • Is this a one-time occurrence or a repetitive issue systematic of a potential opportunity within the standard process?

The questions above are not only the ones you can ask, but are simply ideas for you to consider in terms of addressing the situation. Essentially, you can either adapt the standard process or you can retrain.

This is working with the presumption that the process documents the critical, value-added activities of the process. Only your organization can determine if the steps the engineers took instead of following the procedure were detrimental to the desired results.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#17
Thank you to all for the words of advice. In the case I speak of, the senior engineers decided to create a new router (print), by altering an old one and putting a different customer p/n on it. Thus the differences between the two prints were, one was customer ABC with a dimension of 5.22 and the other was customer DCE with a dimension of 5.25, as an example.
The old customer print (ABC) should have been archived when the new one was created and they know this, but they figured they would just let it go into obsolete status from lack of orders.
Thus, our engineers knew the right process steps to take and they even helped in deciding those steps, so for them to ignore the steps, it just doesn't make sense... however this seems to be a common occurrence with them both. Both engineers have been with the company since it started in the 70's, therefore they were trained by the owner of the company as well as "Self Taught."
Again, thanks for the advice and I will look to improve upon our processes with the input provided.
This looks like a document control matter because the engineers have repurposed an old document that is used to tell people what to do. That means the document should be controlled.

I often repurpose old documents, but doing that requires a careful review before publishing - like any document update. Did they follow the document control process? The thing could be printed out (I don't know about you, but I seem to find errors best on a printed version) and reviewed by the engineering manager or a peer, then sent on to the document control admin for processing.

So if approaching the issue, I would consider doing so as an invitation to submit their new documents for review. Engineers tend to be very smart but have relatively little mental bandwidth for QMS niceties so I would be nice when making this offer; but this sort of thing is not negotiable, protocols need to be followed.

I hope this helps!
 
#18
I've yet to encounter a situation where what an engineer writes can be followed...

It not a case of employees not following instructions, or training or anything like that. It's a basic flaw in having engineers create instructions because "they understood it when they wrote it"! Even as recently as 2013, my son spent a considerable amount of time, completely reworking instructions which he'd been given by an engineer who'd never assembled the product, no pictures, no (production) logic to the sequence, or identification of critical (to assembly) steps etc and so on. Needless to say, there were pages and pages of writing.

My son, once again, proved that if you give the task to someone who knows what they're doing, the instruction gets written a lot closer to what an employee can follow. His (experienced) assembly operator has no trouble doing the (new to him) job and congratulated him on his work with rewriting the instructions and training on how to do the job. Not bad for a 23 year old, with no degree!

Added in edit: Unsurprisingly, there was also a considerable reduction in the quantity of pages too!
 
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#19
My son, once again, proved that if you give the task to someone who knows what they're doing, the instruction gets written a lot closer to what an employee can follow. His (experienced) assembly operator has no trouble doing the (new to him) job and congratulated him on his work with rewriting the instructions and training on how to do the job. Not bad for a 23 year old, with no degree!
Not bad at all, and it brings us right back to the matter of streamlining and simplifying instructions. :applause:
 
G

gstewart

#20
In an ideal world you try to mistake proof all your systems.
Ie one possible system. you open the old print and re-write it, its impossible to over-write it, and you can only save it in a "for review" file. Its then a reviewers job to check and issue the new print. ( not a content review, a system review ).

As soon as you rely on people to remember to do something, or to do something extra when they are in a hurry, forget about them always getting it correct unless they are forced.
 


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