3 Training Stages in Implementing a Knowledgeable Staff

Creating a solid SOP can lead to faster-trained employees. By structuring your SOPs in terms of value over perception, it can mean new staff can come on and learn fast and have tangible numbers to work from.

For a canning line employee that is just starting, Baxter Brewing’s Merritt Waldron — whose book Quality Labs for Small Brewers: Building a Foundation for Great Beer is now available — shared with Brewer that he has created a program at the brewery to be able to give an employee an SOP manual and be able to go from trainee to trainer in three steps.

“Checklists and SOPs are definitely mostly training aids for me, as well as reference,” Waldron said. “Training is huge. You need someone to be aware of what they’re doing and understand what they’re doing, not just going through the motions to have a successful canning day.

“Because as soon as something goes wrong, if they can’t fix it because they don’t understand how it’s working in the first place. That’s a problem.”

Waldron said he works through the SOP with someone that’s the designated expert on that procedure.

“If that’s our packaging lead person, we ask how to clean it, and they show me how to clean the line,” he said. “I just write down in words what they’re doing. And then writing down all the metrics that they would have to; like 15 minutes here or this temperature, and then making sure that it’s available for people.”

There are three parts of training: Train the trainee; shadow the trainee and train the trainer.

“We don’t really have a timeline for that. Some tasks are harder than others,” Waldron explained. “Usually, when you’re first starting in the brewery, there’s so many new things for people. We’ll show them once or twice. Hopefully, if someone’s pretty quick, they could pick it up in the next week. By the end of their second or third week, they can train the trainer.”

In that final step, Waldron said a trainee can have the SOP in hand, but they have to understand why they’re doing each step.

“It’s a good crutch for them to lean on,” he said. “And if you train with the SOP, they’re more likely to use it when they don’t know something. They know that it’s written down.”

Waldron said he has seen lots of success with the method both at Baxter and when he worked at Rising Tide.

Photo courtesy Champion Brewing

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