Motivation, Workplace

What can I do to keep my team together?

These days the demand for candidates for manufacturing jobs is not enough for the demand.  Lose experience is critical not only for continuous improvement but for the plant successful operation.  Many experienced employees are starting to retire, therefore retention is more important than ever, whatever happen during their first ninety days can determine how long they stay.  What we have to do to keep our team minds away from thinking about getting a new job?  A good pay rate and benefits are important but they are not everything.

Employees are looking for a work place where they are treated with respect, their ideas and needs matter and they have the tools they need to be able to accomplish their work successfully without safety issues or hassles.  New hires are mostly millennial, what are they looking for on their work place?  They want to have a meaningful job, a place where they can make the difference.  They also want to grow, to learn, to feel that other people care about them:  their peers, a mentor, somebody who helps and advice not just train them on how to do their job.   They would like companies that commit to their development the same way they will commit to the company’s future.

The common thing between them is that they want to feel good, respected and that their leaders care about them.  People appreciate to work in a positive environment where they feel trusted and listened.  In a respectful work environment, employees feel trust to talk with the supervisor about things on their personal lives that affect their work performance.  This trust does not appear out of the blue, needs to be built over time.  When somebody from the team is struggling, let’s remember them that all of us has bad times, encourage them to overcome those issues, do not try to diminish them but rather listened and let them the chance to vent.  Treat employees like people, not a commodity.

Training during on boarding is a great chance to start showing that you care about new hires and employees in general.  For some high skill, critical positions it is very easy for new hires to feel overwhelmed because there is too much to learn on a short period of time.  High levels of stress can have a negative impact on performance.  This is a perfect time to encourage communication not just about procedures and policies but about how they feel as human beings.

While the supervisor have the burden on making the employee feels appreciated on his/her new job, the manager plays an important role also.  Just a small chat with new employees to say hello and welcome them to the team is enough to establish a relationship.  Do not stop there, during the next couple of days or weeks talk with them again, this time ask how they feel, what they need, make clear what the job priorities are but also clarify that nobody expect them to know everything, asking questions is fine.  Encourage them to make questions, to clarify doubts, to talk with their supervisors about their concerns and if that does not work, then to feel free to talk with you.  There is no guarantee that this will incline the scale towards stay in the company vs. leaving but for sure can help to keep the team together.

 

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Continuous Improvement

I know you are busy, are you productive?

While reviewing the month expenses, I noticed that the maintenance and repair account was already over budget. My instinct is to check the details of the account and see where exactly we spend all that money. I click on the right option, but I did not get the information I needed, why? Because we spend millions of dollars on an enterprise resource planning software and then spend a couple of thousands to buy a computerized maintenance management system to manage all maintenance expenses.

This is not the only case of redundancy on computerized systems or applications that we have.  We had at least another four different applications that we used instead of that very powerful, very expensive enterprise resource planning software.  The result is digital clutter, and confusion and of course a lot of frustration.

Every time you need information or need to do something, the first question is, where? what application I need to use?  You will think that the answer to this question is intuitive, that you don’t need to think about it but whoever work ten plus hours a day, know that at some point you are so tired you don’t even remember what you meant to do, much less how to do it.  To be able to reach out those applications faster, we save shortcuts on our desktop.  Now we have so many of those icons on the desktop that your brain become as slow as your computer trying to find out the one you need out of all that clutter.  With multiple programs, it comes multiple user names and passwords which of course you never remember which one is the right one for each application.

We are busy the entire day, are we productive? We need to find ways to remove all that clutter and focus on the important things.  Maybe there is not much that we can do to convince our corporate office to maximize the use of a couple of applications and get rid of others but definitely there are a lot of things that we can do to deal with our self-inflicted clutter.  In the next posts I will discuss what we can do to deal with digital clutter and other kinds of clutter in our office.

 

Continuous Improvement

Do you care?

When top leaders don’t care, why employees will?  My first couple of weeks on a new job are always dedicated to learn about the culture, processes and identify the opportunities and challenges of the place.  Every business unit has its own KPI’s and regardless how good or not, the department is performing against those KPI’s always is critical to have the people support to be able to improve.  People will not be engaged with any improvement process or support any changes if they are not treated with respect and see honest desire to change the status quo, not just “make the numbers”.

Sometimes, you don’t even need to be a problem solving expert to get better results.  What you need is to be consistent with your message, you need to talk the talk but more importantly walk the talk.  If you are enforcing housekeeping rules or clean as you go mentality but you walk over trash and don’t even say something to somebody to clean it up, you are delivering a contradictory message.  A better message will be if you pick it up yourself or help the people who will come to do it.

When you stop to say hi to your operators, try to know them and talk not just about what they are doing but about how they are doing it and how the feel, you show them that you care about the human being.  If you approach them for positive enforcement and not just to say that they can do something different they will listen every time.

If you are consistent with your message and how you act, your team will learn to do the same, you will lead them by example.  If you show that you care, they will care.  The contrary is also true, if you don’t care about what is going on, they will not care either.  You want to change attitudes and behaviors? start with your own, show your commitment and priorities and your team will follow you.