If you’re in manufacturing, you probably rely heavily on time-tested processes. You may be reluctant to make changes. But the time for siloed, top-down work culture is over. Today, a high-performance manufacturing culture relies on flexibility, collaboration, and rapid iteration. Here are the top characteristics your company needs to adopt.
Modern manufacturing culture relies on teamwork. That means not only connecting people from different departments, but also those who work in different areas of the same department. Put together teams of people with wildly different areas of specialization. Then have them run practice scenarios. These can be silly, hands-on games like building something out of random materials. The point is to teach everyone to work together and problem-solve based on their collective skills and knowledge.
Get your workers actively involved in improving your processes. Hold weekly strategy meetings so different teams can share their concerns and have everyone brainstorm solutions. Over time, your employees will learn to speak up, frame problems, and work together to fix them.
Workers want to feel both trusted and valued. One of the best ways to tear down siloes is to put power in the hands of your employees. Allow manufacturing techs to suggest changes to design documents. Send designers onto the floor to learn how their drawings actually come to life. Once you start empowering your employees, you open the door to collaboration and better problem-solving.
Whenever possible, focus on promoting from within rather than bringing on outside managers. A key step in this process is cross-training. Regularly move your manufacturing employees around the floor. This gives them a broader knowledge of the entire process. Also offer job shadowing opportunities in other departments. The more they grow and learn, the more loyalty your workers will feel, and the more valuable they will be to you.
Two-way communication is key to the new manufacturing culture. Start on Day One by setting up individual new hire meetings with members of your executive team. Hold daily standup meetings, put out newsletters, and send plenty of emails. Keep your workers up to date on company performance metrics, new product lines, and even the organization’s financial health. Always leave plenty of time for questions and answer them as openly and honestly as possible. Provide multiple ways for workers to give feedback, and act on their concerns in a timely manner.
The new manufacturing culture is a big shift for many companies. But it will lead to more flexibility, better employee loyalty, and ultimately a healthier bottom line!
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