THE PEOPLE FACTOR IN MANUFACTURING COMPANIES

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1 THE PEOPLE FACTOR IN MANUFACTURING COMPANIES The people factor in manufacturing companies has a great impact on the bottom line. The choice is not whether or not management should pay attention to this, but when and how to do so. For companies seeking to use the people factor as a lever in improving performance and stimulating sustainable organizational growth, there are four areas of opportunity: 1. Aligning Leadership Layers 2. Strengthening the Organization Horizontally 3. Improving Collaboration in Work Processes 4. Developing Safety Leadership as an Example of Behavioral Change Copyright INTC P 1 / 6

2 1. ALIGNING LEADERSHIP LAYERS People need to take more ownership and feel more accountable for company performance. We hear from leaders at the top of organizations, who are frustrated because people do not seem to pick up on their vision. Despite all their efforts at communication, they see neither progress nor results. They cannot understand people s resistance. It is difficult to keep staff motivated. But what can we do? Middle managers explain and sell expectations to those in the field. They want to lead their teams, and deliver results for top management. Yet, they feel squeezed and put a great deal of effort into conflict avoidance. They say our opinion counts but indirectly they just keep on imposing their decisions. People at lower leadership levels do not understand why managers cannot see their reality. They know what does and does not work in the field. If they are not listened to, they become resistant and disconnect from management. Aligning leadership layers means translating organizational purpose, vision, and strategy into meaningful messages for each layer of the organization. It requires engaging in dialogue between the layers. It is no surprise that the level of alignment and collaboration between leadership layers has a major impact on atmosphere, stress levels, and productivity. The quality of meeting platforms serves as a good measure. Is communication one way or two way? Are participants actively involved or switching off? When participants leave the room, do they feel they have achieved results or wasted their time? Do these meeting platforms still serve the agenda? Is the agenda still valid? Improving alignment and connection between leadership levels means working on the quality of interactions. Copyright INTC P 2 / 6

3 2. STRENGTHENING THE ORGANIZATION HORIZONTALLY The strength of the horizontal layers gives a good indication of the strength of the company: a management committee that is on the same page regarding vision and strategy; middle managers who bring the general interest and department objectives into line; first line supervisors who implement strategies and address the needs of people in the field. Strong horizontal layers in the company may be built more rapidly and achieved in the short term. This requires attention and guidance because it does not come naturally. Example: most companies state that their first line supervisors form a crucial leadership layer. Yet how much effort is put into building that layer? Do supervisors have the chance to grow as a team, to share, and to support each other? Developing them as a group means developing each one as a supervisor so that they become a stronger management ally. Bonding within a company s horizontal structure is just as important as vertical alignment. A team of good colleagues boosts individual performance. Connecting people in similar roles will always pay off. Peers facing similar challenges learn from each other and help each other grow. They come together to share their experiences, collectively reflect on their professional conduct, coach and advise each other on how to deal with complex situations or unsatisfactory results. Copyright INTC P 3 / 6

4 3. IMPROVING COLLABORATION IN WORK PROCESSES Most organizations are matrix structures. Some work processes will be contained in one department, but most of the main processes bring different functions together in a single flow. How effective must collaboration be to achieve an efficient general work flow? Example: the process department creates urgent break-in jobs for the maintenance department, because it does not trust maintenance to plan jobs and solve problems on time. This leads to so many break-in jobs for maintenance that good planning is jeopardized and preventive maintenance is delayed. Empowering people to improve their work processes together will increase their sense of purpose and reduce victim mindset behaviors. This will stimulate collaboration across functions and reduce waste along the endto-end work process. Imagine a workshop where functional representatives come together to devise the steps in the end-to-end process. People will gain insights, share frustrations, understand the concerns and interests of others, seek solutions and align over how to make processes more effective and efficient. Improving Collaboration in Work Processes enables people to understand their contributions to the bigger picture and to fulfill their role in the general interest of the company. Copyright INTC P 4 / 6

5 4. DEVELOPING SAFETY LEADERSHIP as an example of Behavioral Change In a manufacturing environment people are expected to behave on the basis of appropriate awareness of every action s potential risks. Often, however, people act on the basis of perceived risk, balancing it against their time and workload constraints, their self-confidence and their experience. We want safety systems to support risk awareness and safe behavior. Instead, they are often seen as tick the box obligations. We want people to report near misses but they shy away from this to avoid putting themselves in the spotlight, or being subject to management investigation. Safety leadership is about leading people in such a way that they co-own their safety systems, raise their awareness of potential risks, act safely at all times, and help the plant become a safer place. Good systems and clear procedures are crucial in safety performance, but only the people factor can make them work effectively. What counts in safety leadership, counts in all behavioral change efforts: People want to understand and discuss the case for action, the why. People want to commit when their concerns are heard and addressed People are open to feedback if it is delivered constructively People need to see that everyone is walking the talk People accept monitoring and consequence management systems if they are used fairly The organization must develop the know-how, and leaders develop the competencies, to approach behavioral change as something done with people, rather than to people. Copyright INTC P 5 / 6

6 Collaboration in work Strong Processes Horizontal Layers Aligned Leadership Levels Culture of Safety Leadership INTC has a wealth of know-how and experience to support companies successfully in these key areas of the people factor, and help them to achieve sustainable results. We support our clients in aligning their organizations towards a common purpose, shared values, mission, vision, culture, direction for change, and strategy implementation; we work top down and bottom up to connect each layer of the organization by facilitating effective conversations, collaboration, and action. As well as process facilitation, we design and deliver training programs for competency development in the following areas: Train the trainer Leadership fundamentals Feedback and difficult conversations Equality in 2 way communication Responsibility mindset Leading people through change Working effectively as a team Meeting and decision making skills Conflict mediation Leader as Coach Leader as Facilitator Co-development/Intervision Innovation INTC Goursolas St Jory de chalais Kris De Ridder: Wim Vander Elst : Copyright INTC P 6 / 6

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