The Number Twelve Motivator – “In the last year I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow”

Continuous Improvement applies as much to people as it does to organisations. Yet many organisations fail to understand this and to act on it. As a result, people tend to under-perform and hence the organisations they work for also tend to under-perform.

Effective Leaders understand how to get more from their people. Almost always, they challenge people to do better. And critically, they provide people with the right training, coaching, and support to achive those challenges.

Here are just a few of the many, many ways to help people to learn and grow:

Best Practice: providing opportunities to see what good looks like – perhaps in a completely different industry, sector or environment.

Peer learning: providing opportunities to work alongside colleagues from other departments or organisations

Secondment: typically a short-term transfer to another department or organisation. Maybe a one-year sabbatical?

Delegation: often a simple but very effective way to develop employees. Just make sure that you pass on some of the good stuff, not just the drudge work!

Training and Coaching: often, one of the best wayw to really understand something is to teach it to others.

Projects: typically, important long-term activities, often “above and beyond” the day job. Great for team-building too!

Just a few examples but not only do these approaches help to motivate the individual concerned, they can also provide huge benefits for the employee’s colleagues, for their boss and for their organisation. Try it!

… and if you’d like some help in developing your employees – and perhaps to create yuor own learning organisation – please contact Andrew.Nicholson@ImproveMyFactory.com.

Housekeeping or 5S – which one is it?

Maybe it’s just me but I’m regularly disappointed when people who should know better confuse the two. So here’s my little rant:

Unless you work in a very well-run hotel, please don’t pretend that “Housekeeping” is anything like 5S – it isn’t!

And if you’re doing 5S properly please don’t undermine it by calling it Housekeeping!

At worst, Housekeeping is a one-off tidy-up. At best it’s a standardised regular tidy-up that gets checked. Don’t get me wrong – it can be very effective and in some environments it might be all that’s needed.

5S on the other hand (sometimes also called 5C or CANDO) is a disciplined, systematic approach to workplace organisation. It uses simple visual management to

  • increase efficiency
  • minimise wasted time and effort
  • encourage team-work
  • establish “One Best Way”
  • instil discipline
  • continuously improve

So here’s a little challenge for you – have a close look at your business and each workplace within it, and then

  • if you’re at an early stage, decide if basic Housekeeping is all that you need (being tidy and looking good), or if you need to invest time and effort to reap the full benefits of 5S
  • if you think you’re already doing 5S, take an honest look at the list above and check how many of those benefits you’re currently achieving. If there are any gaps, maybe it’s time to reinvigorate your approach to 5S and raise your game

And if you’d like some advice, training and hands-on help to implement and sustain 5S, please contact Andrew.Nicholson@ImproveMyFactory.com or call (UK) 01325 328855.

The Number Six Motivator – “There is someone at work who encourages my development”

Take an active interest in helping your employees to develop – you’ll boost their skills and their motivation!

Most of us like to feel that we’re making some progress in our lives and our careers. We want to keep our minds active and we want to believe that tomorrow we’ll be more knowledgeable, more skilled or more adept than we are today. And most of us feel happier when we’ve got something to aim for – “We feel happy to the extent that we are in pursuit of worthy goals”…

Ultimately we’re each responsible for our own career progression and development but it can be difficult to do it all on our own. And that’s particularly true if we’re not sure what skills we might need in the future.

Larger organisations may have HR staff with active “talent management programmes” who provide career counselling, well-planned training and development opportunities, and the like. But for smaller organisations there’s often very little help or it falls to the employee’s immediate supervisor or manager and often is low on their list of priorities.

An alternative approach is to provide access to a mentor or “career buddy” elsewhere in the organisation – ideally a more experienced manager that the employee doesn’t directly report to.  They will have an idea of the roles that are likely to be required in the future, and can guide their mentees towards how best to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to fill those roles. It’s also a great way of helping more experienced staff find new ways to make use of that experience. Try it!

… and if you want effective, bespoke training and development for your manufacturing employees, contact Andrew.Nicholson@ImproveMyFactory.com

 

The Number Three Motivator – “At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day”

Most of us have experienced the enjoyment of doing easily something that we’re good at. And most of us know how frustrating it can be to keep on trying things that we struggle to do well or to do at all. But from a management point of view, we often want people to be flexible / multi-skilled, and we often want people to learn new skills. So how can we achive these objectives and still keep people motivated? Here are some thoughts:

Allow for the “learning curve”. When we learn we often take a while to get the hang of a new skill, and sometimes we make mistakes along the way. Managers and leaders need to make reasonable allowances for this – provide extra time and try to correct or prevent errors as quickly as possible. We also need to make sure that learners adopt the “One Best Way” and not pick up bad habits from other employees.

Catch people doing things right! Look for opportunities to give positive feedback, rather than only focusing on what needs to be done better. Try to “sandwich” each slice of negative feedback between at least two “slices” of positive feedback.

We often focus on people’s weaknesses / things that they find difficult, and we try to get them to do these things better. But don’t neglect the opportunity to help people improve the things that they’re already good at. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to go from “good” to “outstanding” than it is from “acceptable” to “good”.

Make learning fun – create some friendly competition, publish a league table, recognise and reward improvements, get your most epxerienced folk to run some “this is what effortless skill looks like” demos.

Be honest, keep it fair and lead by example. Balance the easy tasks and the difficult tasks, and spread them out  fairly. Make clear that we all have to do things that we don’t like or that we struggle with, and show people that that’s what you do every day, because even you are not quite perfect yet!

New Team Leader? Want to be liked? Get yourself a dog!

One of the hardest career steps that many of us take is the very first – becoming a Team Leader or First Line Manager. One day we’re happily part of the team, next day we’re leading it.

Without the right training and support it can be a tough place to be. Because we lack knowledge, skills and direction we often veer off into one of two directions – “Nasty” or “Nice”:

NICE: Some of us are keen to remain friends with the team members so we try a little too hard, maybe not put too much pressure on getting things done, maybe turn a blind eye to some of those things that we were doing yesterday.

Result: team members may like us but we’re seen as an easy touch, maybe a “pushover”. Some folk take advantage of us so we lose respect and it becomes harder to get the job done.

NASTY: Some of us go the other way – “I’m the boss now – no more mister / ms nice guy!” We stamp out all of those little perks, cheats and short-cuts that we were doing yesterday.

Result: team members see us as unreasonable, a “dictator”. Some folk actively work against us so we lose respect and it becomes harder to get the job done.

For me, one of the hardest lessons to learn – and one that I tell every new Team Leader or Manager – is this: “Don’t expect to be liked!”. Hence my second piece of advice – “If you want to be liked, get yourself a dog!”

What you can – and should – expect is to earn the respect of those that you work with. To become a good Team Leader you need to understand what’s going on here, and what to do about it.

Let’s look at two aspects of how we manage the team –

  1. Challenge – how much do we expect from team members?
  2. Support – how much help do we give them?

In the first example. we’re all support and no challenge so we’re an easy touch.

In the second example we’re all challenge and no support so we’re a dictator.

But we don’t have to choose between the two – it’s not an “either / or” choice.

What we need to do is both – always challenge people to be the best that they can be, and at the same time help them achieve their goals.

Result: better outcomes, happy team and well-respected, effective Team Leader! … and your dog will still love you just the same 🙂

Andrew Nicholson is Managing Director of ImproveMyFactory.com, and regularly coaches Team Leaders and Lean Leaders to achieve more than they thought possible.

New Team Leader? Get yourself a dog!

Image

One of the hardest career steps that many of us take is the very first – becoming a Team Leader. One day we’re happily part of the team, next day we’re leading it.

Without the right training and support it can be a tough place to be. Because we lack knowledge, skills and direction we often veer off into one of two directions:

Some of us are keen to remain friends with the team members so we try a little too hard, maybe not put too much pressure on getting things done, maybe turn a blind eye to some of those things that we were doing yesterday.

Result: team members may like us but we’re seen as an easy touch, maybe a “pushover”. Some folk take advantage of us so we lose respect and it becomes harder to get the job done.

Some of us go the other way – “I’m the boss now – no more mister / ms nice guy!” We stamp out all of those little perks, cheats and short-cuts that we were doing yesterday.

Result: team members see us as unreasonable, a “dictator”. Some folk actively work against us so we lose respect and it becomes harder to get the job done.

For me, one of the hardest lessons to learn – and one that I tell every new Team Leader or Manager – is this: “Don’t expect to be liked!”. Hence my second piece of advice – “If you want to be liked, get yourself a dog!”

What you can – and should – expect is to earn the respect of those that you work with. To become a good Team Leader you need to understand what’s going on here, and what to do about it.

Let’s look at two aspects of how we manage the team –

Challenge – how much do we expect from team members?
Support – how much help do we give them?
In the first example. we’re all support and no challenge so we’re an easy touch.

In the second example we’re all challenge and no support so we’re a dictator.

But we don’t have to choose between the two – it’s not an “either / or” choice.

What we need to do is both – always challenge people to be the best that they can be, and at the same time help them achieve their goals.

Result: better outcomes, happy team and well-respected, effective Team Leader! … and your dog will still love you just the same 🙂

Jack Russell Terrier (10 months old)

Manufacturers must invest now to earn their place in “Industry 4.0”

As we enter 2014, the manufacturing sector looks set for the first strong year-end since the recession.

The sector reached a two year high for growth in August, and following the news from data firm Markit and the CIPS that manufacturing was a major boost to the UK’s economy in October, the outlook for 2014 is very optimistic. However, that optimism should be tempered with caution.

Competing with the Far East on cost and volume remains impossible, so for last quarter’s new shoots of growth to turn into something truly sustainable, it is vital for UK manufacturers to invest in new technology and embrace new ways of working. Agile, flexible business processes and a focus on customisable, bespoke manufacturing have emerged as important elements of a new approach that has been dubbed Industry 4.0.

The phrase was first coined two years ago at the Hanover Fair, the world’s biggest industrial fair, and defines this new phase in manufacturing as the fourth major industrial revolution, following steam, electricity and the more recent entry into the digital age. While this might seem like a grand comparison, it is certainly justified.  Successfully embracing Industry 4.0 will enable the UK to regain its spot as a major manufacturing power.

However, achieving this new model is not without its challenges, starting with the level of investment required by companies. This is about much more than simply buying and installing the latest equipment, instead requiring a deep investment into integrating new business processes that affect the entire organisation.

The good news here is that we have seen significant proof of manufacturers rising to the challenge. Earlier this year for example we saw £1bn invested into technology and skills for the UK automotive industry, co-funded by the government and manufacturing companies. Likewise, the manufacturers’ association EEF and accountancy firm BDO LLP recently revealed a surge in investment from UK companies, with 24 per cent stating an intention to increase their investment levels – up from just seven per cent from the same poll in May. The result was the highest surge in investment since 2007 and the second highest since the survey began in the 1990s.

A more difficult challenge to address is ensuring that companies have the skilled workers and leadership capable of taking on these new ways of working. As part of a recent round of talks with spokespeople from around the industry, Epicor asked whether the increasing level of automation and ‘intelligence’ in production and business processes in manufacturing would result in IT skills becoming more important.

The response was an unanimous yes, but when we asked if this meant traditional technical skills would become less important, we received a firm no, with many respondents wary of becoming over-reliant on automation and losing the skills to understand and fix problems.

The manufacturing sector has an unfortunate reputation for being slow to embrace change and eager to cling on to traditional methods. If the industry is to remain relevant on the global stage against increasingly sophisticated operations in the Far East, UK manufacturers must prepare themselves for the new strategies required to earn the Industry 4.0 standard.

Steve Winder, Vice President, UK & Eire, Epicor

The Future of Manufacturing – Sheffield Forgemasters’ Apprentices

Despite tough economic conditions our client Sheffield Forgemasters continues to invest in developing young talent for the future, with a strong Apprenticeship programme. I’ve had the pleasure of training and working with some of these young people and their colleagues across the business over the last few years and it’s great to see them making a difference – and having some fun along the way! Well done folks!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDpmH9fif38#!

Recruiting for the Future of Manufacturing

The UK’s manufacturing sector has had cause for celebration recently after the revelation that UK MANUFACTURING output has increased at the fastest pace in almost two decades.[1]  While the country still has a way to go to reach pre-recession levels, the surge in output is a welcome surprise that shows the sector is finally heading in the right direction.

Continued growth is closely tied with the success of the rest of the UK’s economy, and the current boom comes at the same time as the fastest growth in retail sales for several years, as well as an encouraging lift in car sales.

That said, there is much manufacturers can be doing to make sure they are able to sustain this growth over the next few years. Among the most important factors is ensuring a steady stream of fresh talent, especially as the sector itself continues to evolve and demand a more diverse range of skills and talents.

There is much talk of a skills gap hitting the UK’s manufacturing sector in the next few years, but in fact it seems we may already be there. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), more than a quarter of engineering and technology graduates are not currently employed in the sector. With around 50,000 higher education qualifications awarded in the sector per year, this represents a startlingly large amount of potential new manufacturing recruits that either can’t find work in the sector, or have decided to take their qualifications elsewhere. Eight per cent are unemployed.

At the same time, a report by the Social Market Foundation found that due to the UK’s aging workforce, around 100,000 jobs will arise every year that require degrees in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). If this remains unchanged, the think-tank believes the UK will require 40,000 more graduates every year until the year 2020 – almost half as much again of the amount the country is currently producing.

This lack of STEM graduates is set to have an impact on a wide variety of sectors, but the manufacturing industry will be especially hard hit as it continues to evolve and technology plays an ever greater role. Within the factory a growing focus on automation presents a clear need for more skilled IT workers, and globalisation is also bringing greater demands as technology plays a vital role in keeping everything connected.

While STEM graduates are clearly fundamental for the future of manufacturing, the industry must not overlook the need for entry level workers. One of the sector’s greatest strengths is that it has always been possible for an entry level employee to gain new skills and work their way up the chain to an experienced, senior position. Likewise, with non-traditional skills like communication becoming more important, there are even more opportunities for people outside of traditional engineering and technology backgrounds. Around a million young people in the UK are still classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training). The manufacturing industry should be doing everything possible to engage this major potential workforce, particularly at such a crucial time of economic instability and severe domestic unemployment.

With so many engineering and technology graduates not finding work in their field, more needs to be done to promote just what an exciting and fast-paced opportunity a career in manufacturing represents. By making it clear that the industry fosters innovation and offers a great deal of opportunity for advancement, manufacturers can not only attract newly qualified graduates, but inspire a whole new generation of young people to study STEM topics, provide the workforce boost that the UK will so desperately needs, and secure the next generation of UK manufacturing’s future leaders.

Stephen Winder
RVP Manufacturing UK