Manufacturing Leadership: How to Create Ownership Across Your Work Teams

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By Peggy Fonrose - March 04, 2022

To ensure your factory floor workers are giving you their very best, manufacturing leadership must create a sense of ownership across work teams. To get factory workers to care about outcomes, leaders first need to show they care about employees’ ideas and input.

All of this starts with creating effective manufacturing leadership. We have a few tips for managers to create ownership across their work teams.

How to Be an Effective Manufacturing Leader

Being a manufacturing leader isn’t just about looking at KPIs and telling people what to do and when to do it.

Effective manufacturing leadership is all about:

  • Knowing your KPIs

  • Involving people in projects

  • Considering all ideas

  • Empowering people to enact change

Let’s take a look at how manufacturing leaders can foster a sense of leadership and ownership among factory floor workers.

Know (and Understand) Factory KPIs

If leadership isn’t clear on why a factory’s KPIs are important, it’s less likely the KPIs will be met. Manufacturing leaders who just give orders with no explanation leave workers wondering why and feeling they’re being shut out of their own job.

For example, if a shift manager just tells their team that they need to improve their throughput without any explanation or discussion, employees don’t have a lot to go on. Instead, show workers that inconsistent throughput means inconsistent deadlines and deliveries, which negatively impacts customer service. Make sure to be clear how important their part is in the customer service ecosystem—if the factory loses customers, leaders must make cost-cutting decisions.

When workers know the importance of KPIs, they’re more likely to put more effort into meeting them.

Involve People from Every Corner of Your Organization

If workers consistently say things like, “I don’t know, I just work here,” your employee culture may be stuck in the ‘90s. That’s what it feels like when you just come in and “punch a timecard” instead of going to work and doing your best. That’s exactly what happens when decisions are made in vacuums, and people are just given orders. 

Involving people from every corner of your organization won’t just make people feel more invested in their jobs—it can also help you discover some great ideas. When employees work with purpose instead of just to punch a timecard, they perform better. You never know what kinds of insights a machine operator may have that could be a game changer when it comes to efficiency. 

Remember That No Ideas Are Bad—Some Just Work Better Than Others

Listen—always. Keeping your ears and mind open is what brings on innovation.

When manufacturing leaders create an open environment for employees, they get plenty of ideas and suggestions—and not all of them are going to change the world. But no idea is wrong or bad.

Remember where the idea is coming from: Someone is approaching you with an idea they think will help make the factory a better place to work or a place that works better. They’re creating a sense of leadership among their team, and their dedication to good outcomes shows they feel a sense of ownership. Never blow that off. 

When an idea is not viable, validate its intention and encourage the employee to always speak up. Some ideas work better than others, but you’ll never get those game-changing solutions if your workers are apprehensive to speak up because they are afraid of being wrong.

Empower and Inspire Your Workers to Enact Change

Combine everything we’ve covered here, and you get an empowered workforce who isn’t afraid to enact positive change. 

If floor supervisors see their managers creating an environment where all voices are heard and where problems are tackled with thought instead of blind orders, they’ll follow the example. Often, when supervisors and floor managers don’t create an open-idea environment that empowers, it’s because they haven’t seen it modeled

Manufacturing leadership sets the tone for how the entire factory operates, so make sure everyone sees how it’s supposed to be done. If you continually keep teams informed of crucial KPIs, involve them in projects and decisions, and fairly consider all ideas, you’re going to have an empowered team that’s always looking for innovative new solutions.

Leaders can use lean manufacturing principles to help with creating a sense of ownership across their teams. Lean principles focus on how employees and managers work together and have helped countless organizations from all industries streamline and improve performance.

Create a Sense of Ownership to Find Your Digital Champion

When your teams all feel like owners, they’ll feel more invested—and manufacturing leaders will get better results. People love winning, and factory workers are like everyone else in that when they get a taste of success, they want more. You never know what kind of genius your factory floor is hiding or what kind of insights you can get from the most unexpected places.

Find out where your digital champions are on your factory floor. Take a look at our infographic and see what it takes to be a digital champion, and how you can identify yours and maximize their insights.

Identify Your Digital Champion

Worximity provides simple realtime technologies to solve food processor pains such as downtime, rejects, waste, overtime; helping them gain profit velocity by improving throughput, yield and OEE.

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