Manufacturers must build a successful culture from the bottom up. To do this means unlocking the success in teams, where individuals come together in cohesive, dynamic units.
“For manufacturers to improve and enhance their processes, they must listen to the people working closely with these processes.”
The most noteworthy example of this is the Toyota Production System. This is where process improvement derives much of its impetus from employee engagement and feedback. Operational improvement ideas from employees are an intrinsic part of how the company works, and continually improves.
“To make the most of employee feedback, manufacturing firms must first ensure that they have teams that are fully motivated and engaged.”
What Difference Can an Effective Team Make?
“I have experienced the difference on a personal level, between one team dynamic and another. In 1996, Team GB won a single gold medal in the Atlanta Olympics. In 2012, the team won 29 medals in London. The change in the team’s focus and sense of purpose resulted in a dramatic improvement.”
What applies in sport can apply in business: to transform your performance you must unlock the success that a team can achieve.
“Pride is a universal emotion. Winning sports teams have it and it’s a quality that cuts across nationalities and cultures.”
“Success makes people feel good. Tapping into this sense of working together, for a common goal, with a sense of personal fulfilment attached to it, has enormous value for the workplace”
The issue then, is one of instilling this sense of striving to achieve success at an individual level, but where the needs of the team come first.
“This requires an engaged workforce. It means getting them to buy-in to your core values, but also, crucially, to realise how this can empower them.”
“Team members will feel more valued if they can see that they have an input into decision-making and that they are working in a culture where their voices are heard.”
“It’s about making sure the system they work in is enabling them to work better and not causing unnecessary interference. Yes, encourage them to concentrate on their objectives, but also give them the freedom to focus.”
Leadership and Collaboration
Effective leadership empowers others. Applying a command and control leadership model risks failing to properly engage teams.
“Good leaders listen. Sound leadership skills are essential in helping teams develop and unlocking their success. It means encouraging employees to come forward with ideas, and, crucially, to make improvements based on them.”
“A team-based approach brings accountability, so that improvements are not a top-down directive but rather a bottom-up, team pursuit of excellence”
“How do teams bring ideas to life? This is what matters. Not just that you create a positive culture, but also that it is an active one – actively pursuing continuous improvement.”
Manufacturers must nurture the talent to compete successfully, because without it, even with the investment and infrastructure in place, they are likely to fall short of their goals and fail to reach their full potential.
“We read about the skills gap and the challenges many manufacturers face, but the future is not fixed,” concludes Greg. “Build your team to change your story.”
Manufacturing Matters Magazine thanks Greg Searle MBE for his contribution to this article.