Managing a Manufacturing Team and Multiple Jobs

Managing a manufacturing team is complex.  You will face challenges, opportunities, and difficult decisions, all while overseeing a staff with different personalities, strengths, and abilities.  When you add multiple jobs into the mix, you have a whole new dynamic. 

Once you understand the factors involved, through strong rapport, clear communication, training, motivation, and set goals, you can work to build a cohesive manufacturing team, able to handle multiple jobs simultaneously!

BUILDING RAPPORT WITH YOUR TEAM

Whether you are a new Manufacturing Manager or a seasoned one, building rapport with your team is a very important trait to have.  Have you, yourself, ever had a bad day and under-performed in your career?  Depending on how your manager at the time speaks with you will define how you feel about yourself, about them, and sometimes about your job.   As a Manufacturing Manager, I recommend having monthly team meetings and one on one meetings with each of your team members.  This is what you need to do to build trust within your manufacturing team and to have them become stronger and more cohesive as a group.  You may find that having meetings as a group may not work for everybody and having one on one meetings may work more frequently, that will be for you and your company to decide.  Some reasons for having good rapport with your team are:

  • Smoother workforce
  • They will be more receptive to your feedback
  • Earning their loyalty
  • Good manners
manufacturing team

COMMUNICATION

Communication is key in any relationship, but as a Manufacturing Team Leader, communication is perhaps one of the most important things to get right with your team.  Having good communication skills and being able to work together towards a common goal will make it easier to achieve the completion of the multiple jobs you have ahead of you on the schedule.  If you have multiple jobs coming up at once, hold a meeting to collaborate about them.  Let the manufacturing team voice their ideas and concerns about the jobs and brainstorm about what was needed to make production easier — space, tools, time, etc.  Having the whole manufacturing team involved in the discussion will create a stronger and positive work environment.  The team will work well together, and the multiple jobs will flow smoother out the door.  Good communication as a Manufacturing Team Leader works to:

  • Create a Strong and Honest Team
  • Improve Productivity and Efficiency
  • Help to Resolve Conflict when they arise
  • Increase Employee Engagement
manufacturing team

MOTIVATION/RECOGNITION

Motivating your manufacturing team members keeps the whole department in good spirits.  To be a good manager, you must know your team members and what moves them.  You may have one team member that does well at one thing and not so well at another, and as a leader you need to know that.  You will have multiple generations within your manufacturing team, but there are 2 different generations that you will most likely see, the Gen X’ers and the Millennials.  I have found that Gen X’ers are looking for Power and Stability, while Millennials are looking for Structure and Order and Power.  Recognizing your team together or individually is your choice; maybe you have a star of the month who stands out or the whole manufacturing team did well that month and they deserve a reward, such as a free pizza Lunch.  This is where you must go back to communicating and having good rapport with your manufacturing team and your meetings to find what motivates each person individually.  You will find they will stay engaged in what they do, have lower levels of absenteeism and will feel more valued as an employee.

manufacturing team

TRAINING AND CROSS TRAINING

Training is the key to success of any manufacturing team and cross training your team is a vital when you have multiple jobs to complete.  Cross training builds a stronger and well-balanced work force.  The many benefits include:

  • Re-igniting their passion for the job at hand
  • Giving them a new challenge
  • Providing a sense of Growth and Accountability
  • Developing Strategic Planning with the schedule
  • Building a Stronger Team
  • Enhancing Skills
manufacturing team

SCHEDULE

In any manufacturing plant a schedule is your best friend.  You must know which job to work on and when it is due to be completed.  When multiple jobs hit the schedule at the same time, it is your job as the Manufacturing Manager to review the workload and delegate which job is to be worked on to your team.  When delegating these tasks, you need to take the following factors into consideration:

  • The goals must be clearly understood
  • The progress must be measurable
  • The end date must be clearly stated
  • Any and all issues are to be brought up immediately

If these factors are not taken seriously, the multiple jobs and your manufacturing team will be put at risk of not meeting the set schedule. 

In summary, once you have built and trained your staff, when you find your manufacturing team have been assigned multiple tasks on a tight schedule, it is your time to shine. 

When you have RAPPORT, COMMUNICATION, MOTIVATION/RECOGNITION, TRAINING/CROSS TRAINING, and the SCHEDULE, you don’t just have a group of words, you have a Team of words that work together to help you get the job done.

Written by: Jennifer McCullough