What CEOs Can Learn From Their Frontline Workers
Start spending time, listen and learn from your team managers, floor supervisors, and, frontline employees which will give you that competitive edge.
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- Great leaders, lead. They do this by having and effectively communicating a vision with passion and purpose that is then embraced by their workforce. And, at manufacturing firms and supply chain partners, it will be the frontline workers who ultimately execute the steps to achieve each goal. These workers will see problems and figure out solutions long before the C-level execs do. Your frontline workers could be the key to your growth. Here’s how.
- New ideas and improvements. Since frontline workers are preparing the materials, building motors, putting together delicate machinery, painting components and other product development processes, they always know why there is a slowdown in production or gaps in quality controls. Just as importantly, they will be able to advise on how to improve operations from scheduling, deliverables, and changes and adjustments in assembly, storage, transportation and other supply chain logistics. That’s a lot of knowledge that should be heard and acted upon to improve operations and optimize performance. Talk to your workers as often as you to find out what they know and get ideas on how to make your production process more effective and efficient.
- Better planning and production. Spreadsheets may be a helpful guide but your frontline teams are the ones in real-time and will see problems and what needs to be done long before the C-level will. Their understanding on how to meet new demands, pace production and sequence supply chain movements could be solutions that an outside consultant may not know. Become a presence on the floor to watch behaviors and then ask them what is working and what is not. Knowing how the process works firsthand will allow you to make much more informed decisions about how to guide your company in today’s, and tomorrow’s, market. After all, how will you know what’s next if you don’t know what’s now?
- Bringing frontline sensibility to the C-suite. It’s time to promote from the floor to the suite. It used to be practically impossible to move from the factory floor to the executive suite, but that barrier is breaking down – to the benefit of manufacturing companies everywhere. Talent exists throughout every level of your company and the frontline experience will give them a strong grasp of the day-to-day perspective. If you’re not making yourself familiar with the workers who handle your materials, run your machines, and assemble your products, then you’re missing out on a major recruitment pool.
Knowing when to change course. In today’s competitive environment, the most effective CEOs are the ones armed with the most knowledge of their industry, company, and products or services. The more practical, hands-on knowledge that you can add to your wheelhouse, the better off you – and your company – will be. This is especially true given the fast pace of change that manufacturing is seeing, as automation and smart robots continue to grow in importance on the factory floor. Start spending time, listen and learn from your team managers, floor supervisors, and, frontline employees which will give you that competitive edge.
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