Is your plant functionally blind?

Karin Lindner   

General Manufacturing management manufacturing production

You are three steps away from seeing the light.

Have you noticed that people involved in manufacturing spend a lot of time and energy focused on problems? Not surprisingly, they find what they’re looking for. Such a mindset will wear out even the most highly motivated employees. And being so “problem-centric” people miss seeing the opportunities.

I call this “functional” blindness.

Most decisions are actually habits. Operations are focused on more production at a lower cost and perfecting standardized work processes to avoid human errors. But there is a better way.

Here are three steps that will bring some insight to functional blindness:


1. Awareness. Change your perception. Look at your current work environment and how it measures up to your vision for the future to discover the gap.

What are the desired behaviours? Observe how managers and employees interact with each other. How do they walk? How do they talk? Do they have positive energy or are they dragging their feet? Do they understand how their work affects other people down the line?

Be aware of the people who don’t cooperate because they will use a lot of your resources. They’ll need more time, supervision, direction, working capital and energy.

When you’ve come to terms with your observations, grab a note pad and walk the floor. Interact with your employees and ask them how things can be improved.

2. Self-improvement. Continuous improvement is a must for companies operating in a competitive global market place, but what about self-improvement? Don’t overlook its power. How can a company have high quality standards if employees don’t know what they’re good at? Each person has to understand how he or she contributes to the success or failure of the business. Start the self-discovery process with yourself and see where it takes you. And ask your employees: “What one thing can I do better for you?”

3. Respect. Employees won’t give their best effort if they’re not treated with respect. Get out of the way and allow them to think for themselves. This is the highest form of respect!

Communicating in a more positive and encouraging manner creates a different energy in the work environment, which combined with these steps will help overcome functional blindness.

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