June 1, 2016 / best practices, Employee Morale, human capital, LIT, maintaining talent, operator training, skills gap
Like any fad, management trends come and go. However, that isn’t to say that they aren’t valuable and worth considering. In fact, most of the time, management trends are in direct response to shifts in cultural expectations and work attitudes.
The incoming millennial generation is a good example. As the manufacturing industry attempts to fill the widening skills gap, experts and manufacturing giants like IBM have been suggesting several ways companies can attract this new generation and get them excited about careers in manufacturing.
One trend that continues to gain ground is the push for transparency. In fact, Forbes lists this is as one of the top management trends of 2016 based on research. “Simply put, people like and appreciate being dealt with openly and honestly,” Forbes notes.
According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, there are several terms that describe this trend, including open-book management (OBM), economic transparency, and ownership culture. “Whatever you call it, it means encouraging employees to think and act like businesspeople rather than like hired hands,” the HBR article explains.
In other words, today’s managers should treat employees in a way that engages them and encourages them to take ownership of their jobs. “At open-book companies, it’s part of everyone’s job to contribute to the success of the business,” the HBR article states. “Managers help employees understand, track, and forecast key numbers. They welcome ideas for improvement. They reinforce the ownership mindset by sharing profit increases with everyone, usually through bonuses funded by the increase itself.”
LeanWerks, a contract manufacturing shop featured here in Modern Machine Shop, has instituted an OBM style that allows operators to readily see how their performance affects the company’s bottom line. Reid Leland, president, uses OBM in his shop to facilitate a better line of communication and understanding between management and employees, creating a more transparent and “flattened” organization.
According to the MMS article, Leland’s shop bases its OBM style on three key elements:
- Financial Training. New employees are formally trained on topics such as the time value of money, project management, income statement, balance sheet and cash flow, and ratios such as debt to equity and gross profit to operating expenses (GP/OE).
- Shared Information. Leland’s shop has a large viewing monitor located in a prominent area of the shop that displays a spreadsheet that is updated regularly. The spreadsheet includes company financial information, a list of all shop machine tools, and the gross profit that individual machines produce each day of the month.
- Profit Sharing. At the end of the month, if the GP/OE ratio reaches a certain level, part of the monthly profits is shared with the employees. This information is readily available on the spreadsheet for employees to view so they can monitor profit levels themselves.
Of course, not every shop owner will feel comfortable sharing financial details and may not be able to share profits, but there are certainly benefits to actively engaging employees and creating more of a reciprocal relationship between the executive office and shop floor. According to the eBook, Five Performance-Boosting Best Practices for your Industrial Metal-Cutting Organization, a growing number of managers are finding that operators who take ownership of their process or work area can be invaluable assets to the company.
“Employee “buy-in” can positively affect all aspects of an industrial metal-cutting operation, including quality, productivity, and in the end, the bottom line,” the eBook states. “Similarly, when employees feel disconnected, those same business areas can be negatively affected.”
As the eBook points out, operators who feel valued are more likely to value their jobs and their employer. Even if you aren’t ready to open up your books for the whole company to see, strategies such as collecting feedback, investing in continued education, and setting goals and incentives can all help encourage employee ownership, foster better communication, and improve morale.
How transparent is your industrial metal-cutting organization? In what ways could you encourage employee ownership and facilitate better communication?