Today’s multigenerational workforce changes the way we think about team hierarchy.
Often, a high-level title isn’t enough to demand instant respect from staff members.
Instead, true leaders need to get to know the motivations that inspire their teams, then use strategy to drive those individuals towards success.
As a manufacturing leader, it’s up to you to find out what it takes to positively influence your people. Often, this means immersing yourself with the day-to-day lives of your colleagues, and discovering what you can do to keep them feeling empowered.
Here are just some of the ways that great leaders can set the stage for positive influence.
1. Set the Standard for Work Ethics
To influence action, leaders must be the change they want to see in the workforce.
Demonstrate your expectations for your team by being a beacon of exemplary behaviour. This means if you want your team to take part in new training opportunities, you embrace them first. People automatically respect leaders more when they hold themselves to the standards they set for their team.
Other ways you can set the right standard for your employees include:
- Being transparent: Explain the situation in a way that clarifies the need for action. For instance, why do you need your people to start using a new manufacturing process? Is it easier, safer or faster than your old methods?
- Mentoring: Be available to offer the extra assistance team members may need. Take part in additional training if necessary, so your people can come to you when they have problems.
- Stay calm under pressure: Expect some of your employees to stumble on the way to success. Change can be harder for some people. Great leaders stay calm and focused when facing challenges, and exude confidence towards anxious staff.
2. Be Flexible
Influential leaders know that there’s a time for sticking to their guns, and times when they need to go back to the drawing board. When developing your manufacturing team, you may take risks that don’t work out the way you intended. For instance, you may try to automate certain parts of your supply chain and find that the program you use isn’t as effective as you hoped.
When things don’t go according to plan, great leaders are willing to admit to their mistakes quickly, learn from them, and move on. Leaders ready to pivot when necessary benefit from greater respect from their team, and more honesty too.
Your transparency in embracing mistakes lets employees know that they can come to you when they experience their own blunders.
3. Be Empathetic
Great influence thrives on empathy.
To change the way a person thinks feels or acts, you need to understand what’s going on in their head. Getting to know your staff doesn’t necessarily mean being their best friend, but it does mean learning as much as you can about what they need from you. To build empathy:
- Communicate regularly with your teams: Ask questions about how your employees work each day, and what kind of issues they face. Then, implement strategies to make their role simpler. This shows that you care about your people and that you’re willing to make changes to support their needs.
- Listen carefully: When speaking to your teams, make sure that you’re actively listening to them. Make notes of their concerns, and plan to respond to them as quickly as possible. For instance, if someone says that they’re concerned about safety on the manufacturing floor, book an assessment the same day to see if you can alleviate those worries.
- Constantly build relationships: Influence builds gradually for any leader. The more you connect with your people, the bigger your influence grows. Take steps to get to know your staff members through group bonding sessions, one-on-one meetings, and even the occasional business lunch.
4. Recognise and Reward
In life, we learn wrong from right by paying attention to the consequences of our actions. In a manufacturing team, your people will be looking for evidence that they’re performing well in rewards and recognition.
In a fast-paced business environment, it’s easy to forget about giving your staff the occasional pat on the back. However, anything from a simple “thank you” memo to a free lunch for your highest performing teams will drive influence. When people know that you not only recognise their efforts but are willing to give credit when it’s due, they’ll be more likely to respond to your requests in the future.
Remember that little changes can make a big difference. Think about how you speak to your employees each day, and how you attribute praise. You can even ask your manufacturing team how they would like to receive accolades when they reach their targets. Personalising benefits is just another way to show your people you understand them so that you can build that necessary foundation of respect.