Don't Just Talk About a Skills Gap - Do Something!
Countless news reports point to the skills gaps among U.S. manufacturers, particularly among small- and mid-sized companies. Executives quoted in these articles typically cite a familiar litany of complaints about potential employees: poor math skills, inability to pass drug tests, lack of work ethic, don’t like manufacturing, blah, blah, blah.
But the topic that should really concern these leaders is how terrible most companies are at leveraging the latent talent they already have — and augmenting it selectively with new employees. The sad truth is that most manufacturers, for all their worry about talent, don’t have the simple strategies, plans, and best practices in place to address those concerns.
The numbers are clear: Almost half of U.S. employers report that talent shortages have a medium to high impact on their business. Yet a full 20% of these companies have no strategy to overcome talent shortages. The MPI Group found that 11% of manufacturers have no human-capital management strategy, while another 27% have only a generic strategy with little or no functional involvement (i.e., operations and production staff are disconnected from HR practices).
How can a manager break his reliance on the “skills gaps” excuse? By deploying the 3Es (Educate, Engage, and Empower) in a long-term strategy:
Educate new hires: Manufacturers can’t expect new hires to excel without both training and broader perspective of organizational objectives. Leading companies (e.g., Toyota) deliberately place new hires in positions outside their comfort zones and areas of education, supporting them with training on the job as they learn more about the company and its processes. The goal is to make sure that everyone keeps growing — and avoids complacency.
Engage employees: Employees are just like their bosses: they need motivation and incentive to perform at peak levels and assume new roles. Research done by Dr. Thijs van Rens, Department of Economics, University Warwick, found that low wages are primarily to blame for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills gaps, rather than ineffective education systems. “Businesses complain about the lack of workers with STEM skills, but are unwilling to raise wages for these workers — or reduce wages for workers with skills that are less in demand.” Which wages at your company are non-competitive? Which are too high?
Empower employees: Employees at every level of the company must have the skills, training, and authority to make informed decisions that delight customers and create margin. Empowerment is the toughest challenge for manufacturers, because it requires mutual trust and respect between employees and management — a major cultural shift at many firms. A study by the MPI Group found that about half of all manufacturers empower less than half of their workforce; 20% empower nobody.
You can complain about the skills gap, or you can leverage the 3Es and fix it.
What’s it going to be?
MAGNET is a part of Ohio MEP, part of the NIST-MEP program
One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. The order may change but the top cited standards typically don’t change. Top 10 Sited Safety and Health Violations: 501 - Fall Protection 1200 - Hazard Communication 451 - Scaffolding 134 - Respiratory Protection 147 - Lockout/Tagout 178 - Powered Industrial Trucks 1053 - Ladders 305 - Electrical, Wiring Methods 212 - Machine Guarding 303 - Electrical, General Requirements Three of the 10 sited standards are directed at the construction standard (1926) while other fall within the general industry (1910). It should be noted however that the general industry standard also has fall protection guidelines. Year after year, inspectors see the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury. More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured. By understanding these regulations you can improve your safety program and prevent injuries. Give me a call if you have any compliance doubts, or want to review OHSA regulations. Gwido Dlugopolsky at 216-391-7766 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Why does it take a NASCAR pit crew only 15 seconds to change four car tires when it takes people like you and me minutes? The answer is simple SMED. Single Minute Exchange of Dies, or SMED, is a process for reducing the time it takes to do equipment changeovers. Using the principles of SMED you should be able to perform any changeover in your facility in under 10 minutes! The SMED process is simple – convert as many changeover steps as possible to “external”, meaning they are done while your equipment is still RUNNING, while simplifying and streamlining the remaining steps. SMED is broken down into the following 3 Steps: Separate Convert Streamline We found this article to be very helping in explaining the SMED process in more detail: LEAN PRODUCTION - SMED A good first step to achieve this level of SMED efficiency would be to run a kaizen event at your facility to standardize (5S) your tools and supplies. Doing this alone will help you achieve 40% to 50% greater efficiency. Once the “low hanging fruit” is gone, you can still reduce setup times another 20% by practicing more advanced SMED principles.
The secret to closing any sale is to reduce uncertainty in the buyer and replace it with confidence in YOU, your PRODUCT/SERVICE, and your COMPANY. Step 1 – Confidence in YOU Someone buying from you wants to be able to fundamentally connect with you on a human level and feel confident that you’re an expert in what you’re selling If you’re selling paperclips, be an expert in paperclips If you’re selling design and engineering related services, be an expert in design and engineering related services Focus on addressing the problem, not the solution….MEANING you already know you have the solution, connect with the buyer by being an expert with the problem he/she is facing. Prove that you know the problem and all aspects of the problem like the back of your hand. Step 2- Confidence in the PRODUCT/SERVICE you are selling Someone buying from you needs to trust the product/service you are selling will solve their problem. It’s your responsibility to deliver a solution and the benefits associated with it. Basically you need to “Hit a Homerun” communicating this message. Tip – Use Success Stories: Share with the potential buyer examples of your product/service solving problems and delivering value for