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Motivating Assembly Line Workers Assignment

As team leaders, production managers have the essential responsibility of motivating factory workers. There are many ways to do this in an office setting, but motivating factory workers is a different story. It’s much more difficult to maintain a relationship when they’re on the production line and not sitting next to you at a desk.

The management style you use can make or break the success of your company. Your style should depend on your business goals, employees, and personality type. Different worker segments need different leadership styles—a Navy Seal team requires a much different style than a yoga studio.

Get a free demo of Beekeeper here to see how you can improve your internal team communications for desk and mobile staff throughout your organization.

If you manage factory workers, it’s key to understand they don’t come into work simply because they want to work for you. They have their own goals, ambitions, and reasons for coming to work that won’t always align with yours. Your job is to learn what motivates them to suit up for work every day. Gaining new perspectives will unlock key insights to improve engagement and ultimately the bottom line. Non-desk employees need extra support and when they’re provided with the necessary training and resources, they become much more motivated to put in a productive shift.

Here are four ways to motivate your factory workers and get your production line running like a well-oiled machine:

1. Add meaning to their work.

Every factory worker has different needs. We can use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a guide to see what employees need to reach their full potential. Most employers simply cover the two tiers of basic needs, never trying to reach the higher levels people need both at work and at home.

During a company retreat, Chip Conley, Head of Hospitality at Airbnb, asked groups of housekeepers what would happen if someone from Mars landed on Earth and asked them, “What should we call you?” They came up with some pretty interesting names like, “The Serenity Sisters”, and “The Clutter Busters.” In a study done surrounding hourly workers, three core values arose: meaning, dignity, and self-determination.

Meaning: Every job has a meaning and is important no matter the function. Ditch-digger, fry makers, stable cleaners, you name it. Just because they don’t require higher education doesn’t mean their contribution isn’t valuable. If nobody did these jobs, no one could do their jobs.
Dignity: Dignity comes with how an employee is treated at work. Belittling, neglect, or other unprofessional behavior can drastically reduce productivity, health, and collaboration in any environment.
Self-determination: Self-determination is defined as an employee’s freedom within some boundaries to choose what, when, and how a task is accomplished. Giving employees a sense of control and ownership provides an elevated level of satisfaction, which leads to our next point…

2. Give factory workers more control over what they produce.

Giving factory workers the ability to make their own decisions and see direct result will give them more skin in the game to do their job well. Talk about adding meaning to their work!

In a study done on San Francisco garbage collectors, workers rated themselves very high on job happiness. This was due in large part to being able to choose their own routes and the amount of time spent on each route. Showing you trust your workers by giving them freedom to manage their workflow shows you respect their ideas and, in turn, they’ll want to keep bringing you value.

3. Incorporate bottom-up communication.

Most companies only have a top-down internal communication strategy, meaning management can send information to employees, but not the other way around. By using an internal communication system that allows bottom-up communication, you not only improve internal communication in your factory, you also give workers the floor to express their ideas and instill a sense of belonging. The more you make employees feel like they’re part of the bigger picture, the more they’ll give back.

Allowing bottom-up communication is especially important with distributed workforces. See how Seaboard Foods, a manufacturing with more than 5,000 employees across six states, has improved their internal communications and operations with Beekeeper which facilitates two-way communication.

4. Treat factory workers with dignity, regardless of role.

In the book Life on the Line, the author Solange de Santis recounts the year and a half she spent working in a General Motors plant. She chronicled her experience, through the tough working conditions and disputes between workers and management.

Her biggest takeaway from the experience was how hard-working, skilled, and innovative the factory workers really were. The stereotypical view of factory workers as wage slaves was put aside. De Santis showed these workers make a real difference for the company’s bottom line when they are treated with respect, given room to be creative, and have open dialogues across different levels of the business.

For factory managers looking for some key points to remember when brainstorming motivational ideas, these four factors should be met:

· Goal must be clearly understood
· Progress must be measurable
· Have control over achieving the goal
· A reward system when goals are met

Simply paying workers more won’t give employees more job satisfaction. Creating meaning and motivation must go hand in hand to engage correctly. Working with non-desk employees to develop clear intrinsic goals and acting as a model for them through open dialogue will create a more motivating and fulfilling factory floor.

To learn more about improving internal communications, get a free Beekeeper demo now.

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Great leaders make all the difference.

In business, we see the impact of great leaders such as Tony Hsieh, who took the helm of online shoe retailer Zappos.com from founder Nick Swinmurn. Under Hsieh’s leadership, the company grew from $1.6 million in sales in 2000 to more than $1 billion in sales in 2009.

Through many years of research, trial and error, and working with companies of all sizes in numerous industries, I have identified 16 critical ways to motivate your employees. Learn these techniques and adapt as many as possible in your business.

1. Make employees feel they are doing something meaningful.

A recent survey by BNET (which is now part of CBS MoneyWatch) asked the question, “What motivates you at work?”

The results showed that doing something meaningful is more important than money or recognition to your employees. Twenty nine percent of respondents said that doing something meaningful was the most motivating thing about work. Money motivated 25 percent, and recognition 17 percent.

Therefore, the number one way to motivate your employees is to make them feel that they are doing something meaningful. Now, if your vision is to alleviate poverty, as Kiva’s is, getting your employees to feel like they are doing something meaningful is pretty easy. This might not seem quite as simple for the typical for-profit company. But this, too, is relatively straightforward. Establishing your company’s vision and goals–particularly involving your employees in creating them–will motivate them to achieve these objectives and help them feel that they are doing something meaningful.

2. Effectively communicate and share information.

You also must consistently share new information to ensure that your employees make good decisions.

You must always let employees know how the organization is progressing toward achieving goals. Setting KPIs and posting the associated KPI results monthly will allow you to achieve this.

3. Give employees clear job descriptions and accountability.

It is critical that you give each of your employees clear job descriptions and accountability. It’s not enough to just state each role’s responsibilities; rather, you must specify the expected results and tasks. For example, the customer service manager’s described role might be to handle all inbound customer service calls. Their expected results, however, might be to answer all calls within 15 seconds or less, resulting in 90 percent customer satisfaction in telephone follow-up service. Only by specifying roles and expected results and accountability can you get what you want from each employee.

4. Give and receive ongoing performance feedback.

When things do go wrong, don’t blame. You want to replace who questions with how questions. For example, rather than saying, “Who screwed this up?” say, “How could we improve this process or avoid this in the future?”

5. Have–and show–faith and trust in your team.

Most humans have relatively fragile self-esteem. If you don’t believe your employees can do something, they won’t believe they can either, and they won’t do it. You must have faith in them. You can’t just say you have faith: you need to show you do to enhance their confidence in their ability.

To achieve this, give your employees some autonomy to make decisions. Let them take ownership of challenging projects and decide how to complete them. Although it can be a challenge for almost any manager, you must let them fail sometimes and not get angry about it.

6. Listen to, focus on, and respect your employees’ needs.

You’ve likely heard this before, but it’s worth repeating that in leadership, listening is more important than speaking. I love this quote: “Questions unite. Answers divide.” Asking questions of your team will get them to participate; dictating the answers will cause them to tune out.

7. Provide recognition to worthy employees.

Recognition is an amazing motivator. Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton authored a book called The Carrot Principle in which they discuss a study of more than 200,000 employees that they conducted over a 10-year period. The study showed that the most successful managers provided their employees with frequent and effective recognition. In fact, they found that managers realized significantly better business results when they offered employees recognition in the form of constructive praise rather than monetary rewards.

8. Provide fair compensation and pay for the performance you seek.

First, you must pay a wage that employees believe is fair compensation. Second, you must pay for performance whenever possible. This does not mean 100 percent contingent compensation. It means that you set expectations for base pay while also providing bonuses and clearly defining success. This will compel employees to strive to achieve the goals you have outlined.

9. Foster innovation.

Managers must realize that the vast majority of innovations come from frontline employees. They come from the people who are manufacturing your products or designing your services, who are interfacing with customers, and who are solving problems on a daily basis. As such, innovation must be encouraged.

10. Establish fair company policies that support the company’s goals.

Developing fair company policies that adequately support the company’s goals will motivate your employees even more. For example, you cannot treat attending a seminar as a personal day if you want to encourage continuous learning. Rather, ensure your policies and practices encourage employee feedback, collaboration, decision-making, and so on.

11. Get ongoing input from employees.

You want to invite your employees to help set goals so that they really buy into them. Seek employee input on key decisions and plans on an ongoing basis.

Understand that as the leader, you will make the ultimate decisions and plans. Even if you don’t follow your employees’ advice or take their suggestions verbatim, however, the very act of soliciting their feedback will give you more information and ideas and will make them feel involved.

12. Manage, but don’t micromanage.

Employees do not like to be micromanaged. It’s disempowering. It’s therefore important to distinguish the difference between checking in and checking up on your employees.

Likewise, when managing, don’t dictate every detail of how to complete a project. Remember, employees can’t grow and gain new skills if you’re telling them exactly what to do for every project they work on. They need a sense of autonomy to feel that they’re succeeding.

13. Encourage teamwork.

Most projects you complete will require input from several employees within your organization. Encourage these employees to work as a team rather than a collection of individuals to complete these projects. The easiest way to do this is to set up an initial meeting for the team, refer to them as a team, and give them enough autonomy so they act like a team.

14. Modify your management approach for different types of employees.

Great leaders let the employees they’re managing dictate the management approaches they use. Some employees may need or desire more handholding and coaching, whereas others will want or require less. It’s important to think about each key employee and determine the best way to lead him or her.

15. Give employees opportunities for personal growth.

Because people who get the chance to grow their skills and expertise take more pride in their jobs, you want to encourage employees in your organization to gain new skills. You can do this in many ways, such as providing on-the-job training and other opportunities to teach your employees new skills.

16. Fire people when needed.

The final technique for motivating your team is to fire people when needed. Underperformers can kill an organization; they can become cancers. When other employees see these individuals getting away with underperformance, then they start to underperform. Therefore, firing–as long as you explain to your team why people were fired–can actually motivate your employees.

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