3 min read

Walking with the dog

Walking with the dog

I have two dogs. I walk them daily and I’m always aghast at people in my neighborhood who are on their phones while they do it. The dog looks as happy as ever to be out, sniffing, enjoying time outside, and the owner is just engrossed in something else. I never understood talking to someone while doing something else – it’s one of those times that I truly believe you’ll never do either really well. Whether I call to talk to you, or you call me to do the same, if I pick up the phone and answer, I’m going to be listening to you.

I could be talking about a lost art here, but that’s not where I’m going. I’m talking about a distracted world. People are constantly doing multiple things: watching TV while surfing the internet, driving and talking (okay, that one I do), walking and chatting. We’re conditioning ourselves to multitask with that digital device that’s in your palm or pocket right now.

Your team does that, too. They work on the items that you give them and are listening to music, watching their phones, seeing items ping them on their watches. There are few who are 100% focused at any time.

So, how do you engage a team? How do you get them to pay attention to the work you need them to do and do it correctly?

It’s the bane of most manufacturers. It’s hard enough to find good people that want to work in manufacturing. But how do you keep them interested? How do you build and cultivate the culture that makes them not only want to stay but to perform at the highest levels?

Production Operations

It all comes down, for me, to keeping them engaged. Any business has to worry about that. All of us need to spend time asking questions, listening and delivering on the outcomes. Have you ever asked your team what would be helpful to them? What they want? How they want to do their work (within the safety and production guidelines you have, of course)?

The use of technology on the shop floor (for production rather than surfing) is a mixed bag. There are plenty of tools out there that promise connectivity, and have your team go to a central location, where they “clock on” to a job. Does that help your team? My experience tells me that most of your workforce doesn’t see the value in clocking into anything. That’s a double-check method for you, not a helpful service for them.

Your Production Operations are guided by the raw materials, parts, and ingredients you need for your team to do their work, the people you have today, and the work that needs to be done. Each of these have different priorities at different times. If your top machinist is taking a day off today, that work will go undone and you need to pivot all the rest of the work after that step. Production is a live thing. It moves. It changes – all the time.

Paperless Operations

With that in mind, you need a system that will flex with your team and your day. You need something to reprioritize work as things finish up or get delayed. You need it to help you shift work as things get bogged down in one area or another. You need it to do the multi-tasking for you. Paperless production – a digital system for your shop floor – keeps your team on their toes and, more importantly, gives them a tool to help them do their jobs, not just check up on them.

We believe that the operator on your shop floor is the heart of your business. Without them, there would be no work that would get done. Meeting them where they are, asking them for help choosing a tool that would work for and with them, is an important step in moving your business forward. We want your operator to be engaged in the work, have the tools they need at their fingertips, and be able to communicate with you directly through the tool to let you know how it’s going, what’s wrong and how to fix it.

You can’t stop your team from looking at their own technology during the day. (Well, there are a few of you that don’t allow phones on the shop floor or use lockers for personal items, but very few.) You certainly can’t force them to concentrate on the work in front of them. But you can give them tools and methods that make the work itself more interesting, easier, and more helpful. You can meet them where they are and provide them a template for productivity that they will actually engage with. Ask us how.  

Oh, and if you happen to be taking your dog out for a walk (you should do this every day), put the phone away and spend some time with the happy guy. They just love it when you give them attention. Walk with them. Together.

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