Leadership in the business world is often synonymous with being a CEO or among the fortunate C-suite. We also cannot break away from the image of leadership from the boardroom. It’s true, most vital decisions that spread a company’s wings or kneecap it, are contemplated and made in the boardroom. Everything trickles downhill, so of course, the main source of leadership in business is going to come from the CEO and from headquarter office. However, leadership in different zones of the business is becoming more and more critical. It turns out that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs aren’t really that great at leading practical elements of their business. This is why we see issues in Apple and Facebook all the time. Their manufacturing and hardware issues, all stem from a lack of leadership in their facilities. If you work in a manufacturing facility, have you ever thought about stepping up to the plate yourself?
Incremental small improvements
The manufacturing process in any business is always going to be incredibly exciting. It’s perhaps second only to the amazing atmosphere of the research and development department. Manufacturing is where things actually get made, a chunk of metal gets turned into a part, materials connect together and support each other. Perhaps you’re a skilled worker that’s been working and observing things on the floor. You’re watching how small mistakes and errors are made, you’re taking note of the recurring fault patterns and what the causes are for causing the most imperfections. Don’t ever think of yourself as just another worker, doing their thing on the production line. Businesses need their workers to think.
Write down everything you see, which is worthy of being improved. Take special care to note down your personal experiences and the experiences of fellow workers around you. Then you can compile everything into a report. Clearly point out the problems, give some examples and most importantly, think of detailed solutions. When you have made this report, it’s within your best interest to hand it to your manager. Speak to them about how you have observed some issues that not only cost time and money but might be holding back the quality and quantity of the products made in the facility.
The manager’s path
In almost every inspirational story, there’s always a humble yet talented professional, that wants to become a leader in their field. Movies, books and news reports are attracted to this story arc because it’s a tale of the average Joe, becoming one of the big cats. However, this isn’t just any old media sensationalism. Businesses around the world are looking for just these types of people. Those that have worked their way up and know the industry and indeed the business back to front. So if you would like to play a more leading role, taking a course that would lead you to the path of a managerial role is something to take seriously. Don’t worry, modern courses regarding manufacturing fields can be done while still working.
Take for example the University of Alabama Birmingham where they have a 100% online Bachelor of Science in Industrial Distribution degree. If you were to take this course, you would have career opportunities as a sales manager, logistical distribution manager and purchasing agent to name a few. This type, of course, would allow you to utilize the skills you have acquired by working on a production line or in a warehouse and combine them with a leadership role. Supplies distribution is definitely one of the more coveted roles as you will be the gatekeeper for keeping the manufacturing facility going and working with every department to keep the flow running smoothly.
Don’t just sit idly by
Manufacturing facilities are just like every other professional workplace. There will be weekly or bi-weekly meetings. Managers will call your floor into a room and there, they will lay out all their grievances and praise of your work. Most of the time, employees sit idly by, they sit back in their seats and just wait for the meeting to be over. Don’t confuse this with complacency, many just want to get on with their work and know what they have to do to make improvements. However, if you would like to become a leader in the facility one day, this is not an option.
Have something to say, think carefully about what matters to you and your fellow workers. Try to think like a manager. What kind of improvements can be made or what issues have recently arisen that are detrimental to the production line and or your section of the line? Contrary to what you may think, managers do want to hear suggestions, they want to know how they can improve the workplace. Don’t let peer pressure hold you back, never feel embarrassed about actively engaging in manager’s meeting discussions. Guess what? If you make good talking points, your name will be noted for potential promotion by the managers.
Make yourself known
You may think of it as being too bold, but making your superiors aware of your desire to play a more leading role is highly recommended. Yes, you must take care in how you word what you say, and be under no illusions of your ability and skills. But, if you have shown yourself to be great at your job, consistent in your hard work, then you have the right to have your name placed into the hat of potential managers.
Talk to your manager or floor manager and ask about a training opportunity for a managerial role. Most of the time you will be told there isn’t an opening. Don’t let this put you off, because you can still ask to have your name kept in waiting so that when the opening does arise, your name is at the head of the line.
Manufacturing is a labor-intensive, loud, dirty but also, amazing field of work. If you have an immense passion for the industry, you must always aim high. Playing a leading role in your current facility is definitely where you should start.