Tag Archives: management

6 tips on managing a factory

 

dirty-industry-stack-factory

You’ve finally been promoted to management. Or perhaps you’ve just landed your dream job at a new company. Either way, you’re suddenly in charge of managing a factory and are starting to wonder how you’re going to, well, manage. It’s a big job, after all. You’re in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly, every job is completed properly and the staff on the floor are happy and productive. It can be a bit overwhelming at first.

But don’t worry, you’ll soon figure out how to do everything and remain in control at all times. You were given this job for a reason. However, if you need a little help to get you started, here are six tips on managing a factory.

Know your staff members’ names

You’re not going to get anywhere with your new staff members unless you know their names. If you were previously working on the floor, then this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you’re new to the company, you need to start learning names and quickly. You don’t want to be the manager who can’t greet a staff member on the staircase because they haven’t bothered to remember their name. In the beginning, it’s a good idea to walk around the factory and introduce yourself to everyone and familiarise yourself with what they do. Of course, if there is a large workforce, you probably won’t be able to remember everyone’s name at first. In which case it’s okay to ask for the first few weeks. But once you’ve been there a month, you should be acquainted with everyone.

Learn who works what shift

You need to be on top of things. That’s your job. You need to know what’s happening and when. And that means you should always know who is working what shift. Are there specific people who work night shift and day shift? Or do they switch according to a schedule? If so, you need to know that schedule. You need to be able to make sure that everybody is where they’re supposed to be at the time they are supposed to be there. If you don’t have this knowledge, people may take advantage of your ignorance. You may trust your staff and that’s a good thing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check up on these things.

Keep an accurate record of leave days

You can’t just jot down people’s leave days on post-it notes and stick them on the wall of your office. That’s not going to work. You need to be far more organised than that. Sure, the finance or HR department will have this information but you need to have your own record as well. You need to know when someone is going to be away from the factory so you can make a plan if you need someone to replace them for that period of time.

Check the machines are being used correctly

Part of your job is to ensure that the machinery is in working order. And that means you have to make sure your staff members are using the machines correctly. When equipment is used incorrectly, it gets damaged over time. Which will result in your employers having to apply for additional machinery asset finance. And they will not be pleased about that in the slightest. Just like you are in charge of the workforce in the factory, you are also in charge of the machinery and equipment.

Organise a social event every now and then

If you want your staff to respect you, you have to be firm with them and ensure they are always doing their jobs correctly and to your standards. However, that does not mean you shouldn’t get to know them and encourage them to get to know each other on a social level. Once in a while, ask the company if you can organise a braai or drinks after work to encourage people to interact without the loud noise of the machines. You’ll find that internal politics and rivalries among your staff members will lessen if they start to chat informally with one another.

Review processes regularly

Efficiency is key in any factory. In fact, it’s key in any department of any business out there. It’s about getting the most work done without compromising on quality or safety. And that’s why processes are so important. Processes can make or break a factory. You need to ensure you’re doing things the best way possible while you’re managing the factory. Which means you should research the latest processes, compare them to what you’re currently doing and consider trying new methods in an effort to improve productivity and efficiency.

Well done, you got the job. Now you need to do the work. It’s time you get to know your staff, organise schedules, encourage interaction and make sure the factory is running as efficiently as possible.

3 ways to boost a firm’s value

One of the most important aspects to controlling and managing any company is improving its value. We want it to grow in as many ways as possible, especially in terms of returning investment for shareholders, including ourselves. But how we go about achieving this goal remains difficult. There is no clear cut path, as every business is different and all are competing, finding new angles constantly.

However, there are broad approaches we can consider in our efforts to put our business in better standing.

Focus on leadership

Often, the fact a business is functioning is proof enough it has good leadership. However, too often leaders do not acquire their positions by virtue of their leadership skills but rather because of internal politics and sometimes being charmed by individuals. Neither aspect is a guarantee of excellent leadership.

Robert Hogan, president of personality test provider Hogan Assessment Systems, has done plenty of research on what does make a good leader. Speaking to the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, he counts four properties we should interrogate when thinking of leaders.

  1. Integrity: Can we trust this person and are they honest? Company information can be used to benefit themselves personally, but harm us as a business. We must be certain they are loyal, by virtue of being decent, open and honest.
  2. Judgement: Are they able to make smart decisions, informed by evidence and willing to reflect on their mistakes? This is the only way to grow.
  3. Competence: Staff need to know they can trust this person to deliver. They need confidence in their leaders.
  4. Vision: The direction a business or project takes must be central to a leader. We must know they can articulate and develop what this vision means for everyone.

Cut costs

Another way to improve is focus on cutting costs. How we value a business is a difficult assessment, but one way businesses improve is when they’re spending less than they’re earning. In other words, improving profits. Every business should aim for this, of course, since it shows a business can continue. This is exactly what shareholders want to see in their investment.

Removing bad investments

This could be considered cost cutting, but we should also focus on getting rid of bad investments. For example, we should get rid of working with subpar people and companies, since we’re putting in time and effort and getting little in return.

Basically, the overarching importance is managing corporate finance. Once we do this properly, we can present a more valuable business to our shareholders.

(Image source: Pixabay)

Essential tips for managing your first project

Every business outlines goals with projects. These are merely codified paths toward a goal that benefits a business, taking into account resources and an end date. Projects can, of course, fail or turn out to be a waste of time. But, ideally, all are about doing well by the business. What we need to do is figure out efficient ways to manage these projects.

Examining failure

It might be a good idea to examine how projects fail. TechRepublic describes a few nightmare scenarios. For example, a toy retailer wanted to create a doll able to play pre-recorded music at the touch of a button. The music would be stored on a chip.

As they note:

“The problem was that the computer chips containing the music were sourced from Asia, and at the time there was a longshoremen’s strike on the west coast that held up delivery beyond the holiday season. The consequence? An unsuccessful project and several million dolls that sat in a warehouse unsold.”

How do such things happen? Here it was oversight no one considered: the international situation of foreign suppliers. Other projects fail when they’re entirely reliant on skills only one person has. If this person leaves, the project will fail. Projects go bust because the budget has been miscalculated. They fail because the resources are inappropriate or the interest has dissolved in the product or service being offered.  

Good projects and project managers will never encounter these issues.

What makes good project management?

As most project management training will show, you need to have all your bases covered.

Key to a project’s success is having the right team. As research constantly shows, having a diverse team is key to that. People from different backgrounds – identities, interests, skills, qualifications and so on – all serve to round out overall knowledge. It’s gaps in knowledge which often lead to miscalculation and mistakes.

For example, if the toy company had someone with an interest in international affairs, or the Asian market in particular, there’s a chance they would not have invested in those particular chips for recording sound.

Equally important is having a Plan B. If you have a particularly important project, you can’t predict what might happen in the world. You can have the most diverse team in the industry, but not see, say, a natural disaster negatively impacting a market. By putting all your eggs in one basket, you stand to lose everything – even if you’re certain you stand to gain the world. Spare some resources for alternate plans should your current project fail. Set up an entirely different team. Or, better yet, have multiple projects, all of which benefit but none that will threaten the business.

It’s also essential to regularly check in with where everyone is. This is also where communication comes in. By having a firm grasp on the project’s current state, you prevent potential disasters.

(image source: Flickr)

The business of management

There are fewer things more important than proper management. It seems like a discipline that is primarily for more skilled people or those with experience; yet what matters isn’t just having management but effective management.

Global management consulting film, McKinsey and Company did extensive research into just this and came up with measured results. The result

“shows that the core elements of management can be assessed and scored and that well-managed firms have higher productivity, market value, and growth, as well as a greater ability to survive adverse conditions, such as global financial recessions. Our research further indicates that more than 80 percent of all productivity variation occurs within a given sector for a given country and that there’s a “long tail” of persistently badly managed firms in all countries and across all sectors. These findings suggest a significant potential for management-led productivity improvements in every country on Earth.”

The question is, what does bad management actually look like? We can’t just say it’s a “bad business” because something led to that business being bad. According to Mind Tools, good managers are encouraging and engage with their employees – this shows both that they have a handle on the situation of their employees’ work as well as the employees themselves.

This benefits in two ways: the first is by knowing what your employees are actually doing, it means you have a greater handle on all work in general. Second, by knowing your employees, you can better steer them to get the work done. For example, if you know an employee is stressed because of a home situation, it might be better for everyone – the employee and the business – to help put that work on to someone else or at least reduce his workload. In that way, the work gets done and the employee is treated with respect.

Bad managers however do bad things. As Bloomberg Business highlights: “Bad managers don’t say these things. Helpful, encouraging, and trust-based words and phrases don’t occur to them.”

Rather they threaten employees.

“Lousy managers… love to remind employees that it’s all about the transaction: ‘You work for me.’ They never fail to remind team members that someone else would take the job if you ever got sick of it or let the lousy manager down in some way.”

Of course managers have to themselves manage many things. For example, those who handle fleet management say “time spent on administration has increased in last 12 months”, according to Fleet Point.

Nonetheless, managers need to care about how they operate and treat their employees – because you can’t separate a manager who mistreats his employees from bad businesses. Poor management is poor management – and poor management is detrimental to a business’ success.