Sheet metal fabrication shops want to increase production levels, improve forming and bending accuracy, and minimize machine downtimes. And you can achieve this by investing in updated machinery and software shop management systems, but do you also invest in your employees? The way you speak to your employees can have a significant impact on their productivity levels and quality of work.

An article titled “Communication Pays Off in Manufacturing” examines the ways how mishandled communication can cost manufacturers. The article interviews Bill Flint of Flint Strategic Partners, a US consulting firm that specializes in helping small to mid-sized manufacturers improve their results. Flint believes that “by opening the lines of communication, manufacturers bring problems to forefront and work on them pro-actively. Doing so can not only minimize surprises, scrap, late delivery, employee turnover and absenteeism, but also improve the bottom line by 10% or more.”

Some manufacturers have found that changing the way they communicate across all levels of the shop can result in reduced missed orders, improved quality, fewer material shortages, and even improved customer relationships.

If you want to boost employee productivity then you could try out 1 of these 4 approaches to improving communication in your shop: 

Here are 4 things you can do to improve productivity:

1)      Create open communication with employees4-steps-to-increase-production

Not involving your employees in internal processes is one of the biggest faults a shop manager or owner can make. If you clearly communicate with your workers you can boost their confidence and enthusiasm for their work, which will ultimately increase your production levels.

Talk to your employees about business profits and how downtimes affect the company. Creating open dialogue with your workers will make them feel like an integral part of the team and you will help you gain better insight into improving manufacturing processes. (The workers who are fabricating sheet metal on various machines day-in and day-out will have great suggestions on ways to improve speed and efficiency).

If you inform and educate your workers on their role in the overall production then you can get them working for the team, rather than working for just a paycheck.

2)      Provide positive feedback in your evaluations

Managers often fail to provide employees with enough positive feedback. A great way to get more engagement out of your employees is to set up growth objectives. Allow them to identify areas they would like to improve upon or new training and certifications they want to undergo.

3)      Create production goals and acknowledge when you pass them

One of the best ways to increase your productivity is to set realistic goals. Setting goals and rewarding employees when they meet them will make them feel valued and motivate them to work harder. You can reward workers by hosting a staff lunch or by handing out gift cards.

Managers that set goals, and provide status reports or real-time statistics get more out of employees than managers that try to boost productivity through negative means. Start or end days with a short meeting to establish goals and update workers on production levels, or announce updates over the loudspeaker.

Tip: Stay dedicated to providing positive feedback, incentives, and point out great work when you see it. You’ll start achieving long lasting positive change, happier employees, and increased production.

4)      Invest in your Production Manager or Supervisor

You may have hired an experienced metal fabrication manager to run your shop and they may be doing a great job on filling orders and meeting quotas, but what do the other workers have to say about them? Is your manager respected? Are they a leader? Do they inspire others? If your supervisor is not well-liked on the shop floor then it will be difficult to get the rest of your team on board.

Look into leadership training courses or workshops that will help your supervisors lead and develop a strong team.

If your manager gets things done by placing stress on workers or by being a bully then it may be best to move on and find a manager that has demonstrated leadership skills. You’ll recoup the cost of replacing a negative manager with a positive one because your workers will start going the extra mile because they enjoy their job environment and feel appreciated.

Remember: Great employee and manager attitudes when combined with efficient ordering processes, preventative maintenance, and updated machinery and equipment are the key ingredients to run a fabrication shop that produces high quality results and higher profits.

Related shop improvement article: Shop Talk: The True Cost of Downtime in the Manufacturing Industry


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