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Women in Manufacturing

Sunday, February 28, 2016
posted by IMT-Webmaster

women-in-manufacturing-webEven though there has been considerable progress in labor force participation especially when it comes to women in manufacturing, I think the percentage of women drops significantly as you look higher in the manufacturing ranks. Despite concerted efforts among co-operations, overall this picture has not improved for years. It is clear that women are over-represented in among unpaid home workforce and informal sectors across the board.

In the USA for example between 1970 and 2009, women went from holding 37% of all jobs to nearly 48%. That’s almost 38 million more women in the workplace. Without them, the economy would be 25% smaller today. McKinsey & Company (2011) argue that this is equal to the combined GDP of Illinois, California and New York. It is important to remember that an expanding workforce and rising productivity are two most important factors that drive GDP growth.

According to McKinsey & Company there are factors that limit women’s rise to the top in certain corporations. These are the need for personal achievement, more money and recognition just like men. Lack of role models, exclusion from the informal networks not having a sponsor in upper management to create for them opportunities is also an obstacle.  The assumption that women cannot handle certain jobs at the same time attend to family responsibilities is another limiting stereotype that managers use to deny women opportunities. Lastly women have their own limiting beliefs that hamper their development- such as waiting to attain more skills or just wanting to be asked.

Advantages on having women in the workplace

According to Zeneger Folkman, a corporation that researches on leadership, women in the workplace do rate higher than their male colleagues on 12 out of 16 characteristics required in manufacturing. Women significantly outscored men in taking initiative and being result driven. Below are additional areas showing why keeping a woman in the work place is being smart:

  • Women will often chose to remain in certain jobs when efforts are made to make them feel valued professionally.
  • Unlike men, women value the prospect of pouring their energies into making a difference and working closely with colleagues. They never want to give away that satisfaction for anything else.
  • Women are naturally good at listening than men. This is one vital skill that is critical in managing people if managers need to optimize productivity from employees as well as keep customers. According to Dr. Susan Sherwood, this is so because women are more discussion oriented than men who more often than not just want to take action. Men tend to communicate through activities rather than conversations.
  • Women are better listeners than men, and this is exactly the skill that women in manufacturing need to manage the workforce and clients. This is imperative because workers want bosses in who are willing to listen, feel and act from a knowledge point of view. This way they know that their challenges and grievances are being handled better.
  • Women are also better at consensus building unlike men who are would like to give directions. The obvious male dominated commanding leader  that runs from top to bottom is being phased out by women in the workplace who are willing to listen more. Female leaders are more likely to lead through influence that comes as result of building supportive relationships.
  • Women being mothers are traditionally more likely to be more tolerant with their employees than men. They are less likely to jump into instantaneous conclusion or make decisions too quickly or take action too soon. When people wait they will make more informed decisions.

Bottom line – A healthy workforce is a blended workforce where the right people are placed in the right positions.

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Steering Millennials Towards a Future in Manufacturing

Monday, February 1, 2016
posted by IMT-Webmaster

steering-millenials-towards-a-future-webChange is coming as long as I am alive. And, change will come long after I am gone just like it was long before I was born. Manufacturing is not exempt from change, and the companies who succeed long term adapt as necessary to the ever evolving environment of their business sector.

Part of this success must come from efficient and effective employee training and development. Being aware of the ever changing business sector external environment alone is not sufficient, as project management within the internal environment is necessary to ensure your inputs, processes, and outputs meet and or exceed company goals.

A question I often ask myself is “What will become of the manufacturing industry in this country?” As I survey the landscape of today’s millennials and the varieties of directions they are heading, rarely do you hear or read about a college student gearing towards a career in manufacturing. Does this mean that the pool of currently available and soon to be available applicants for KRYTON Engineered Metals is subpar at best? No. Long gone are the days of a blacksmith as today we see technological growth in all areas of the manufacturing industry, and KRYTON Engineered Metals remains on the “cutting edge” with our “Cut It, Form It, Fab It” efficient and effective model. We are filled with the latest technology, and it shows in the quality of our work and the quality of our people.

What’s going on right now at KRYTON is simply a snapshot of a long tenured career in manufacturing, of which the majority has been with the company I helped start.  Make no mistake that the applicants who have the education and or experience necessary to get “a foot in the door” with KRYTON are aplenty as todays educational landscape focuses on technological advances and constant improvements in quality assurance. Once in the door at KRYTON, one can expect proper employee training and development so that we can meet and exceed our company objectives and goals current and future, as 2016 and 2017 will be pivotal years for all involved at KRYTON with incredible growth strategies being implemented. As these growth strategies are implemented, it will be only natural that more eyes will turn towards KRYTON, and with proper planning and development now we will not be caught off guard.

With KRYTON’s implementation of its global strategy in the years to come, millennial’s can be sure that the demand for applicants who possess the necessary talents will be in demand. Equally important at KRYTON Engineered Metals is the proper employee training and development of current staff so as to keep KRYTON on the leading edge in the manufacturing sector at a domestic as well as global level. Exciting times are here in manufacturing, be a part of it!

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‘Doing’ as the NEW Learning

Monday, December 7, 2015
posted by IMT-Webmaster

doing-is-the-new-learning-webVANISHING POINT

Baby Boomers are retiring en masse. This unprecedented exodus has been the subject of a Social Security Administration report, which found these workers departing at a rate of 10,000 per day. While such a figure carries far reaching implications for every sector of the economy, the impact on manufacturing companies has been particularly harsh.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

A study by the Pew Research Center shows that, as of this year, Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers as the largest segment of the workforce. This influx of 53.5 million new workers should translate into a surplus of skilled replacements, but it hasn’t. Only 5.4% of those 18-34 have opted for careers in manufacturing. Branding can be blamed for part of this shortfall, as the industry has proven inept at appealing to the digitally obsessed generation.

LAWS OF ATTRACTION

There are countless articles, seminars, and HR pamphlets dedicated to the complex art of recruiting Millennials, who are a whole other kettle of fish. Since it could take a separate post to unpack the “How To” conundrum, I’ll simplify things by examining the obvious characteristics of Generation Y. For starters, we know that they are:

  • Group Oriented
  • Innovative
  • Tech-Savvy
  • Socially Active
  • Developmentally concerned
  • Creative
  • Digitally Obsessed

Now, let’s look at recent technological advances reshaping our industry:

  • 3D Printing and Painting
  • Nano-Technology
  • Sustainability Initiatives
  • Internet of Things
  • SMAC Stak
  • Next Shoring
  • Introduction of Industry Apps

From here we can conclude that manufacturers and millennials make natural allies. Revisiting the branding issue for a moment; our industry has done a poor job of distancing itself from the iconic photographs of dank assembly line laden factories of the early twentieth century. My manufacturing company is not the same as my grandfather’s, but without a push to transmit this new image to the general public, potential workers remain unenlightened.

THE GOOD NEWS

The United States Department of Education has shifted focus to STEM related curricula. This push will help capture the imaginations of future workers and prepare them for a career in our industry.

THE BAD NEWS

While this bodes well for future members of the workforce, it does nothing to assist with the current deficiency. Even if interest were suddenly generated and the industry experienced a massive influx, there would not be sufficient lead time for proper employee training and development.

DOING AS THE NEW LEARNING

This has led myself and other employers to develop on-the-job-training techniques designed to maximize efficiency in a reduced time frame. Here is an opportunity to appeal to the creativity, networking abilities, and group mentality of Millennials, by asking that they assist in the innovation and application process. For employee training and development in the new era, doing must become the new learning.

EMPLOYEE TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

Kryton Engineered Metals and other manufacturing employers are also maximizing development through such programs as:

  • Internship Offers
  • Community and Technical College based recruiting programs
  • Mentoring Programs
  • Job Rotation

As already seen, millennials are training focused and require constant feedback. As a manufacturer, I understand the value of placing incoming workers with veteran employees who can provide such feedback. I also understand their desire to be a part of something larger than themselves, and know I can capitalize on this by having them learn aspects of every job process.  Doing so helps them see that they are more than just another cog in the machine. After all, if I wait for education to provide the skilled workforce needed, my machine will not have enough cogs to function.

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The Skills Gap and the Manufacturing Industry

Monday, May 18, 2015
posted by IMT-Webmaster

The Skills GapThe Days of Pensioned Retirement

In the past twenty years, American industries have rolled over and many went belly up, and not all of it was due to the national and international economy.  In my father’s time, blue collar and white collar workers alike had goals of gaining a position with an established and growing company, where the ultimate objective was to stay with that company employer, working your way through the levels, until you could retire with a comfortable pension.  Companies felt an obligation to workers, and the workers reciprocated with loyalty and remaining with the company for the duration.

Change of Need, Change of Speed

Today when I look around my durable metals manufacturing company, There are vacancies where skilled workers should be plying their trade.  The German expression that man with a trade has a golden foundation should be even truer today, but sadly, there is an ever present gap between employee training skills available in my workers and the employment billets I need to fill.  I know the work force is available, ready and willing to do a hard day’s work for a good day’s pay.  I need to develop a program to initiate, educate and retain employees today to train and stay,  proficient with the tools and programs coming down the future years. I feel it is my responsibility to turn off the negativity toward company loyalty, tenure, apprenticeship, and trade skill levels and turn on the younger new hires to the goal of joining my company and learning everything they can about the metal manufacturing industry so that they are assured of a seat in our company’s ride to success.

My check list for achieving tenured employees:

  • Organizing school (public, trade, college) field trips to the manufacturing plants.
  • Arrange personnel visits to schools to give presentations, answer questions and encourage apprenticeship and employee training in our company.
  • Promotion of apprenticeship programs.
  • Offering internship and apprenticeship positions in the manufacturing sector.
    • Have the manufacturing skilled position waiting for the successful intern in employee training so they know they are working toward a future with the company.
    • Open avenues for other companies to source work to  us.

Importance of Training Youth.
Everyone wins by empowering youth. I will  build  growing a workforce to suit my company needs from the local people.
• Engaging youth builds a long term solution to my supply and demand flex of skilled labor vacancies.
• By giving work experiences and employee training; I encourage skilled workers.
• They learn to make informed job choices.
• Young talent comes with ideas, innovations and willing to change status quo.  They still think the impossible is possible.
• The young are ambitious, achievement-oriented and  crave meaningful jobs that really do something.  Give one a job with a future and he will have pride in it being performed correctly.

For most youth, landing that first job is a  huge milestone. They greatly contribute to productivity and quality.  My company needs them now, honing skills and making improvements in the old ways.

Summary

I want this generation aware that we used to be a great manufacturing nation and the silent steel mills of the  Rust Belt are a tragedy.  I want them to know they can take back the title of Great Manufacturing Nation, and by doing it, they  guarantee good careers not only for themselves but their offspring.

If our youth have a future in the U.S., it is because they have a future in our industries: manufacturing, research, assembly, transportation and holding the reins to the galloping digital tech industry.

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Coaching vs. Controlling

Friday, February 13, 2015
posted by IMT-Webmaster

coaching-vs-controllingWhen it comes to motivating employees to do their best, the traditional performance evaluation method can often come up short. By focusing on correcting past behaviors, mistakes, and shortcomings, it can set up an adversarial relationship between managers and workers – a “controlling” relationship where the employee feels like they’re being watched, criticized and judged.

In 2014, at Kryton Engineered Metals, we started the process to do away with traditional performance evaluations, and replaced them with Catalytic Coaching. We teamed up with three local businesses (Hawkeye Community College, Lincoln Savings Bank, and Distek), and brought the Energage team to the Cedar Valley to help us implement Catalytic Coaching with our organizations.

This new system was the perfect blend of employee engagement and performance management for our company, one that truly embraced the “coaching” concept.

Catalytic Coaching has challenged us to rethink a lot of standard employee management practices. It eliminates the rating and ranking of employees. It doesn’t attempt to justify next year’s salary with last year’s performance. It’s a new way of thinking that’s helping us transform our managers into coaches who help our employees grow their perceived strengths while developing areas for improvement. The concept centers around the employees drafting a development plan aimed at improving their contributions in their current job, and increasing their potential for other opportunities.

Catalytic Coaching at Kryton, like in sports, focuses employees on the future – not on the past. The focus is more on the conversation between the manager and the employee, rather than a long, complicated, complex form for compliance purposes.

As a result, we’re starting to see our supervisors begin to act more like coaches, and being less critical and judgmental, which has been better received by employees. Our employees are taking more ownership of the process for personal development. And our HR staff are becoming coaching consultants instead of process policemen.

And so far, that appears to be a win-win for everyone.

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