The individuals on the production floor are crucial to the success and performance of the business. Allowing poor communication to jeopardize their essential work can have dramatic impact:
- Poor communication causes an average loss of $62.4 million yearly for businesses with over 100,000 employees. For smaller businesses with (over 100 employees), the average loss is $420,000 per year.
- 86% of leaders report ineffective communication and collaboration as a cause of workplace failures.
Information silos on the production floor can also lower team morale and engagement and introduce safety hazards to operators and maintenance professionals.
It’s well worth your time to implement actionable ways to improve production floor communication. We have five tips to help you get started.
5 Tips for Improving Production Floor Communication
These five tips will help you and your team better communicate. Each method comes with actionable steps to help you begin incorporating it on the production floor today.
1. Have Clearly Defined Roles
Eighty-five percent of leaders need to better define what each person should be working on.
When roles are vague, the staff can develop inefficiencies. There needs to be clear indication of who does what.
Having clearly defined roles helps boost productivity and communication, especially on a production floor where multiple team members work on various operating tasks. Defining roles ensures that each person understands who to approach for specific concerns and questions, and how to avoid overstepping boundaries.
How to Clearly Define Roles
Leaders should begin with the following:
- Define each individual’s responsibilities. This should include specific tasks along with the short- and long-term goals of that role.
- Define clear expectations for each person’s role. Describe the level of quality you expect workforce members to achieve. Provide an example of what quality looks like (e.g., a demonstration of what efficiency looks like in an assembly line, a product that has met all compliance standards, packaging that has exceeded expectations, etc.).
- Take the points above a step further by mapping out how each person’s responsibilities are connected to the production area’s short- and long-term goals.
Communicate these points using various methods:
- In -person during team meetings. This allows everyone to stay updated and make the necessary adjustments (if there has been a shift in roles).
- In writing via document or email. Having something in writing is helpful for because staff members have something to refer back to.
2. Invest in Ongoing Learning and Development
Consider the following:
- Manufacturing is one of the top four industries hit hard by turnover.
- Time is of the essence on the production floor. When dealing with a the demand for products, assembly lines and procedures need to operate seamlessly to fulfill customer needs.
When a facility is short-staffed amid pressing operational deadlines, establishing and maintaining consistent communication becomes even more important.
Studies illustrate ongoing learning and development (L&D) can be a great solution for retention issues:
- 94% of workforce members state they would stay at their company longer if it invested in their learning.
- Businesses that excel at internal mobility can retain staff members for two times
longer than those that struggle with mobility.
How to Invest in Ongoing Learning and Development
Here are three proactive steps you can take to invest in ongoing L&D with communication in mind:
Assigning each new hire a training/mentoring partner to show them the ropes. If your team members comprise individuals who speak different languages, assign them someone who is comfortable communicating in the new hire’s preferred language.
Receiving feedback from production- floor workers on what they’d like to learn or improve on. Help your team members find opportunities to fulfill these goals. Partnering with them to map out a professional- development plan can drive accountability to meet these objectives.
Identifying what skills are lacking on the production floor. Use this to create a customized and skills-focused L&D program—that is aligned with team and business goals.
3. Gain Expertise in Conflict Resolution
Each team member contributes unique talents and skills to the team, but they also bring different personalities to the table.
Combining multiple personalities can shift team dynamics and sometimes lead to conflict. This isn’t at all unusual. In fact, 85% of staff members experience conflict in the workplace, making conflict nearly unavoidable. The key is understanding how to navigate and resolve conflict proactively and constructively. Otherwise, you may face turnover and a decline in team morale.
How to Execute Conflict Resolution
There are five stages of conflict resolution. Touch on each step when helping your team navigate challenges.
- Define the conflict: All production workers involved should take the time to explore the situation and precisely define the issue.
- Watch for underlying issues: Emotions and past experiences may affect judgment and conflict resolution. Address these areas first to allow space to
solve the conflict proactively productively.
- Identify needs: Give each person/party a chance to express their needs. This will help team members understand one another’s perspectives and identify possible solutions.
- Brainstorm possible solutions and goals: Production workers should brainstorm possible solutions. Encourage them to collaborate on ideas and explore realistic options.
- Agree on a solution and implement it: Team members decide on a solution and map out an action plan to implement it.
- Once you feel confident in executing your conflict- resolution skills, train your team on this to successfully navigate through conflict as well; people report that their confidence in managing conflict increases by 27% upon as a result of training.
Learn about CMOE’s Conflict and Collaboration workshop.
4. Share Relevant Company and Team Information
Here are two statistics:
- 77% of production leaders report that ineffective communication causes their company to miss deadlines.
- 68% report that ineffective communication inflates production costs.
Sharing relevant company and team information can help fill these gaps.
Think about it this way: failing to share key information will only create silos among teams and staff members and lead to a lack of trust and transparency on the production floor.
For example, a lack of communication on recent compliance updates can cause team members to overlook important areas during quality checks. This may delay production and increase costs.
Thus, the key is to make information accessible to production floor workers. After all, they are the individuals who directly contribute to or create the final product.
How to Proactively Share Information with the Floor Team
Leaders can consider the following options to share information:
- Having regular weekly team meetings to allow workers on the production floor to collectively chat through ideas and issues. Group them based on their schedules if your staff members work on different shifts.
- Conducting regular 1:1 meetings to provide individuals with the safety and platform to express concerns. Some individuals may feel uncomfortable bringing up certain information in group meetings. Thus, having 1:1 meetings provides them with additional opportunities to provide important feedback.
Keep in mind that while sharing information is important, oversharing is still a concern. Be mindful of about what you’re communicating and to whom.
For example, you would not want to share personal information about a particular staff member with the group (unless you received prior approval from that individual). Respect boundaries and confidentiality.
5. Rely on Digital Communication Tools
Digitizing communication can speed up the flow of information flow and your operation’s performance. More specifically, it can contribute to a 30% increase in productivity.
How to Execute Digital Communication Tools
Look for shop floor control (SFC) tools. SFC software allows you to collect, access, and analyze relevant data from your operations workflow. This provides real-time information you and your staff can use to take the appropriate action as a team.
Depending on the size and complexity of your production floor, keeping everyone on the same page can be challenging. Messaging apps and tools like Slack and Beekeeper can help fill this gap. Moreover, easy-to-use software applications can help bolster and encourage regular communication between all team members.
Build Mutually Beneficial Relationships with CMOE
Strong communication is the foundation of a good team and business, and requires consistent effort. Developing effective communication skills is an ongoing process.
At CMOE, we offer a Communication Skills for Leaders workshop to help leaders like you stay committed to influencing others to achieve desired results and inspire your workforce to make a lasting impact.