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Motivate Shop Floor Workers

Here are some tips for ways to boost commitment from your production line operators.

Looking for more effective ways to motivate your operational personnel? One piece of advice comes from Andy Chatha, president of Dedham, Mass.-based ARC Advisory Group.

Convert everything into dollars and cents, Chatha advised during a presentation at the ARC Strategy Forum, Jan. 26-29, in Orlando, Fla. Instead of saying that a production line has capacity to produce X pounds of product per hour, for example, tell workers that the line has capacity to produce X dollars of profit per hour. When production metrics are stated in these terms, “it becomes much easier for your employees to see what kind of impact their efforts are having,” Chatha said.

Chatha’s comments came during a presentation on real-time performance management, which focuses on the integration of real-time production data with financial data to enable more effective decision making.

Forget vision, talk WIIFM

Additional advice came later in the session from Walt Staehle, director of manufacturing execution and shop floor information systems at Kraft Foods, Northfield, Ill., who was also a speaker at the Forum. During a question and answer session, Staehle was asked his advice on overcoming resistance to change, and to the adoption of new work practices on the plant floor.

“One of the things that we’ve found to be successful is being able to describe what we call the WIIFM—What’s in it for me?” Staehle responded. When companies articulate change, they often talk in terms of a vision, a mission and corporate values, he noted. But for employees on the production line, the most important thing to communicate is—“Here’s what we’re doing, here’s why we’re doing it and here’s your role in it,” Staehle advised.

“You have to spend a lot of time taking folks through, describing their role, why it’s important to them, and probably more importantly, giving them a stake in the outcome,” Staehle told Forum attendees. “Make sure they understand what you’re doing and why, their role in it, and award them appropriately when they achieve success.”

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