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3 Timeless Attributes of Successful Plant Managers

3 Timeless Attributes of Successful Plant Managers

August 2023


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You’ve got the right person in the right ‘seat,’ on the right ‘bus.’ Now what? 

We’ve identified three crucial skills that consistently contribute to a plant manager’s success, regardless of generational shifts, economic fluctuations, and changes in upper leadership. 

1. Active Listening

For companies that suspect they have personnel issues but cannot identify a root cause, the problem often boils down to communication breakdowns. The organizations that see the most dramatic improvements in this area are those that teach and practice active listening.  

Active listening involves more than just hearing what the other person is saying. It also includes being aware of your own thoughts and being sensitive to your body’s signals. Understanding your listening style can help you process information and prepare your thoughts for a response. Equally as important as the words you speak, your posture and behavior should reflect your intended meaning. 

You might be wondering, “Why should I prioritize listening over other daily tasks?” The answer is simple: at least half of all communication time is spent listening. In fact, experts assert that people spend more time listening than any other activity, except for breathing. 

2. Employee Coaching

It’s a simple truth — low confidence translates into low achievement, while high confidence translates into high achievement. Building this confidence is the ultimate objective of effective employee coaching. 

In a survey of U.S. hourly employees and salaried managers, participants were asked to rank various work factors in order of importance. Managers ranked good wages, job security, and promotion/growth as their top three work factors, while employees ranked full appreciation for work done, feeling “in” on things, and sympathetic understanding of personal problems as their top three considerations. The results stress employees’ desire and need for positive performance recognition, ongoing coaching, and the importance of expressing care and concern for those on the team. 

In recognizing growth, you’re allowing for improved employee productivity. An employee’s own motivation is a powerful factor. When employees feel appreciated, heard, and valued, company morale improves, which often leads to a more engaged, energized, and efficient work performance. Cultivate a positive, feedback-driven culture that recognizes good work, and that is what employees will continue to deliver. 

3. Managing Change and Conflict 

Change and conflict are natural parts of the human condition, but the way you respond to and manage their dynamics will determine the success of your team.  

Change management must start with open communication. Keep team members up to date by presenting change in a clear and positive way. Explain the benefits of evolution. Invite employees to participate in planning how to navigate the changes. The best employees want ownership of their jobs, and the top companies are providing it. Most importantly, communicate and encourage progress. The most sought-after employees will gravitate toward those corporations that foster growth and development. 

When it comes to managing conflict, listen with a pen, gather details, and take notes. Ask for employees’ objective opinions and possible solutions. Then, present your position clearly and focus on developing a win-win solution. End by thanking your employees for voicing their concerns. The last thing you want to do is discourage future communication. 

Training Is Key

From conflict to communication to coaching, a manager’s skills must be ever-evolving. The key ingredient is training. Good leaders and managers are rarely born; they’re developed.  

Effective managers are crucial for building and maintaining a strong team. People don’t leave bad companies; they leave bad managers. This turnover is costly, especially in the manufacturing sector, which saw a turnover rate of more than 35% in 2022.  

By investing in training that will grow your managers, your culture, and your team, you ultimately will be growing your employee retention, your recruitment, and your bottom line. 

About the Author

Shelly Perkins serves as a Director at Stanton Chase Nashville. With over 20 years of professional experience, Shelly has dedicated much of her career to talent optimization and leadership development. 

Prior to joining Stanton Chase, Shelly led a career consulting and business coaching practice for 12 years. This practice focused on accelerating transformation for organizations across a variety of industries, including healthcare, hotel, manufacturing, retail, and commercial services. 

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