Understanding how to create an employee development plan can be difficult if your company is not striving towards constant improvement. Guest speaker Jess Giudici is back with the MakingChips team to discuss the importance of taking the time to focus on each employee’s goals and dreams and how to foster alignment between their goals and your company’s vision. Developing your team can help you better understand why people leave your company and why they stay. Listen to this episode for insightful advice on how to best strategize your development plan and build an ever-improving team!
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While a lot of people look at employee development as getting someone to the next level or role in a company, Jess encourages business leaders to view their development plan as a tool to foster continual growth in the individual. A good strategy is to diversify the development process. Don’t make your development plan entirely made up of formal meetings between you and the employee. While you should have planned discussions with documented goals and deadlines to meet those goals, you should also make an effort to informally engage in conversation on the floor. Learn about who they are and what they want from life, from work, from their skill-set. Jim and Jess agree that having a standard set of questions and procedures as a base to employee development is an excellent place to start - but allow space in the personal conversations you have as well. Documenting the conversations you have can help clarify future meetings, goal-making, and accountability.
Each person is unique and will be motivated in different ways. The goal should be to align the skills that a person is motivated to learn and their aspirations with the goals and vision of the company. Ask your employees what they are passionate about. Ask what they find challenging in work and how you can help them overcome those challenges.
What if someone doesn’t want to “move up the ladder” and take on leadership? Jess says that such an answer is perfectly okay - as long as your company can sustain the current position. The goal is to engage with your employees and make sure that they are feeling fulfilled in their positions.
Annual reviews are often a combination of performance review and pay review. Jess suggests that the two be separated and discussed independently of one another. While the pay may be influenced by performance, excellent performance doesn’t always mean a raise in salary. The focus should be on the employee, not the pay. This elevates the importance of performance and sends the message that you care about how the employee is doing and feeling in his or her job.
When dealing with individuals who feel they should be paid more while being allowed to stay in their current skill-set and position, Jess encourages company leaders to be frank and honest about the company’s expectations and salary caps. Supporting your employees is key, but be clear about the policies. Listen to the entire episode for more advice on how to evaluate your employee performance and foster a thriving company culture!
Understanding and evaluating retention and attrition can be confusing. Jess explains that employees leave for a wide variety of reasons, and you shouldn’t be surprised when you hear that someone is leaving your team. If you are surprised, then something probably went wrong in the development process. You should be self-evaluating your company’s processes to make sure you are doing your best at developing your employees and the company’s goals. Jess suggests having interviews with people who are leaving - as well as with people who love their work and want to stay long-term. Understanding why people want to stay can help you understand why some people may not be a good fit and want to go.
Creating a company culture where everyone has a voice is vital to a thriving and happy atmosphere and excellent work ethic. Jason points out that a great culture comes from truly loving and caring about the business and the people who work it. Jess reminds leaders to understand who they are as an employer and to take the time to understand their employees’ voice.
Streamlining and optimizing your company’s hiring and onboarding processes can be difficult and sometimes daunting. Hosts Jim Carr and Jason Zenger bring helpful and common questions to the table with guest speaker Jessica Giudici - manager of organizational development at Smalley. Jess gives practical and engaging advice on how to approach your hiring process and create efficient, job-unique procedures for finding the best individuals for your company’s needs. Learn how staying true to your company’s vision and values can help save you time in the hiring process on this episode of the MakingChips podcast!
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Where should manufacturing leaders start when assessing their company’s hiring process? Jess emphasizes that understanding who you are as a company is key. Branding isn’t just something that you talk about with the marketing team; who you are should permeate everything you do, including hiring and onboarding. Identify and establish who you are as an employer. What is your commitment to your employees and team members? Jess explains that when you understand who you are as a company and employer, it helps narrow down who you want to join your team and who will make a good fit.
Recognizing your identity is just the first step. The next is understanding who your audience is when marketing an open position. A cookie cutter approach to hiring won’t attract the unique candidates that you want to see applying for your specific job opportunities. From there, you can hone down which platform you will use to market the job. After you have identified who it is you need - and for what job - you need to walk through what the first conversation will look like. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and think about what they will find and feel when they walk through the door at the first meeting. Are your processes outdated? Is it all paper and work? Is it boring? Think again about who you are as a company and create an atmosphere that highlights your strengths, values, and vision.
Jess discusses why speed to hire must be executed within the framework of quality over quantity. You don’t need 10 or 20 candidates; you need one excellent candidate. Create an interview process for your company that focuses on finding the right fit. Jim and Jason agree, saying that making sure the candidate is aligned with your core values is essential. Jess recommends training your hiring managers to effectively engage the candidate and to listen to the entire team’s perceptions. She discourages the 2 on 1 interview, explaining that it is needlessly intimidating to the candidate, and it is easy for the emphasis of the interview to shift from the candidate to the communication between interviewers. To learn more about the best practices for interviewing and whether or not money should be discussed in the process, listen to the full episode!
Having an optimized onboarding process is just as important as having solid hiring procedures. Jess recommends walking through the goals and desired impressions of the onboarding experience. She reveals that it only takes about 45 days for a new employee to decide whether or not they wish to stay with a company long-term or begin looking for new opportunities. The first few months are vital! Training your leadership on how to engage effectively with new recruits will quicken learning and make for a positive experience for all participants. The focus should be on creating an environment in which the new employee can thrive as a learner. For more excellent tips on how to streamline your manufacturing company’s hiring and onboarding processes, listen to the entire episode! Jim and Jason encourage you to not become overwhelmed but to take things one step at a time, leading to effective success.
The word is out - the economy is changing, and you should probably start planning for a recession. MakingChips hosts Jason Zenger and Jim Carr help take the intimidation out of a looming recessional period by offering some practical advice based on their own personal experiences with leading manufacturing businesses during economic recessions. Learn how you can get a head start in your business and personal life by making just a few - and not too frightening - changes to your company’s lifestyle in this important episode of the MakingChips podcast!
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Jim and Jason explain that recessions in the economy are inevitable. While we can’t ever know for sure when or how harshly recessions will hit, we can take steps to prepare for the strike. There are difficulties in every season of the economy - even in the good times. Recessions simply provide a different set of challenges that can be weathered more effectively by those who plan accordingly. Jim and Jason point out that the manufacturing economy is at a booming national high, which makes now the perfect time to save and plan for a dive.
A looming recession raises numerous questions on how to best manage company and personal finances. Jim and Jason give helpful starting points for long-term effectiveness, beginning with the important step of keeping your debt low and under control. The probability of needing to cut job margins is high, and there will not be as much room in the profit margin to play with. Keeping debt thin will leave more room for necessary funding. Saving money is also vital. Jim and Jason recommend bulking up the savings account to create a buffer for yourself and your company for when times get tight. Saving now can help counter the possible need to cut employment levels. A third way you can take precautions now is to be prudent with your company and personal spending. Determine what you can cut out of your business and personal spending and make a budget. Learn how sacrificing now can save you later by listening to the full episode!
Don’t leave your employees and team members in the dark on what is happening in the economy and of the changes that you will likely need to make in your business when the recession hits. Encourage your team to not overextend themselves and to prepare themselves. Build up morale by explaining the cyclical nature of the economy. Recessions don’t last forever! Give them tools to help them prepare (such as this podcast!). Refrain from purchasing new machinery leading up to the recession and during. Invest in your current machinery by making necessary repairs and keeping up on maintenance. Today’s machinery will be tomorrow’s money-makers. Invest now while you have the monetary means.
Jim and Jason point out that opportunity is available in every season of the economy. Diversify your customer base now so that when things get rough, your company’s well-being won’t be compromised by the collapse of just one or two of your clients. Not all of your customers will be affected by the recession in the same way. When the recession does hit, don’t sit back and wait it out. Look for ways to build your business by observing what is available when other companies are struggling. An example Jim and Jason give is acquiring your competition’s businesses or bringing them onto your team. Look for ways you can help yourself by helping others. For more tips and tricks on how to lessen the pain of a recession and effectively prepare your manufacturing business for the coming times, listen to the full episode!
In this episode of MakingChips, Jason Zenger and Jim Carr introduce a new team member, Christine Schmitz - an experienced editor and writer who explains why storytelling matters to manufacturers and their businesses. Having long been connected to the manufacturing world through her husband, Dr. Tony Schmitz (featured in a previous episode), Christine has an intensely valuable viewpoint on how and why it is important for leaders to be able to tell good stories. “Communications is the foundation of who I am,” Christine shares. To communicate well, one must build relationship, and relationship is founded in the sharing of stories. Want to know what makes a great story and how knowing how to write one can boost your game in the manufacturing business? Listen to the whole episode!
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Just as in manufacturing, there is a process of writing a good story. Christine shares the process of how to take your story and vision and work it into a compelling and useful tool.
Christine points out that most people only think of themselves when communicating. To build a lasting and effective relationship, however, one must think of the other person - in this case, the manufacturing leader must think of his or her business, employees, customers, and possible recruits. All of these categories are readers of your story who want to know, “What’s in it for me?” It can often be difficult for manufacturers to share the story of their work, the challenge of their highly technical fields, or the processes they use. Christine reveals that relevance is key to building the bridge between writer and reader. “When it’s hard to explain what you are doing to another person,” she explains, “it dramatically impacts the relationship you can have with them.” To learn how to best create a shared vision through your story, listen to the full episode!
Tailoring your message to your audience is vital for the survival of your story. But how should you convey your manufacturing story to capture your audience? Christine points out that manufacturing is something that permeates everybody’s lives. Manufacturers produce something tangible every day, whereas most other people do not. People want to know how and why you create the things you do - as long as the application applies to them. Your audience wants to know what the problem is that you solve and how and why you solve that problem. Connect yourself with your audience by concentrating your story on the end result of your work.
Christine warns against the temptation to simply flood your readers and audience with information that they may not be interested in or need. Always take quality over quantity. One way you can ensure the quality of your writing is through an editor. While your professional expertise is needed to correctly tell the story, an editor can help you build the strongest and most effective bridge between your story and your audience. Also, realize that there is no one way to write. Find a process that works for you and don’t be afraid to change that process when it’s not working. To learn more about writing as a process and why storytelling matters to your manufacturing business and skillset, listen to the full episode!