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How to Cultivate Strong Leaders Within Your Facility

By Intertek Alchemy   |   

Cultivating strong leaders within your organization is crucial to meeting goals related to production, efficiency, and employee retention. However, the ability to lead effectively is not a trait someone is born with, it is a skill that must be learned, and can be continuously honed and improved. Through a structured leadership training program and investing in your own team, you can establish a positive work culture, create a resilient workforce, and reduce turnover.

So, let’s dive into what it means to be a leader and how we can structure an effective leadership development program!

Leadership Framework

There are a lot of different qualities that go into being a leader but at the center, a leader is someone who listens to understand, communicates effectively, and empowers their team. In manufacturing, new leaders are often thrown into their position very quickly. One day, they’re out on the floor with everybody else and the next day, they’re suddenly their leader. A shift in mindset is required when going from peer to supervisor. 

Effective leadership training is what helps them prepare for the mindset shift and excel in their new leadership position. Your leadership development program can provide the framework needed for them to succeed and continuously improve. This can include introducing soft skills and hard skills at the very beginning.

Soft skills include:

  • Integrity
  • Dependability
  • Effective communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Adaptability

Hard skills include:

  • Bilingual or multilingual
  • Database management
  • Product knowledge
  • Software suite

Sharing these competencies from the very beginning of hiring provides a roadmap for both potential and current leaders to follow as they progress in their roles. If your team knows what skills are needed to be a leader, they are more likely to be promoted and rewarded.

Putting People First

Cultivating strong leaders within your facility starts with your work culture. This work culture should be one that prioritizes your people above all else — valuing their feedback, providing them with what they need to be successful at their jobs, and creating new opportunities for growth along the way. 

Some generalized tips for developing your people:

  • Give frequent reinforcement and immediate constructive feedback to learners as they try out new skills.
  • Use mistakes as a learning opportunity. Learn and grow from the experience.
  • Coach learners as they try a new skill.
  • Model new skills or behaviors in your own work.
  • Evaluate learners’ performance.
  • Succession planning and cross training are important elements of moving leaders up the ladder.

Another key element in all of this is to implement an action plan. Review action plans with all supervisors and align on timelines. These action plans can serve as a monitoring tool to gauge the process and troubleshoot any problems. They will also allow you to provide constructive feedback to learners and utilize routine supervisory meetings to share feedback. You should also ask your team what you can do as their supervisor to support the transfer of learning. Then lastly, you can review action plans as necessary adapting to the changing needs of your worksite.  

Structuring Your Leadership Development Program

Leadership training programs should be tailored to the learning styles and preferences of your organization. Leveraging technology through online courses is the most convenient way to administer training on a large scale. Intertek Alchemy offers leadership courses specific to manufacturing that can transform your supervisors into successful leaders. Through dozens of modules, the library covers 21 people skills essential for success as a leaders, including Building Trust, Providing Feedback, and Difficult Conversations.

One effective way to structure your leadership development program is to take a level approach to your online courses. This means setting up courses based on levels, starting with the very basics then getting more advanced. As the learner passes through each level, they will understand how everything ties together. After they’ve completed every level set up for them, you can follow up individually to ensure comprehension.

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