Changes in the production process in an innovative company
03 september 2018 | By Daniëlle van der Wiel - Operations manager Comfoor B.V.
Changes in the world follow each other faster and faster. These developments offer opportunities for each company, but innovation is key. Innovation by application of new technologies, the development of new products, but also innovation in work processes. The need to innovate exists across all departments in a company and the ability to innovate continuously is a critical success factor to succeed as a company. Especially for a market leader in order to stay ahead. At the same time, it is important that as a company you remain close to your core values, that you remain yourself. Innovate and at the same time retain your identity. How do you go about that in the production process and what does it ultimately yield?
Each and every organization benefits from a streamlined and versatile production process. It secures quicker resolution of bottlenecks in the production process, a shortening of delivery times and the development of new products and solutions for customers. Production must be leading to achieve this and the employees at the production department are an important key. Perhaps even the most important. Satisfied and committed employees are more productive and valuable for the organization. But how do you make that happen?
For starters it needs adjustments of the organizational model. Research shows that employees are more productive when they are more directly involved in decision-making processes. An organization with few management layers in-between employees and managers can contribute to this. When the staff in the workplace gains more responsibility and the intermediary layer coaches them, comments and feedback reach all the personnel involved in a decision much faster. This increases the efficiency of the production process. A flat or horizontal organization model thus stimulates the involvement of the employees.
Self-reliance in short means ‘the ability of people to save themselves, with the least possible support and the ability to deal with changing circumstances efficiently and effectively’. Team members who are self-reliant and independent take up their duties and responsibilities, empower the team and ensure that they hardly need any guidance. By increasing the self-reliance of production employees in an organization, a greater sense of responsibility arises, and they will act accordingly. They are motivated to perform their duties and responsibilities and have a high self-resolution capacity. They are also capable of reaching mutual agreements, can look at themselves in a positive way and are open to change or improvement.
The advantage of self-reliant employees is that managers can focus on the long term, the mission and the vision. You can leave the operational state of affairs to your team members. The team also functions better, because it is self-correcting. Managers can delegate tasks more easily and let go, because there is a mutual trust that tasks are performed properly. All in all, this increases the intrinsic motivation among employees. There is more passion, pleasure, job satisfaction and self-confidence.
Another important element in the renewal of the production process is trust in the ability to self-manage and the investment in self-reliance among employees and managers. If managers rely on the ability of the employees to self-manage, they can let go of the principles of conducting and controlling and move on to the principles of delegation and support. If employees rely on their ability to self-manage, they no longer have to depend on systems and managers. Self-management works if everyone mutually trusts that it leads to more fun and productive working.
"Freedom with commitment!"
Self-steering, a nice phrase that is not always clear to everyone. Guidance and direction are always required. So it does not mean that you can do what you want, but that you assess together what is needed and that everyone - according to their own abilities - can make a contribution. It is important that all those involved remain alert and critical, ask questions about why and how and -above all - continue to think innovatively.
In order to be successful, it is necessary that self-management is carried out at all levels: self-managing individuals, self-managing teams and self-managing organization / management. The self-managing individuals ensure the connection between the teams. Self-managing managers engage in the dialogue with the self-managing teams and thus make the connection between the ideas, interests and needs of the employees and the strategy of the company.
An important condition in developing self-reliance and self-management within the teams is the correct style of management. Coaching leadership is an essential process in delegating tasks and responsibilities, developing and motivating employees. The goal is ultimately to make employees task-based. A task-trained employee has the knowledge, confidence, experience and motivation to take on tasks. The responsibility for production will than increasingly lie at the production level in the organization.
Based on the knowledge, experience and motivation of the employee, the coaching manager gives a lot or little support and guidance and focuses more on the tasks or on the relationship with the employee. It is therefore important that the competence and willingness of the employee is correctly assessed, so that the right form of coaching can be implemented.
Ideas from employees
Listening to the employees in an organization highly contributes to the involvement of the people in the organization. An innovative organization with a clear mission and vision offers room for creativity among employees. By challenging employees to come up with ideas, listening carefully and giving all employees a voice with regards to improvements in the production process, the product or new applications and markets, you increase the involvement. This way employees are given the opportunity to contribute in the realization of the business goals with their own insights and experience.
Self-management, self-reliance and coaching leadership do not come about easily. It is important to constantly train people throughout the organization to deal with innovations, to gain new knowledge and to learn new sets of skills in order to increase the knowledge of the entire process. This not only leads to self-management, self-reliance and coaching managers, but also to new improvement ideas!
Innovation is crucial for a healthy, growing and progressive company. The above-mentioned measures lead to greater efficiency in the production process (both in terms of the use of people and the use of materials), a higher delivery reliability with lower inventories, a shortening of delivery times, better cooperation between departments and an increase in the employability of staff members. Increasing self-reliance in the workplace, deploying coaching managers and self-management and short lines in the organization make behavioural change and improvement processes more successful. This ultimately leads to improvement of the production department and the organization in general. That's what we do at Comfoor. We keep our innovative eye on the future and continue to make steps forward.