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Interact, Don’t Manage

The DDI Plant Leadership five-part series presents findings from the MPI Manufacturing Study, including survey questions developed exclusively for Development Dimensions International that focus on plant leadership and talent development.

Interact, Don’t Manage: What trumps technology, innovation, and data when it comes to what’s critical to plant leaders’ success? Interacting with employees.

Automation and technology have dramatically changed the manufacturing landscape. Manufacturing jobs have evolved, too, for team members and plant managers. Today’s leaders just guide teams with more agility, better collaboration, and improved problem-solving skills to meet customer demands.

Minds are replacing muscle, and manufacturers are focused on improvement:

  • Three-quarters of executives say that process improvement is important to their plant’s success over the next five years
  • 71 percent have a continuous-improvement program in place
  • 66 percent follow a lean manufacturing approach1
  • The percentage of manufacturing employees with graduate degrees rose by 19 percent between 2000 and 2012.2

Workers with more technical expertise require leaders who can create an engaging environment—and are capable of creating a vision and coaching for success.

Not surprisingly, plants where the quality of leadership is “very good” or “excellent” spend far more time in high-quality interactions with employees (coaching, influencing, team-building) than in managing tasks (planning, coordinating, decision-making). Check out the differences between plants at both ends of the leadership spectrum:

  • Very good or excellent leaders: 42 percent more time in high-quality interactions.
  • Poor, fair, or good leaders: 20 percent more time in high-quality interactions.

Quality leadership engages employees and drives better results (stay turned to this DDI series for the dramatic results that quality leadership can deliver).

What are you doing to develop leaders at all levels with the skills to coach, influence, engage—and drive high performance in the new manufacturing economy? The MPI Manufacturing Study was conducted by the Manufacturing Performance Institute (part of the MPI Group) in November and December 2014.

The MPI Manufacturing Study was conducted by the Manufacturing Performance Institute (part of the MPI Group) in November and December 2014. The MPI Group received study responses from 319 manufacturing plants, encompassing a range of industries (e.g., 17% computer and electronic products, 14% fabricated metal products, 11% machinery, 10% chemical) and sizes (31% with fewer than 50 employees and 17% with 500 or more employees).

1 2014 MPI Manufacturing Study, The MPI Group, February 2015.
2 Mark Levinson, Congressional Research Service, June 2013.

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