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Leveraging HR as Partner or Anticipator Yields Better Results

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.

Leveraging HR as Partner or Anticipator Yields Better Results: Plant leaders who work with HR as “Partner” or

Plant leaders who work with HR as Partner or Anticipator develop quality leaders and achieve better results. Plant leaders know exactly how to use their quality, safety, engineering, maintenance, and finance leaders to achieve bottom-line results. But they often neglect to use HR leaders to achieve performance results, limiting their contribution to largely administrative tasks.

More than two-thirds of plants with good or excellent leaders describe the role of HR as either “Partner" (e.g., HR openly exchanges information about current talent issues and collaboratively works toward mutual goals) or “Anticipator" (e.g., HR uses analytics/data to predict talent gaps in advance and provides insights about how talent quality relates to business goals). This is quite different from plants with lower quality leaders—poor leaders (22 percent), fair leaders (24 percent), and good leaders (50 percent)—that describe the role of HR as Partner or Anticipator.

Plants with excellent leaders who use HR as a Partner or Anticipator create a powerful competitive advantage. These plants are more likely to adopt strategic HR initiatives and:

  • Formalize training programs: 92 percent have a formal employee training program vs. 64 percent of other plants.
  • Train at significant levels to achieve an advantage: 73 percent train more than 20 hours vs. 47 percent of other plants.
  • Develop high quality leaders: 77 percent have a leadership/supervisor development program vs. 61 percent of other plants.
  • Empower workers for high-performance work environments: 56 percent have a majority of their production workers in empowered or self-directed teams vs. 36 percent of other plants.
  • Promote teaming: 62 percent have team-building programs/practices vs. 42 percent of other plants.
  • Get more from their plants: $200,000 sales per employee (median) and 15 inventory turns (median) per year vs. $178,571 sales per employee and 12 turns per year.

Manufacturing is simultaneously becoming more complex in the face of mega trends and booming at the same time—which means manufacturers with HR in a “reactive mode” are more at risk of having their production strategy outpace their people strategy and, therefore, risk achieving world-class results. What can you do to leverage HR as more of an Anticipator than a Reactor? How well does your HR staff drive your business?

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).

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