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Quality Interactions Affect Quality Results

By Jill George, Ph.D.

Jill George, Ph.D

Stacks of rejected parts. Stacks and stacks. Day after day. Even in a highly automated, lean-based production environment in an operation where every nickel of spend is scrutinized, a tiny part, like a metal spring half the size of your little finger, can be misassembled and left unaddressed, creating stacks of rejected parts, which often lead to bigger, highly dreaded, customer loyalty concerns. Many manufacturing operations have their own version of “the three-cent spring” and are scrapping out product that they shouldn’t be. Why? It’s because of an over reliance on the technical side of the work (managing materials, processes, and machines) and an underutilization of “the people engine” (leadership and team member skills that drive engaged accountability, problem solving, collaboration, and continuous learning). Most production systems have outstanding technical systems, yet underutilize people systems, and are ironically increasing waste and suboptimizing innovation and production.

We call this the Ninth Form of Waste, and in a recent study by The MPI Group (2014) of over 300 plants, effective leadership interactions from “the people side” trumped technology, innovation, and data when it came to what’s critical to plant leaders’ success. Interacting with employees was rated by plant leaders by far (52 percent compared to 39 percent for the next closest area of importance, better leveraging technology) the most critical need for plants to achieve success over the next five years.

Quality Interactions Affect Quality Results

In this study, 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). The high-quality leaders spent 42 percent or more of their time in high-quality interactions versus only 20 percent of time for lower-quality leaders.

The need for high-quality interactions is a big problem that will only get bigger. Shortages in production worker technical and problem solving skills (Deloitte, 2015) will exacerbate “the three-cent spring” problem, making it challenging for leaders to effectively problem solve quality issues with their teams. Manufacturing leaders must “step up their game” to guide teams with more agility, better collaboration, and improved problem-solving skills to meet customer demands, which can change daily on today’s manufacturing lines.

Who owns the three-cent spring problem? Your production teams. Who owns the quality of your production teams? Your leaders. High-quality leader interactions are crucial to effective use of material, process, and machinery to prevent stacks of rejects and missing the boat on current and future customer loyalty and revenue.

View all five of the Plant Leadership Series Infographics.

Learn how DDI’s Manufacturing practice can help you optimize your talent for the success of your business.

Jill George, Ph.D., is DDI's Manufacturing Practice Leader.

Posted: 03 Jun, 2015,
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