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Differentiate Your
Manufacturing Business
with a Talent Strategy

A Leader’s Guide to Manufacturing 4.0

The full report A Leader’s Guide to Manufacturing 4.0 contains 4 strategies, 20 actionable steps, supportive examples, global insights, and more to support businesses in the manufacturing industry to thrive in the new Manufacturing 4.0 era where transformation is the key to success.

STRATEGY #1: Expand your focus from product-only to talent

You can’t keep throwing dollars at new—new product features, new applications, new technologies. By the time your customers have access to your many product-related innovations, your competition has caught up and commoditized your “new” into “so what.”

If you accept that you can’t out-digitize or out-widgetize your competitors, then you need a new point of differentiation—one that is sustainable. Your talent, both leaders and workforce, is the singular value-add differentiator that customers will recognize, value, and pay a premium for.

More and more, consumer preferences and purchasing habits are driving mass individualization. Yes, a highly responsive production line is critical, but so is the talent that can connect with the hearts and minds of the customer. Innovation is meaningless if not connected to the end-user. Thus, to create a customer-connected culture, you need an engagement-building talent strategy, which is fully integrated with your business and puts a premium on high-quality skills and interactions for both leaders and your workforce.

One critical step to create a talent strategy that produces engaged employees and leaders that are connected to your customers is to engage key stakeholders and create accountability.

Accountability for engagement and skills acquisition is key to transformation, but often gets lost in organizations’ day-to-day struggles for survival. Weaving together accountability for building the culture (the WHATs) and for demonstrating the desired behaviors necessary to get it done (the HOWs) ensure that changes will stick. Tying both to performance objectives supports further follow-through.

Successful transformation is also dependent upon commitment from senior executives, and collaboration and cooperation between them and HR. This table clarifies what each must do to be successful.

Shifting requirements for manufacturing workers

What Executives Must Do Well What HR Must Do Well
Make talent/culture a top-five objective in your organizational strategy. Contribute data relevant to challenges, and develop recommendations to overcome challenges and gaps.
Prioritize geographic regions, functions, and units to drive best results based on business requirements. Develop communications for the plan that connect to the business case and build confidence in execution.
Use mission-critical and high potential leaders to shape and architect the three-year plan. Promote success stories to line leaders, to celebrate progress and reinforce desired behaviors.
Assign accountability for the plan and the measurement of results to line executives, not sub-teams, task forces, or HR. Include objectives for executing the plan and for demonstrating effective behaviors as part of leaders’ performance objectives.
Leverage a dashboard to determine how far, how fast. Create a dashboard of outcomes and results that measures change progress.

A Leader’s Guide to Manufacturing 4.0
A Leader’s Guide to Manufacturing 4.0
Four talent strategies to transform your organization for the future.


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