Friday, July 25, 2014

Henry Ford and the Power of Internal Communication in Manufacturing

henry ford
“Coming together is beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”– Henry Ford.

Henry Ford rose to prominence over 100 years ago, but this quote still resonates with manufacturers today. Organizations maximize success when everyone on the team is working together. Companies can only strengthen their workforce by improving their internal communication skills.

The importance of internal communication is sometimes overlooked in manufacturing. This might be attributed to our industry’s emphasis on “hard skills.” If you are unfamiliar with the term, hard skills tend to be more quantifiable, technical skills. Your ability to operate a specific machine would fall under the hard skills category… you can measure how quickly and accurately you produce parts from a machine. Soft skills are harder to assess. Communication, motivation and teamwork are categorized as soft skills; they’re more subjective and difficult to measure.

However, positive internal communication is the basis to virtually all company improvement initiatives. Think about some key areas for improving your business such as Lean Six Sigma and achieving ISO Certifications. What do they have in common? Internal communication and teamwork either play a vital role, or are required components to successful implementation.

Here are some ways that your company can improve internal communication:

  1. Sometimes it’s better to avoid technology: Technology helps facilitate communication, but shouldn’t replace personal interaction. Miti Ampoma, author of The Innovation Communicator, captures this thought: “We have a fundamental need still to communicate face to face, through language and speech, an authentic experience many people crave for in a business world of increasingly soulless emails, multiple electronic devices and voice activated speech. Devices alone make us more connected than ever, but not to each other.”

  1. Note all areas of communication during conversation: An article in Forbes by Amy Rees Anderson about business communication relayed some tips from expert Dr. John Lund. Lund says that when we’re communicating, “we interpret messages based on the following three things: 55% is based on facial expressions and body language, 37% is based on the tone of someone’s voice and only 8% is based on the words someone says.”

  1. Communicate throughout all levels of the company: Although there needs to be a respected management system within your organization, communication shouldn’t be a one-way street. All of your employees should feel your business is a safe environment for feedback, ideas and communication.

Improved communication can have a positive impact on your company. Venchurs Inc. is a mid-sized company based out of Adrian, Michigan. The company implemented an initiative to communicate their long-term strategic plan throughout all levels of the business. As a result, the organization enhanced customer retention and increased new sales. Click here to read more.



For more information about how MMTC can assist your company, please contact us at 888-414-6682 or via email at inquiry@mmtc.org.

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Michigan Labor Shortage: A Crossroad or Roundabout?

Perhaps now, more than at any time in recent history, all eyes are on manufacturing and the economy. Particularly in Michigan where conversations concerning talent gaps, labor shortages and a living wage are a common occurrence.

Is there really a labor shortage or are companies just not willing to pay for the skills they want?

With advances in automation, are there still opportunities for unskilled labor? If not, how do we bridge the [perceived] talent gap and raise skill levels to get people back to work or keep people on the job?

How do we dispel the myth or fulfill the need?

If we are at a crossroad, you may expend a lot of energy tackling whichever side of the issue you uphold. If you believe the talent gap is real, you’ll be hard at work identifying the latest technologies and getting ahead of new innovations in materials and processes to identify and train for those skills. If you believe it has more to do with employers inability or unwillingness to pay for the desired skill-sets, you might focus on emphasizing the cost of recruiting & assimilating new hires, highlight the benefit of experience when it comes to problem solving and engineering details, or help companies remove excess cost and operational waste so there is additional profit available to add incentives or raise wages.

You’ll inevitably run up against those who are coming at the issue from the opposite spectrum and you may end up in a traffic jam, both sides so focused on its own agenda that no one gets anywhere.

It’s a fairly complex issue because I’m sure that there is a little truth in every argument. For every unemployed person looking for work, there are those with decades of talent and experience and those with very little. For every company willing and able to offer jobs that reward that expertise, there are others limping along and just as in need of talent and skills, but only capable of paying industry minimums. With new technologies and industry standards calling for process improvements, light weighting and the development of advance materials, there are opportunities for those with today’s skills to combine it with computer, electronics, and/or design skills to enhance their skill-set and boost their demand in today’s job market.


If we consider the opportunities facing Michigan as if we’re at a roundabout . . . might it be possible then, to continue to tackle this issue on many fronts, until we see progress. Ideally, the right talent, with the right technology, at a fair wage, making the right products, will lead to a more prosperous and steady economy.

Recent legislation on its way to the White House, reauthorizes and streamlines federal job training programs. This bill authorizes $58 billion in federal workforce development programs over 6 years.

The State of Michigan has robust tools at Pure Michigan Talent Connect including job fairs, career explorers, the MAT2 program, and other initiatives to put workers and Veterans back to work. Michigan Works! Associations across the state cultivate professional development opportunities with local community colleges and businesses to get you linked to the right skills quickly. Our own product offerings include CEUs that can help with professional development. A complete list of MMTC services can be found online.
  
While the hotly contested debate rages and more and more voices are added to the mix, it’s important to step away from the rhetoric and look at the fundamental question. Where do we go from here?

What do you think?

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Spotlight on Michigan and Growth for Manufacturers


michigan manufacturing
Have you noticed that Michigan manufacturing has been in the news? U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker recently named Southeast Michigan as one of the nation’s top “manufacturing communities.” The region will receive assistance to attract global organizations into the area. And just this week, Industry Week named Michigan in its list of the Top 10 U.S. Manufacturing Hubs. From local publications to the national stage, a spotlight is being shone on the Michigan comeback.

Not to boast, but these types of recognitions don’t come as a shock to us…we’re the leaders of American manufacturing. But as U.S. manufacturing continues to improve and grow, it’s great to see that the world is learning the benefits of working with Michigan such as:

  • Convenient Location: We’re considered to be a part of the Great Lakes Region, American Midwest and sometimes the Rust Belt. Our prime location and strong network of transportation enables us to easily partner with businesses all around the U.S. and Canada, our top exporting partner. Bridges, railways and airports make us a trading machine.
  • Robust Workforce: Michigan is home to one of the most talented and skilled workforces in the country. This is because of our strong cultural connection to manufacturing…we live, breathe and eat the industry!
  • Diversity in Suppliers: From automobiles and delicious cherries to aerospace components and furniture, Michigan’s companies manufacture it all. Our diverse range of companies makes Michigan an optimal supply chain destination.

Above all else, Michigan will continue its comeback because of our commitment to growth. We don’t accept the status quo here – we’re always looking to become more innovative. Now that we’ve passed the Fourth of July and hit the second half of the year, it’s a good time to evaluate our companies for growth opportunities. Consider the following three areas:

1) Marketing: Increasing sales and expanding into new markets should always be a high priority. When was the last time you updated your website? Have you explored using social media for your company yet? Leveraging technology in your favor can help your business generate new leads and boost revenue. (Click here to learn more about MMTC’s website effectiveness services.)

2) Exporting: 95% of the world’s customers live outside the U.S. If you’re not exporting, you may be missing out on a lot of potential for growth. Consider embracing exporting as a viable business opportunity.

3) New Product / Part Developments: Diversifying your customer base can help your company become more profitable. Gain a competitive advantage by introducing new products or parts into the market.

We’re confident that there will be many more stories about Michigan manufacturing in the news. With a dedication to growth and the benefits that Michigan has to offer, we will continue to lead the way!

For more information about MMTC’s business development and growth services, click here or call 888-414-6682.

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.