Manufacturing companies understand the importance of lean manufacturing, making the manufacturing process more efficient and faster; but you do not want to focus overly much on the technical aspects of the transition and ignore the people-related ones.
People who are stubborn and do not want to switch to lean manufacturing can pose a challenge but knowing how to manage that stubbornness can ease the transition.
Evaluate Where in the Organization These Employees Are
Start by thinking about where in your company the difficult employees are. Anyone from the front line of workers to senior leadership may not want to see changes to how the company uses steel and aluminum, but where they sit in the company affects their influence.
Unfortunately, senior leadership has a very high amount of leverage. Not only are they responsible for decisions, but they will also likely influence what other employees think.
Middle management and supervisors will still have a direct impact and heavy influence, although not as strong.
While front-line workers have less overall influence, that influence is profound. If they disagree with the transition, they can challenge and encourage their coworkers to do the same.
Talk to Employees to Find Out What’s Really Going On
Take the time to talk to the stubborn employees, no matter their location in their company’s hierarchy.
Understand Their Perspective
Ask them why they are hesitant to adopt lean manufacturing. This is your chance to learn and understand their perspective. The employees in question may misunderstand what lean manufacturing entails, or maybe they just don’t want to experience disruptions in their daily routines.
Keep the Conversation Going
Then, you can continue the conversation with education and training about changes to steel and aluminum processes. In many cases, when employees simply understand lean manufacturing better it is enough to get them on board.
Show the Employees the Difference
You will want to show employees why lean manufacturing makes sense for your company. This should involve physically showing them the lean processes in action and presenting data and specific analytics related to its effects. Which of those you focus on will likely depend on the person’s role in the company and their reasons for hesitating.
Get Them Involved
If you get your employees involved in the transition, they will adopt lean principles. They will feel as if their concerns are heard and have an influence. Being part of the process may also help convince them of the benefits of lean manufacturing.
Give Them Time to Adjust
You also need to remember that not everyone will adapt to changes overnight. For those who have worked with steel and aluminum for decades, the switch to lean manufacturing and transformation in this manufacturing industry may seem overwhelming at first. Over time, they should become more comfortable with it.
You can’t expect everyone in the company to react well to a change in how manufacturing is done, but you can help those resistant to change overcome that resistance.
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