Manufacturing Leadership Traits to Overcome a Crisis

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For most manufacturers, the business environment has been fraught with uncertainty over the last several years. The Great Recession between 2007 and 2009 was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. It was also a leadership test for manufacturing companies, which experienced a massive decline in demand, significant disruption of supply chains, loss of workforce, and other challenges.

Just when the economy had started to stabilize, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Manufacturing companies have been grappling with the impact of the pandemic ever since. There is no question that this is an extremely challenging time for companies in all industries.

While every business is unique, business leaders can take similar steps to address this unprecedented situation. This blog discusses how manufacturing leaders can successfully lead their organizations through complex challenges while simultaneously positioning their businesses for future growth. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Communicate Effectively

The first step in overcoming any crisis is effective communication between leaders and employees. Leaders should discuss business operations with their employees, explaining how the business will continue to operate and be affected by changing circumstances. Through effective communication, leaders should also outline the roles essential for on-site operations and specify which roles may work from home. They should also discuss the measures being taken to protect employees working on-site.

Similarly, leaders should ensure that they have an open and honest dialogue with their supply chain partners, outlining any changes they have made to their operations and whether they foresee any major problems shortly.

Communicate with Transparency

Transparency is the key during times like these. Your employees need to know what to expect regarding their paychecks and jobs, even if you don’t have all the answers just yet. Keeping your employees updated as things change will empower them to take care of themselves and their families while still feeling confident in their roles at work.

Also, try to encourage cross-functional collaboration as this helps boost morale in the firm. Now is the time for your team members to work together across functions and departments rather than silos that may have existed before the pandemic hit. Create a forum where team members can share ideas.

Always Keep Calm

In any crisis, it is critical to set an example for your employees. It’s natural in these situations to feel fear and uncertainty, but it’s important not to let those feelings affect how you communicate. You should be open with your team about the challenges ahead but maintain a positive outlook that reinforces the idea that you will get through this together.

An engineer at work

High EQ and Clarity

In this competitive landscape, decision-makers must make tough choices about operations, employees, and the future direction of their companies. Navigating the choppy waters today requires vastly different qualities from those that served leaders well during times of steady growth or relative calm. Effective leaders can navigate turbulent times by focusing on their workforce and supporting them through a crisis with a collaborative approach.

Be Collaborative

Under an authoritative leadership style, leaders make decisions without seeking input from others. Such leaders are decisive and firm but not necessarily wise or successful. They may make hasty decisions that can turn out to be catastrophic in the long run.

A better approach is to involve your team in decision-making whenever possible. Share decision-making responsibilities with your team members so that you can benefit from their expertise and experience. Involving everyone also makes them feel responsible for the consequences of the decisions taken by them.

Engineers at work

Have a Winning Mentality

Whether they’re dealing with increased global competition, new technology, or shifts in consumer demand, manufacturing leaders must be able to adapt and evolve their organizations to meet these challenges. They need to know how to lead through a crisis and the importance of having an up-to-date strategic business plan.

In today’s market, manufacturers have three options. They can innovate and adapt to changing industry conditions, outright purchase another company that has already adapted, or try to survive with their existing manufacturing business model. This last option will almost certainly result in failure and lack of growth for your business. An effective leader strives to expand  their organization. This could mean building a new product line or service, expanding into new markets, or diversifying your customer base.

Embrace Innovation

Leaders need to embrace innovation if they want their business to survive a crisis such as COVID-19. They need to adopt the latest tools, such as rapid prototyping and FEA analysis, to make informed decisions. One wrong move could sink the whole company. Prototypes also help businesses to keep up with the changing demands of consumers during this time of uncertainty.

Be Flexible

It’s important to be flexible as we face this evolving situation because nothing is certain at this point. If a new challenge comes up, don’t get caught up in doing things the way they’ve always done. Instead, think of new ways to address the problem at hand. There may be unexpected opportunities that come out of the crisis — be ready to pivot.

Have Empathy

Focus on employee well-being first. The safety and health of your employees should be at the forefront of your mind during this time of crisis. It’s important to maintain clear communication about what to expect based on trends and news reports, as well as keeping employees informed about any changes within the business.

Manufacturing leaders must manage the crisis and take a series of actions to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees, customers, shareholders, and other stakeholders.

Engineers at work in a factory

Get the Best Mechanical Design Services

The pandemic has tested manufacturing leaders like never before. Leaders need to have wisdom, patience, empathy, and resilience to take the right course of action during this time of great uncertainty.

Connekt LLC can be your partner in this difficult time and help you optimize your products and processes affordably. Our services include 3D printing, plastic injection molding, electro-mechanical packaging design, FEA consulting, and other engineering-related services to help make your product in Northern California a resounding success. Check out our portfolio here.

Contact us today for more details.

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