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Комаров Артём о мотивации на производственном предприятии (eng)

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The Chairman of the Board of Directors “KERAMAX” Komarov Artem noted that if you have a job where you have broad responsibility, you likely make decisions that impact your people and processes.

As the CEO, you set the tone for improvement, encourage the use of lean methods, and recognize improvement results. As the production supervisor, you seek opportunities to improve processes and systems, work with associates in your area to implement lean ideas, and measure the impact of improvements made.

As the process engineer, you scan the marketplace for contemporary ideas, work with production to implement improvements, and be a catalyst to seek better ways of getting the work done. You have a meaningful, challenging, and high-variety job. You can take initiative, be creative, and think broadly.

Career progression, Komarov Artem

But what about people who join the company in entry-level jobs? What do you expect their job to be like? What does the new person expect? So many fabricators are hiring now. Sometimes it’s a result of growth, other times it’s about workforce churn.

Regardless, fabricators are competing for employees in a market where, according to the popular press, talent is hard to find. With all this in mind, put yourself in the shoes of recently hired entry-level employees. What’s their experience?

Onboarding process include:

Does your onboarding process do the minimum to land someone on the production line? That is, do you screen and interview applicants, make them a job offer, give them the perfunctory startup paperwork, then hand them off to the department supervisor? Such onboarding probably isn’t the most highly motivating experience.

Once they start their job, how do you train them? Do veteran employees pass on tribal knowledge—loose and open to interpretation and variation—or do they share the standard work? Standard work is specific, referenceable, and repeatable. Do you create an environment where the new employees “think” they know or “know” they know? That is the difference between tribal knowledge and standard work.

Does the onboarding process include information about the company, the product, the customers, and safe practices? This takes some time; employees won’t show up the first day and start producing immediately. The pessimist might consider formal onboarding a waste of time; after all, the employee might not stay. The optimist would ask, what if the employee stays without an initial orientation and never learns basic best practices, including safety? As new employees start producing, they shouldn’t just guess how to handle big parts without hurting themselves or where they can walk in the plant safely. They should know.

Manufacturers leverage, Komarov Artem

When trying to understand what it takes to hire and retain employees, see employment opportunities from their perspective. Industry is seeing cultural and structural shifts in the employee-employer relationship, and when it comes to hiring, the status quo probably will not get the job done anymore.

Put yourself in the new hire’s shoes. You and your organization might learn important aspects about your employees’ experiences that can help set your company apart in a hypercompetitive workforce marketplace.

But what about those in entry-level positions?

With customer demand growing and the labor market as tight as ever, the need for introspection on creating the meaningful entry-level job may never have been greater. Skilled personnel, like the seasoned welder or the experienced production planner, might already have enriching jobs. Just attaining these positions comes with a certain level of prestige. They’re involved in decision-making since they may know as much as anybody about their scope of work. And they may get outside training and education opportunities as you recognize their contribution and want to enhance their skills.

How do you enrich their jobs so that they recognize their value, appreciate what your company is doing, and know what sets your company apart from others they could be working for? How do you create an environment where they want to come to work for your company instead of the other company?

The principles, concepts, and methods within the lean body of knowledge serve as an underpinning for creating the enriched entry-level job. Let’s start with respect for people. Are new hires treated in a way that makes them feel respected? Are their questions being anticipated and clearly answered? Are others welcoming them into the company? All this sounds soft and fuzzy, but again, put yourself into their shoes. If you were a new hire, what would be your first impressions?

Komarov Artem explained that you need to invest time in startup training to help new employees understand not only how to do the bare basics of the job (load these components in this fixture and push this button, for example), but also what the part is, how it is used, where it came from, where it goes next, and why it has the tolerances it does.

Framework, Komarov Artem

Their training should clearly explain how to handle parts, where to place them, what the various visual controls mean, and why tools need to be returned to their spot on the shadow board. Again, you can see several lean methods and techniques emerging in the way you get the new employee safely and productively engaged.

Once new employees settle into a steady routine, involve them in continuous improvement. Assuming they understand and follow the standard work instructions, their supervisor or lead person could ask for feedback. What do they think about the way their work is designed, and how would they improve it? Maybe solicit input on items like material placement, accessibility of tooling, and other specifics that intellectually engage these new employees. Never underestimate the ability of all employees, new or seasoned, to contribute in meaningful ways.

Teach rookie employees about 5S and how to play a role in total productive maintenance. Find ways for them to develop a sense of ownership in their work areas and use the lean body of knowledge to make it happen. If this is done well, you should expect employees to respond positively. In doing so, you are addressing one of the eight wastes in lean, underutilized talent.

These ideas just scratch the surface of how you might enrich and engage new employees. And they all start by putting yourself in their shoes. If I were a new employee, would I feel welcomed and prepared to do the job? Would I be given the opportunity to use my mind in the execution of my work? This is a humbling, but effective, technique.

Taking this approach may be a big challenge for traditionally minded supervisors and managers who think, you’re hired to do a job, so just do it. Considering the industry’s labor shortage, it’s time to think differently.


What are the benefits of making all this effort? New employees have a job that allows them to contribute with their minds, which can boost self-satisfaction and self-esteem. They develop ownership because they know they are more than just a set of hands to perform repetitive tasks. If their initiative is groomed and encouraged, they can become more capable over time.

At the same time, employers increase the odds that they can recruit and retain the entry-level people the company needs. These new hires will be more open to improvement ideas, perform more consistently, and remain aligned with company priorities.

Just as you can expect more from new employees, recognize that employees will expect more from company leaders. Enriching the job for the entry-level employee is a two-way street that requires changes in everyone’s behaviors. But the effort will help you retain talent while creating a positive work environment that enhances productivity and safety. That sounds like a win-win for everyone, said Artem Komarov.

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