Charged with overseeing the operations of a plant, a plant manager spends her day juggling different responsibilities and working closely with a wide assortment of people. The best plant managers utilize a combination of manufacturing experience, attention to detail and people skills to perform effectively.
What does a plant manager do?
Plant managers are at the helm of a manufacturing or production facility, and are actively involved in daily operations as well as the company’s long-range plans. At some larger plants, they may be assigned to manage one area, but typically, they are responsible for the entire plant’s operations. The plant manager supervises all activities of that facility, which often involves overseeing team performance, expediting the receiving and shipping of goods, and ensuring efficient, organized storage. By streamlining all plant activities, this detail-oriented leader can help drive overall profitability and customer satisfaction—two of the main goals of any consumer-facing organization.
What differentiates a good plant manager from a bad one?
Not just anybody can be a successful plant manager. To truly be successful, a plant manager needs to possess a specific set of skills which will help them on the job. Here are are some of the areas great plant managers do really well.
A plant manager needs to master active listening
Organizations that improve most dramatically in this area are those that teach and practice active listening. Active listening is not exclusively hearing what the other person is saying. It is also hearing yourself and being sensitive to the signals of your own body. Understanding your listening style helps you understand the way you process information and prepare your thoughts in order to respond. Equally as important as the words you speak, your posture and behaviour should reflect your meaning.
Managing change and conflict
Change management must start with open communication. Keep team members up to date by presenting change in a clear and positive way. Explain the benefits of evolution. Invite employees to participate in planning how to navigate the changes. The best employees want ownership in their jobs, and the top companies are providing it. Most importantly, communicate and encourage progress. The most sought-after employees will gravitate toward those corporations that foster growth and development.
When it comes to managing conflict, listen with a pen, gathering details and taking notes. Ask for employees’ objective opinions and possible solutions. Then, present your position clearly and focus on developing a win-win solution. End by thanking your employees for voicing their concern.
The first 90 days of employment determine whether a new hire will remain at a company and how productive that hire will be. Ultimately, managers facilitate the success or failure of a new hire during this critical period and beyond. Countless training methodologies reinforce that an employee’s immediate supervisor sets the tone for how he or she views the company, conveying and embodying a company’s policies, culture and identity. At the end of the day, new employee orientation is only as successful as a manager’s preparation, training and understanding.
For many managers, coaching skills must be developed through management training. This training should equip managers with the ability to provide specific, consistent and timely performance-based reinforcement. Managers should be able to articulate why an employee’s performance is important for both the employee and the company, among other factors. In recognizing growth, you’re allowing for improved employee productivity. An employee’s own motivation is a powerful factor. When employees feel appreciated, heard and valued, company morale improves, which often leads to a more engaged, energized and efficient work performance. Cultivate a positive, feedback-driven culture that recognizes good work, and that is what employees will continue to deliver.
An efficient plant manager will cultivate good habits. We all have habits, and should set a goal to enhance the positive ones while replacing the negative. I encourage you to look inward and identify some of the key habits in your daily operations. Make a list, good on one side, not so good on the other. One by one, evaluate and work to improve the habits you are not so proud of.