Manufacturing companies require an increasingly skilled and complex workforce to keep pace with rapid growth and evolving technologies. As that workforce evolves, cooperation and collaboration decline and productivity suffers.
These pitfalls are confirmed in research from the Harvard Business Review. The HBR report reveals that as skillsets become more complex, teams are less likely to work effectively together. The qualities that make these highly-educated groups successful, also inhibit relationships and cooperation.
According to HBR, modern teams made of highly-skilled individuals share these characteristics:
- Less likely to share knowledge freely
- Less likely to share workloads
- Less flexible
- Less likely to feel part of a team
<br\>For most of recent history, corporations have primarily used an authoritative framework. The Boss makes decisions and employees carry it out. For a long time, this was seen as the only way to do things.
Research and empirical results have begun to sway even the staidest, traditional companies in the direction of increased collaboration and input from their employees. Authoritative frameworks may be the norm, but they no longer dominate the realm of accepted best practices. With an increasingly skilled and technologically-savvy workforce, employers must embrace the opportunities afforded by a collaborative framework.
Manufacturers with the foresight to build collaborative frameworks will create opportunities for:
- More efficiency
- Better alignment of human and business objectives
- Better morale
- More engagement in tasks and projects
- More efficient distribution of information
- Increased cooperation toward individual and team goals
Achieving Better Collaboration in Manufacturing Teams
There are many paths to implementing an effective framework for collaboration. In many cases, human resources departments are (time permitting) more than capable of managing these processes. Larger teams may require outside consultants, particularly when it comes to collaborative skills training.
Leadership must model collaborative behavior
One of the essential factors in fostering collaboration is an investment in the process by the company’s managers and executives. Not only must leadership be engaged in the process, they must model best-practices and lead coalitions within the company to engage employees in every department.
Train employees in communication and collaborative skills
None of this is to say people aren’t becoming worse at collaboration necessarily. As manufacturers require more advanced skillsets, education and training in communication and cooperation become less of a priority. Organizations who want to see the benefits of improved collaboration need to invest in skills training, whether in-house or outsourced, to ensure your employees have the tools they need to succeed.
Use software and mobile technology to connect teams in different areas
As we covered in our recent post on social media within the workplace, technology affords numerous opportunities to improve teamwork. From task-sharing tools like Trello, to chat platforms like Slack and WhatsApp (what we use here at Purple Tree), there a variety of tools available to you. The biggest pitfall to adopting new collaborative technologies is implementing new tools too quickly. It takes time to onboard new software and train employees to be productive with mobile apps. Start with small steps and involve employees from every level in the planning process. Leverage well-connected individuals within the company to act as ambassadors for your new processes and connect teams around common goals.
How would you rate the level of collaboration and cooperation in your workforce? Let us know in the comments below.