Managing Talent in an Evolving Manufacturing World

The manufacturing industry is continual evolving due to globalization, technological changes, desire for more profitability, and efficiency in competition. These changes have created the need to review how manufacturing companies manage their employees.  The traditional approach was concerned with only three aspects with linear relationships:  Acquire, Engage, and Retain.  The current generation of workers and the evolving manufacturing industry trend has made the tradition approach of talent management become less effective.

For example, many manufacturing companies have downsized their workforce through voluntary exits, but at the same time they continue the difficult task of hiring very skilled labor.  As technology improves and the manufacturing process becomes more complex, more and more highly skill workers are needed.  Since they are in high demand, the good ones will tend to possess certain qualifications that will enable them excel in their career. These workers are usually well trained, highly skilled, capable of complex trouble shooting, flexible and able to solving problems under minimal supervision.

After the competitive task of acquiring these people is complete, many manufacturing companies are faced with the dilemma of how to manage them.  Many graduates who possess the above qualities belong to Generation Y.  These are people born in early 1980s to early 1990s.  They tend to be technologically savvy, versatile and would work in a company for only a few years before moving on to another. This is due to their life experiences and aspirations in life e.g. rise to senior level within a short time.  This is unlike the traditional workers who are mostly content with their positions and can work for many years expecting a promotion.

Manufacturing companies are seeing the need to shift their style of talent management.  One of the new approaches to talent management that should embraced to ensure their survival in the highly competitive world is the “holistic model”.  This model encompasses three major interlocked aspects in addition to the previous three.  These are Develop, Deploy and Connectwith a strong emphasis on capability, commitment, performance, and alignment.  The aspect of connect is important because the Generation Y employees want to  work beyond the functional boundaries, they need to be involved in initiatives such as Total Production Maintenance, lean manufacturing , six sigma, supply chain optimization , global sourcing and complex product launches.  These initiatives may go far outside the scope of the job description they were hired to do initially.  To attract and retain the required talent, the work schedule need to be flexible, concepts such as telecommuting should be embraced so that some functions can be done at home, and the work environment needs to be tech- savvy.

In conclusion, as the manufacturing industries aim for global expansion, profitability growth, and productivity improvement; the significance of talent management will continue to increase in future because of the scarcity of the talents and aggressive competition among the manufacturing industries globally and within your tightening competitive sphere.

Have you noticed any generational differences in employees that you’ve found interesting or enlightening?

by:  Anjela Mangrum, CPC

Anjela Mangrum is the founder of Mangrum Career Solutions Inc.  MCS partners with industrial and machining manufacturing businesses to source and secure mid-to-upper level talent for operations, supply chain, and engineering positions.  They work to empower individual job seekers by helping them gain a competitive edge in their job search. For hiring needs contact Anjela at 513.753.3813 x101.

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