From MAGNET: Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Talent

January 8, 2015

Each month we be feature a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org.

Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Talent

By Judith Crocker, Director of Workforce & Talent Development, MAGNET

Recent surveys of manufacturers consistently identify one of their top three priorities as workforce issues. Companies— regardless of size— recognize that a highly skilled, qualified workforce is critical to their success. Whether manufacturers are seeking to develop new products, enter new markets, or improve overall productivity, their workforce will be key to their ability to remain competitive and achieve their goals.

Companies that are successful in attracting and retaining talented people  realize they must be pro-active and become part of their workforce  solution.

Fewer young people are choosing manufacturing careers. They don’t know  the opportunities or the educational requirements.  Coupling that fact with  smaller numbers of students in high school means a smaller pool of qualified candidates for employment.

To overcome that obstacle, smart manufacturers are actively engaging with educational institutions in their communities, informing students, teachers, guidance counselors and parents about the many stable and well-paying jobs they have available.

Starting with middle school age students, these manufacturers are sending young scientists, engineers, technicians and machine operators to visit local classrooms and talk with students about their work.

Students, teachers and parents are also invited to open houses to see the inside of plants and facilities they likely drive by on a daily basis, but have no idea of what is actually taking place inside. They tour the facility, are introduced to the young professionals in the company and see for themselves what takes place at that facility.

Many manufacturers are also sponsoring teams for the FIRST Robotics or Robobot competitions giving students valuable hands-on experience and also the opportunity to work as team members with engineers, technicians, and scientists to solve technical challenges.

Promising high school students can be provided shadowing opportunities that could lead to summer work-based learning experiences and possibly part-time employment during the school year.  The students learn the company culture, its products, processes and customers and can contribute to the overall company goals.  Many students who start out as part-time workers in high school often progress to achieve consistently higher company positions, becoming supervisors, managers, and executives.

October will once again be celebrated as Manufacturing Month in Ohio. This would be an ideal time for you to start your proactive campaign to build your workforce of the future by sponsoring an event in your local community. If you start planning now, you should be able to hold a successful community event at your facilities this October.

Click here to read the original post.


Top Posts of 2014

January 6, 2015

Looking back on 2014, I thought I’d share the 10 most popular posts. Enjoy.

5 Ways to Improve Construction Productivity

Trends in Distribution and What it Means to the Distributor/Supplier Relationship

Tradesmen Take Note: Earnings by College Major Compared to Precision Machining

How will Professional Tradesmen Jobs of the Future be Filled?

Trade Shows and ROI Measurement: 5 Key Metrics

Customer Loyalty: Does it Exist Anymore?

Manufacturers: 6 Tips on How to Hire Independent Reps

B-to-B Marketers: How Many Calls Does it Take to Make a Sale?

 


Happy Holidays from Sonnhalter

December 18, 2014

The Sonnhalter team will be taking some time off over the holidays. We hope that you enjoy this holiday season and time with your family and friends!

Holiday PoemWe’ll see you in January!


Manufacturers: What are you doing to improve the customer experience?

December 16, 2014

Today more than ever, customers are expecting, and in some cases demanding, a better customer experience. These types of experiences have to start in the C suite and trickle down. The customer service department may be on the front line, but they can only mirror what management has in mind.

Do your top-level folks really understand the needs of your customers? If not, they certainly can’t help formulate or lead an initiative for a great customer experience if they don’t know what that is! I was surprised from a recent article in eMarketer that showed over 33% of senior managers weren’t aligned with the customer experience.

I think we can all agree that everyone needs to be on board to truly make the customer experience meaningful and real. For any of you who have flown Southwest or shopped in an Apple store, you know what I mean about customer service. The culture starts at the top and both of those brands know that other choices exist for their product and services.

The two takeaways I’d like to leave you with are:

  1. Listen to your customers - Find out what they want and how they want to get it.
  2. Under promise and over deliver - give them more than they ask for and make the mundane a memorable experience.

If you liked this post, you might want to read:

Customer service: What are you doing to retain customers?

Customer service: Is your company obsessed with it?


We All Have Something To Be Thankful For

November 26, 2014

469_4312814As the Thanksgiving weekend approaches, I’d like to say thanks to the many friends and clients we’ve had the good fortune to come in contact with over the years. We’re all running in several different directions all the time, and this time of year we need to slow down a bit to appreciate the things around us.

So this weekend, don’t take your briefcase home, and your emails will still be there Monday morning when you get back in the office. Recharge your batteries this weekend. Play with your kids or grandkids, visit an old friend or watch some football. We take a lot of things for granted sometimes – our Families and Friends. And no matter how screwed up our country is in Washington, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Enjoy the weekend. We can get back to the rat race next week.


Fabtech Expo Recap

November 20, 2014

Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer, Sonnhalter

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I had the opportunity to attend the Fabtech Expo in Atlanta last week. It was my second year at the show and I am continually impressed by the immensity of this industry. The expo brought together more than 27,000 attendees and 1,400 exhibitors covering more than 500,000 square feet of the Georgia World Congress Center.

Fabtech kicked off on Veterans Day and it couldn’t have been more fitting since Workshops for Warriors was selected as the recipient of the Fabtech Cares campaign. Workshops for Warriors is a wonderful organization that I had the pleasure of writing about last year in Production Machining magazine. Workshops for Warriors, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to training, certifying, and placing veterans in manufacturing careers.

It’s no secret that manufacturers are looking for new sources of talent. At the same time, many former members of our armed forces are looking for work. Workshops for Warriors combines these efforts, giving American veterans and wounded warriors the skills U.S. manufacturing employers need. Veterans who are transitioning back to civilian life provide a vastly untapped talent pool of hardworking and disciplined talent for the manufacturing industry. Fabtech hosted a panel on the first day of the show on bridging the skills gap with veterans. You can see the progress of the fundraiser (and donate) here.

Reshoring of manufacturing was definitely another popular topic. The Day One keynote actually came from Cindi Marsilgio, the VP for U.S. Manufacturing at Wal-Mart. The company has pledged to buy $250 billion of products made in the USA over ten years to encourage the creation of U.S. jobs. (You can read more about the keynote and Day One highlights on Fabtech’s blog.) When walking the show and helping out in various booths, I heard the question, “Where are your products made?” Many purchasing professionals in attendance were seeking domestically produced products to us in their own operations.

Day Two of Fabtech kicked off with four-time Super Bowl champion and Vietnam War veteran, Ricky Bleier, presenting on how attendees can be the best that they can be. Later in the day a panel was held on the industry’s outlook. You can see video and other highlights from Day Two on Fabtech’s blog.

Although I headed back to chilly Cleveland at the end of Day Two, the final day of the show was also packed with a presentation from  Google for Work’s Head of Manufacturing, Mike Walton on transforming manufacturing for the digital age. This is a very popular topic, especially with the rise of 3D printing, robotics and digital design capabilities. You can check out some video from the presentation here.

Did you attend Fabtech? What did you think of the show?


Is Listening a Lost Art?

November 18, 2014

Did you know that we spend 25 percent of our waking hours listening?

Are we making the most out of it, and what’s more important, what are we missing?

If social media hasn’t taught us anything else, its made it clear that people want to be heard. Listening makes us better people whether it’s listening to our kids, friends, coworkers or customers. We all fall prey to interrupting someone to make a point. We’re so busy thinking about what we’re going to say instead of listening to what’s being said and responding appropriately.

From a leadership point of view, listening is the most important skill a strong leader can have.

In the business world, listening spurs conversations which leads to resolutions and probably more sales. We need to make sure our salesmen and customer service folks are honing these skills.

According to an article in American Express‘ open forum, the article cites a study by the American Listening Association that only 2 percent of all professionals obtain any training to improve their listening skills.

As the landscape continues to change, prospective new customers armed with the internet and social media now are coming to the table with a whole nother set of questions which we may have to think about before we answer. Truly listening to customers can lead to more business!

Here a few listening tips:

  • Focus on what people are saying instead of formulating a response before they finish
  • Interpret what you hear
  • Clarify what you heard
  • Ask open-ended questions to engage deeper conversation
  • Validate what you heard

Just because you listen doesn’t mean you have to agree. Good listening spurs good conversations and that’s what we’re all looking for.


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