Remain Open To Suggestions

Suggestions help me do my job. Suggestions from my colleagues help me see faults in my articles that I am overlooking.

Columns From: 10/1/2007 Modern Machine Shop, ,

Suggestions help me do my job. Suggestions from my colleagues help me see faults in my articles that I am overlooking. Suggestions from readers like you clue me into topics we should cover in the magazine. Getting that feedback can be tough, however. People sometimes assume that their advice won’t be welcome.

How open are you to suggestions, particularly from your shopfloor employees? I think manufacturers that don’t provide a means for those on the shop floor to offer ideas are doing their business a disservice.

Those people are positioned to identify process bottlenecks because they work through them every day. There’s a good chance they can suggest ways that will allow them to perform their duties more efficiently. And increased employee efficiency leads to increased profits.

The two most effective ways that I’ve seen manufacturers solicit information from their shopfloor employees are regular group meetings and prominent problem/solution boards. So which method is best for your company? I suggest you consider using both. That’s because they offer a comfortable communication platform for extroverts and introverts, respectively.

Unlike introverts, extroverts thrive in situations in which ideas are freely bandied about. Daily or weekly brainstorming sessions offer the ideal environment for them to trade ideas and shape more efficient processes.

Problem/solution boards can prove more effective at receiving introverts’ input. These boards are often used in shops striving to maintain a visual workplace. A simple dry-erase board allows employees to list a problem, offer a possible solution and possibly even estimate cost versus payback for the company. It should be located in a common area so all employees can plainly see the issues that have been identified. This helps spur corrective action.

It’s important that all employees know you are open to suggestions, and also that feedback will be supplied in a timely fashion. Employees who know managers are honestly considering their opinions are more likely to offer fresh ideas on a regular basis.

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