Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders in the Manufacturing Enterprise

3/28/2018

How should manufacturers be preparing our next generation of leaders? Whether the consideration is internal or external resources, here are a few best practices to consider.

Is grooming the next generation of leadership critical to ongoing growth of an organization?

The next generation of leadership is a reflection of the next generation of customers. Organizations in every industry need to prepare future leaders to be business savvy, agile and innovative in order to be successful in an environment where customers have limitless choices.

What challenges do manufacturers face in 'the race for readiness?' How should they address these challenges?
In today’s environment, there is a constant push for innovation and easier processes. This need often comes from customers, but it’s important to realize that this push also comes from the workforce. The next Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders in the Manufacturing Enterprisegeneration wants to take on responsibility and advance quickly. They want a work environment that is exciting an innovative, with modern tools and processes. In industries such as manufacturing, "time" is often a requirement for gaining responsibility and advancing in the organization. Current leaders need to recognize that this new set of leaders don’t see their careers as a linear or time-based, but want new experiences and the opportunity to stretch their skills. If manufactures want to attract future generations to the industry and continue to meet their customer’s needs, it’s critical to address these needs. 

What traits should manufacturers look for in a potential leader? 
Ironically, the biggest clue is in the title of the question – potential! Great businesses are built on people. People who not only have the right skills and experience, but who have the potential to do great things in the role, the team and in the company. Couple high potential with agility, collaboration, innovation, business acumen, and customer focus and you have a perfect mix of attributes for tomorrow’s leaders. 

What types of learning and development activities are most effective in developing leaders?
Experience, collaboration, and interaction with others are all critical. Classroom training is helpful, but will not create leaders.  Individuals become leaders through practice. Knowing the business is important but in order to challenge existing paradigms, you often have to consider introducing new talent from outside your organization and your industry. As a leader, it is critical you are open and ready for these changes and you offer your employees the opportunity to develop their leadership muscle. 

What other advice would you have for manufacturers in the race for talent?
The manufacturing industry is changing rapidly. More workers are retiring than entering the workforce. Considering this unique challenge, it can be helpful to collaborate with others in the industry to learn more about different talent management practices. 

It’s also important to consider how you can grow your current talent. Talk to your Managers and Supervisors about their ‘up and coming’ talent early and often, use behavioral interviewing to bring in great high potential future leaders and tools such as 9 box grids to identify who you’re up and coming rock stars are within the organization.

With the right tools and mindset, the manufacturing industry can face this challenge head on. By preparing the next generation of leaders, manufacturers can be ready for the next generation of customers. 

Posted by Jignasha Amin Grooms

Jignasha Amin Grooms is Chief Human Resources Officer at Epicor. With more than eighteen years of experience in the IT industry, both in business/sales operations and human resources, she leads global HR efforts for Epicor.

 

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