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How to Build a High-Performing Manufacturing Team

While high-tech, modern machinery has the potential to help businesses achieve increased productivity, that potential will not be realized without a knowledgeable and committed workforce to operate the equipment. Here are 4 ways to build such a team.

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
 5 min read
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Staying competitive in the fast-paced and competitive manufacturing industry necessitates ongoing investment in strategies that both increase productivity and bolster efficiency. While high-tech, modern machinery has the potential to help businesses achieve increased productivity, that potential will not be realized without a knowledgeable and committed workforce to operate the equipment. Having a manufacturing team that’s not only skillful but also works and communicates well together helps engineering companies achieve their business goals. 

Teams with exceptional performance generally have the following characteristics:

  1. They are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their field(s) of work.
  2. Team members communicate and collaborate efficiently.
  3. There is strong team chemistry and mutual respect among team leaders and team members.
  4. The team members share common goals and visions for the company.
  5. They prosper under strong and engaging leadership.

Teams do not become high-performing units overnight. It is up to the company’s executive leadership to continuously water the seeds to create the roots for such a team. As the seeds grow into blossoming plants, the company must continue to nurture and support the team to ensure that the team's success becomes embedded permanently in the company culture and the success of the business. This article will review the ingredients necessary to build a high-performing team that elevates a company from “good enough”  to “the best.”

Taking the steps to build a high-performing team can be a challenge. Here are 4 ways to grow one:

1. Prioritize Effective and Open Communication

Communication issues often arise from a failure to listen, or because people make incorrect assumptions. A simple misunderstanding could lead to either financial loss, unmet customer needs, or both. Often, team members are reluctant to voice their concerns, thoughts, and opinions because they feel vulnerable or are fearful of being reprimanded. Therefore, those in leadership positions should work to ensure that team members are comfortable with their position and responsibilities and that their concerns are heard. This can be accomplished by conducting regular meetings where leaders can check in with their teams. 

In these meetings, leaders and peers can provide feedback and allow members to speak openly without judgment. Such meetings can be extremely beneficial for a team, so long as both leaders and team members are fully engaged in the conversation. To achieve this, leaders must learn to provide constructive and positive feedback to employees and assure them that their opinions are valued, no matter the differences. While it won’t happen overnight, continually working on developing these open channels of communication and emphasizing their importance to the team will eventually translate to seamless, open, and effective communication.

2. Establish Positive Feedback as a Foundation of the Team’s Culture

Providing positive and constructive feedback can be a powerful tool to allow team members to maintain their motivation and boost their self-confidence in their roles. It’s a way to recognize and commend team members for their accomplishments and achievements. Alternatively, it can be a way to help educate employees and realign them with the team’s goals by critiquing their work and actions, not their character. Ideally, this should be feedback that is kind, honest, focuses on forwarding movement, and done privately.

The ability to provide feedback to team members without judgment, like effective communication, is paramount to having a highly-effective and communicative team. Likewise, team members should feel comfortable enough to provide feedback to their supervisors or peers, as well. By providing everyone regular feedback on the quality of their work and its relation to the end goal, a company will be taking an important step toward having a high-performing team.

3. Emphasize the Value of Learning

Change is inevitable. This is doubly true in the world of manufacturing. The implementation of new machinery and technology creates new challenges that demand the best efforts of a high-performing team. Continuous training and a good learning environment help companies to build teams that can efficiently master new equipment and methods, successfully propelling their businesses into the future. By fostering a culture that emphasizes the value of learning, the skill and knowledge gaps between team members gradually shrink. This leads to a more competent team capable of handling a variety of challenges. To accomplish this, companies should invest in continuous education for employees - whether by providing on-the-job training, e-learning, or in-person classes.

4. Set SMART Goals

Setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) for your team members can be an excellent way to motivate and energize them. When clear, attainable goals are set at the beginning of a project, team members know exactly what to work toward, and how successfully meeting those goals will translate to business success. Having regular check-ins where leaders can review objective progress and team members can provide input and feedback goes a long way towards achieving a high-performing team.

Having a high-performing team is one way a company can strengthen its manufacturing competitiveness. Growing such a team is no easy feat, though. It takes constant training and support to create and sustain excellent teams. However, once that team is built, it could be what separates a merely “good” manufacturer from the top-tier ones. Contact a Xometry expert today to discuss how we can assist you to create a high-performing manufacturing team.

Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.