Integrating your Manufacturing Team

Integrating your Manufacturing Team

Sometimes if feels like our warehouse and office staff exist in two completely different companies. What can we do to create a more unified experience and integrated culture?

Even for groups that sit down the hall from each other, it can feel daunting to build a shared identity. Bridging that gap for units that perform vastly different work or operate from remote locations brings additional challenges. But it’s not impossible to align your teams under one common umbrella; here’s a few of the strategies that have proven successful for the Best Workplaces.

Be Fair.

If you don’t want an ‘us’ and ‘them’ culture, be conscious of the differences in perks and benefits available to each group, no matter how subtle those differences might be. We’re not suggesting a cookie cutter approach but you do need to demonstrate a core commitment to fairness.

At Rittal Systems, they don't play favorites, and there are no executive perks.  All programs and policies apply to all members of the team equally.  This means the President travels in economy with the team and if the parking lot is full, the President parks in the back!  It also means that everyone has access to the same health and wellness benefits program.

Get to Know Each Other.

Bridge the gap by assigning work that requires increased integration; cross-functional teams are one way to do this and often produce a deeper level of mutual respect and understanding. Another option is to create horizontal opportunities for learning – something like a ‘ride along’ where your office staff spends a day or more working alongside their frontline colleagues.

Timing is Everything.

Timing is one of the challenges leaders inevitably cite when trying to integrate manufacturing and office teams. If your production team can’t stop long enough to attend key meetings, there is bound to be some feelings of alienation. To combat this, Kicking Horse Coffee does a full production stop for two hours during the All Staff meetings (once per month). These sessions are rich with information and metrics that cultivate a deeper understanding of how each person and team fits into the company’s overall success. It’s also an opportunity to nurture cross functional friendships.

Keep the Communication Flowing

Use technology to keep the communication flowing between groups. There are plenty of online collaboration tools that will help you bridge the gap and get people talking. Lots of companies are using the crowd sourcing concept to allow grass roots ideas or suggestions bubble up from all areas of the company. This can also be used to ensure all groups are consulted before any big decision is made.

If you’d like more ideas or additional support to bridge the gap in your organization, we’d love to help.

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