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  The NIST Manufacturing Extension Program for Kentucky

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Are Your Work Teams Fully Effective?

 &ldquo: Assemblyline Graphic

The creation of the assembly line by Henry Ford in 1913 revolutionized the face of manufacturing.  Henry Ford is quoted as saying “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” He was just stating the age old concept of “divide and conquer”.  His work and wisdom has impacted all of us in manufacturing forever.  Unless you are a one person show or are living in the 19th century, communication and teamwork is critical to the success of your company.

Past experience shows us that effective teams can develop more creative and innovative solutions; use resources more efficiently; and improve ability to implement change.  Side benefits of effective teamwork include increasing the morale and commitment of employees. 

 &ldquo: Teamwork Graphic

Although teamwork sounds simple, and some people may have some inherent teamwork and team leadership abilities, there are many factors that can complicate effective teamwork.  As a leader of different teams for a large (fortune 100) company over many years, I often found leading the team and actually accomplishing our team goals to sometimes be challenging.  This was complicated by the fact that many of the team members came from different functional areas within the company, yet did not report directly (or indirectly) to the team leader.  I also found that every functional area seemed to have its own terms, language and perspectives on the output of the team.  Sometimes I felt like I was interpreting and translating multiple languages, terms and perspectives to the various team members.

It turns out that my troubles were not unique to me.  That means wisdom existed and still exists to address many, if not all, of these challenges.  Learning by trial-and-error can be costly when you consider the time and company resources that are put at risk. 

The challenge is how to hone and develop more effective team leaders and team members while the company operations continue in motion.  Many small, midsized and even larger manufacturers simply do not have the time, people resources, or the skills to hone and develop these traits in their workforce.  That is where Advantage Kentucky Alliance can be particularly helpful.  The Advantage Kentucky Alliance (AKA) has developed a series of workshops to help manufacturers hone and implement good teamwork skills.  The series includes workshops of Leading Teams, Effective Communication, and Leader as Coach.

Advantage Kentucky Alliance has a delivery team with over 100 combined years of teamwork experience and training in the manufacturing industry.  Take advantage of our time and resources and minimize the use of yours in this endeavor. 

 &ldquo: Snowball Graphic

One of the biggest challenges of any cross-functional team is to take action and get the ball rolling.  Waiting for the “stars to align” or the perfect time is often just another stalling technique.  Can you think of a work team at your company that could benefit from some honing? Don’t stall, have a conversation with Advantage Kentucky Alliance today.  Effective Leadership series is a good place to start moving forward with your skills development.    

Each of the Advantage Kentucky Alliance's specialists has over 25 years' experience building, cultivating, and maintaining teams in manufacturing environments. For additional information on AKA's programs regarding Communicating Effectively, Leading Teams, and Leader as Coach or other AKA programs, contact Timothy Vickers, AKA Project Manager, at (859) 236-3167, timothy.vickers@wku.edu or visit www.advantageky.org

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