The second “P” people is hard to improve. Largely, that’s because you are trying to improve something that is not entirely controllable or infallible. Improving the people who are part of your organization is critically important to saving time, money, and effort, however. So, it’s worth your time to look at.

There’s Not an Easy Answer

Again, improving people is not easy. This is also because “process”, and “people” are uniquely tied together. You can’t have a process without a person (or people) to dream it up, and you can’t implement that process without a person entering at some point. So, the first step to improving people is to make sure those two elements are tied together even more. That starts with getting buy-in on the process.

Get People in on the Process

Buy-in is a buzz word usually reserved for the marketing world, but in this case getting your people to buy into the process is extremely important. If they don’t believe that the process steps they are taking are important, then they might not do them.

The first step to increasing buy-in of a process is knowledge. You must increase knowledge of why a process is in place and why it is important. That starts from the first day they walk into their job. Making sure your manuals and educational materials are up to date certainly helps in this. You can also use a walk-through of the process, noting examples of what happens if a process breaks down or a step is missed somewhere.

The second is listening. Not your people listening, but managers, and engineers listening. The people who put the processes in place work with them every day, and will know where there are holes, slow-downs, and issues. Listen to what they have to say and adjust those processes if needed.

Getting the Right People in the Right Places

One thing is for certain there will always be human error when people are involved. Sometimes this can actually be a good thing. After all, several scientific discoveries were realized because of human error. However, in a manufacturing plant this could spell disaster. How, then to prevent the bulk of human error in a manufacturing setting?

There are two schools of thought to decreasing human error: getting the right people in the right places and automating your processes.

Since we’re talking about improving people, rather than replacing them, we’ll discuss the first option. Getting the right people in the right places can be tricky, but is one of the best ways to reduce human error in a cost-effective manner.

In order to get the right people in the right places, you need to first observe their performance. Supervisors and Managers should know the performance of their people well. However, more observation may be needed before any decision is made. If you observe that someone is not performing well, ask why. Is it a question of knowledge, buy-in, or is the process broken somewhere? It could also be that the person is having an off-day. Humans, again, are not infallible and we are largely ruled by our moods and emotions. So, before you judge performance based on one observation, try observing multiple times and look for patterns.

This process may take a while to implement, but it’s important to making sure you are drawing the correct conclusions from your observations.

Another thing you can do get people in the right places is to make sure you have solid hiring practices in place. Knowledge tests, multiple rounds of interviews, and even personality tests can help you improve this area.

People Are Still Needed

Whatever you decide to implement, remember that people are still a large part of bringing a product to life on the manufacturing floor. Improve this “P” with care and forethought and your manufacturing process will be more productive, efficient, and cost-effective.