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Investment Pays Off When Developing Labor Skills

To succeed in the competition to hire and retain the most engaged employees, you must invest in their training. An easy-to-use leadership skills development app for that is coming soon.

The app’s process flow shows the path of how a trainee becomes qualified in a certain skill.
The app’s process flow shows the path of how a trainee becomes qualified in a certain skill.
FSO Institute

Do you sometimes wonder why your newly promoted supervisors are not nearly as successful as they were in their prior positions? It’s typically because technicians or operators are promoted to higher-level roles with little training or preparation for their new jobs. Many times, consumer product goods (CPG) manufacturers promote competent, hourly, shop floor staff to salaried supervisor or team lead positions. The promoted workers often struggle with their new roles because they are not fully prepared. No one has ever taught them leadership, servant leadership, or employee engagement skills.

The FSO Institute is putting the final touches on a new app to address staffing challenges like these and help CPGs train their employees on skill characteristics included in PMMI’s OpX Leadership Network’s Workforce Engagement Model. The FSO Leadership Development App accelerates the effectiveness of newly appointed supervisors and targets plant operations and mid-level staff by validating their skills and qualifying them for numerous attributes contained in the app that can be chosen by leadership. For example, skills include accountability, decision-making, taking action, systematic thinking, and adaptability.

   Download the OpX Leadership Network's Workforce Engagement product.

The new app is designed to be used by supervisors or first-level plant management but could also be applicable to higher- or lower-level jobs. It is targeted at small to mid-size companies that need assistance in training employees to succeed at the first and second levels of manufacturing management positions.

Supervisors or first-level managers are busy on the plant floor and often do not have time to spend on training. The app provides a simple and easy way for newly promoted employees to interact with a mentor. App users get qualified on leadership improvement activities approved by a mentor, who can coach them in the right direction and help them apply their skills.

Increase skills and plant floor efficiency

CPGs should select five to six skill characteristics that are critical for leadership roles in their current environment. They can select these from 47 characteristics in the OpX Workforce Engagement Model. CPGs then determine mentors for each of those characteristics. 

The app lets mentors know they now have a trainee working with them. Then, a survey is conducted with the trainee. Each chosen skill characteristic has three questions associated with it. The trainee then takes a survey on the app with questions such as “Does the trainee perform a job function: hardly ever, sometimes, or most of the time?” That result automatically goes to the mentor.

The trainee also selects a peer subordinate, and all three of them—trainee, mentor, and peer—take the same survey about the trainee. If there’s a three-way match concluding that the trainee performs the skill most of the time, they are considered qualified for that skill. 

If the trainee is not qualified for the skill, the FSO app includes an introductory course for each of the 47 skill characteristics. CPGs also have the option to put their own courses in the app.

If the trainee is unsure how to proceed with a certain skill, they can work with their mentor. In addition, the trainee is asked to write three examples to show proficiency in the assigned skill. Providing three examples of proficiency helps the trainee reinforce the skill. Mentors then approve the three skill examples or reject those that need more work.

To help trainees, the app provides examples of good and poor submissions. Once all three trainee examples are accepted by the mentor, the trainee becomes qualified in that skill characteristic. For example, if the CPG decides that a trainee must be qualified in five skill characteristics, the trainee must submit 15 examples of where they have excelled.

Trainees using the app are asked to submit examples to mentors on how they can become more engaged employees.Trainees using the app are asked to submit examples to mentors on how they can become more engaged employees.FSO Institute

The app delivers reminders to keep trainees on track timewise, but each CPG can determine its own timing and customized reminder messages. CPGs can expect to see first-level managers become savvy in leading shop floor employees and helping them to become more engaged. When employees are engaged, plant floor production is streamlined.

The app also encourages personal interaction. It is a great way to attract Millennials to food manufacturing careers. While Millennials love to use apps, CPGs also need to ensure they are talking to coworkers and developing those relationships.

The app is designed to help frontline supervisors get the skills they need to empower plant floor operators. The easy-to-use app promotes repetitive learning that will stay with the employees while also facilitating supervisor interaction with a mentor. Users may access the app on a phone, tablet, workstation, or computer.

Developing muscle memory

A baseball player doesn’t swing a bat for the first time when he’s playing in a game. He’s done it thousands of times before and developed muscle memory. All he must think about to be successful is making slight modifications to his swing. The FSO app encourages the same type of learning. 

As app users successfully pass assigned skill characteristics, they bring those enhanced skills to their jobs and should be able to apply them in various production situations. 

Making the right investment in employee engagement is one of the most critical decisions you can make to ensure employee retainment and operational excellence. 

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