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5 Things Leaders Can Learn From Factory Workers

5 Things Leaders Can Learn From Factory Workers
Andreas Slotosch
Andreas Slotosch, Chief Growth Officer
3 min read
Today leadership lessons are often learned in business books or conferences, far away from where actual work happens. Often the best leadership lessons can be found right under our noses, in the factories our employees run every day. Where better to learn from than the front lines? Here are 5 ways factory workers show their leadership skills every day.

1. No work is beneath you.

On the floor, workers follow the mantra of, “Whatever it takes.” No one person is above a task because once that attitude begins to spread, no one is not willing to do the dirty work. Too often in management, leaders shift responsibility or blame employees working underneath them when they don’t want to deal with an issue. This sets a bad example and shows other employees that such an attitude is acceptable. The best managers lead from the front and show their team they’re willing to do anything to accomplish tasks and meet goals.

2. Health and safety are essential.

The highest health and safety standards are the hallmarks of any productive factory. Anything less is unacceptable and can put workers in danger. People in leadership positions often miss out on this lesson and work themselves to the bone, and even burn out eventually. Ignoring your health by not exercising or sleeping well might work in the short run, but won't work in the long run.

3. Trust boosts team productivity.

When working in a factory, each member of the team must completely trust each other. In many cases they place the productivity of the factory and their own health in the hands of other people on floor. Working with the fear that other factory workers are irresponsible or that the company doesn’t take their health seriously prevents a factory from flourishing. Managers sometimes use control to sure their employees are getting the job done, when trusting them would better foster team productivity and employee engagement. The Harvard Business Review has even found that factory workers who feel they are being monitored regularly feel “exposed and vulnerable.”

4. The team is bigger than the individual.

If a factory worker gets a big head and starts working on his own accord, the whole operation on the floor can fall apart. A factory cannot efficiently operate without unity. Michele Ferrera, who ran the company that makes Nutella for over 50 years, understood this idea implicitly. He provided his employee's bus service to work, free medical care, and other benefits because he knew his factory workers were the key to his business. His workers believed in the company mission so much that when a Nutella factory in Alba, Italy flooded, workers repaired so quickly it was up and running 15 days later.

5. Lack of team communication breeds chaos.

When factory workers don’t talk on the floor, bad things can happen, like quotas not being met or someone getting hurt. As a leader, responsive team communication keeps your workforce productive and motivated, and boosts employee engagement as well. Responses to employees are better handled within minutes, not hours. Internal communications truly must be a two-way street in order for your employees to feel heard and stay engaged. At Beekeeper, we created our app for the blue collar worker to promote effective internal communications and ensure every worker is heard.

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