A resource from the leaders in simulation training.

Greetings, Troubleshooters, and welcome back to Troubleshooting Thursdays! Thanks for following along as we continue our series on leadership development. Last week we looked at what leadership is and why manufacturers should be cultivating leaders at all levels in their organization. Today we want to explore leadership development strategies you can use for developing leaders among your existing maintenance staff.

There is a ton of excellent information on leadership development programs and strategies out there, and we don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Instead, we want to look at staff development from another angle—how upskilling your manufacturing maintenance staff contributes to leadership development and can be incorporated into your overall leadership development program.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other…” These may be the most famous words John F. Kennedy never said. (He was due to deliver them in a speech on November 22, 1963, the day he was assassinated in Dallas.)  But the point is well taken: learning and leadership go hand in hand. Leaders at all levels need to remain open to the benefits of ongoing learning; at the same time, learning and training can help develop new leaders.

Training and upskilling your manufacturing staff has a vast number of advantages, which we’ve discussed in other posts. Investing in an employee’s skills has a wealth of benefits for the employee, including better workplace engagement, job satisfaction, a sense of moving along their desired career trajectory, and a greater sense of job security because by investing in the employee, the company has tangibly demonstrated that it values them. All of these factors also have an important benefit for the company: they reduce staff churn (turnover), and can save your organization a lot of money.

But the right kind of training can also help build leadership skills, such as confidence. Confidence is a hallmark trait of leaders. You can help cultivate leaders among your staff by boosting the confidence of those who may not necessarily be natural leaders. 

Properly trained staff are, above all, confident. They know their job inside out, they do it well, and they are respected for it. In the manufacturing setting, maintenance professionals who are well trained to systematically diagnose and repair electrical faults in production line equipment save their companies untold sums by keeping downtime, accidents, and injuries to a bare minimum. Confident troubleshooters can take on leadership roles by mentoring new staff. (And here’s the best part—the best way to learn is by mentoring others, so by giving them a mentoring role you will be cementing these new leaders’ skills and knowledge).

Data-driven training can help identify potential leaders

If you use a computer-based training program that provides data on trainees’ test results and overall progress, you will have hard data that will shine a spotlight on the rock stars among you. Good training programs offer administrative support with in-depth feedback on all aspects of trainees’ progress. Simutech Multimedia’s Admin Portal (Course Manager), for example, provides program administrators with powerful, data-based analytical tools and generate custom reports that allow them to objectively identify the students with innate talent, whom they can then cultivate in leadership roles. The Admin Portal uses the hard data collected while the learners are solving simulated faults within the various learning modules, and can show managers which people have really understood and applied the course material, as opposed to those who are blindly flailing away using trial and error, and randomly replacing expensive parts.

Even if there are hundreds of employees going through your training program at once, a scalable simulation program will let instructors and admins know instantly who the pack leaders are, using objective data, and not gut instinct.

Leaders cultivate leaders

If you’re a manufacturing executive, you yourself are a leader. Part of your purpose is to search for new and innovative ways of developing and managing your staff. Maintenance staff are critical to the daily smooth operation of a manufacturing facility, and it is paramount to identify and nurture the leaders among them. Then they in turn will be able to guide a new generation of troubleshooting leaders that will be equipped to keep your plant reliability and productivity at their peak well into the future.

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