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Hey folks, welcome back to Troubleshooting Thursdays! Here on TST recently we’ve been looking at various hot topics in manufacturing. We just finished a four-part series on effective organizational change management, and before that we talked about an often overlooked way for manufacturing executives to enhance their Six Sigma continuous improvement efforts.

Today’s topic is performance management. Manufacturing execs and human resources managers, this one’s for you.

What is performance management?

Not so long ago, managers simply observed employees’ performance throughout the year and sat down with them once a year to talk about it, and set new goals for the upcoming year while they were at it.

But managing employee performance has come to mean much more than that. In fact, if a strong performance management system is in place in an organization, it can actually eliminate the need for traditional annual performance evaluations. Performance management, as it is used in human resources theory these days, refers to a continual process of employer–employee communication and monitoring with the goal of supporting the organization’s strategic objectives. According to UC Berkeley’s Guide to Managing Human Resources, the process is actually a continually repeating cycle consisting of 1) clarifying expectations, 2) setting objectives, 3) identifying goals, 4) providing feedback, and 5) reviewing results.

Other experts define performance management as a process of creating a work environment in which people can work to the best of their abilities, and a system to develop employees. 

So the focus of performance management is getting the best out of each employee for the overall good of both the employee and the organization, in a win-win scenario.

Elements of a strong performance management system

To get an idea of what is involved in developing a performance management system for your manufacturing enterprise, look at this list of system components developed by The Balance Careers:

  1. Develop clear job descriptions.
  2. Select appropriate people with an appropriate selection process.
  3. Negotiate requirements and accomplishment-based performance standards, outcomes, and measures. 
  4. Provide effective orientation, education, and training. 
  5. Provide on-going coaching and feedback. 
  6. Conduct quarterly performance development discussions.
  7. Design effective compensation and recognition systems that reward people for their contributions. 
  8. Provide promotional/career development opportunities for staff.
  9. Assist with exit interviewsto understand WHY valued employees leave the organization. 

You can read more about each individual step here, but today we want to show you how Simutech Multimedia can help with at least five of these nine steps. Here goes:

Step 2: Select appropriate people with an appropriate selection process

Simutech Multimedia’s Training System is a modular, simulation-based training software solution that teaches maintenance professionals how to diagnose and repair electrical faults in production-line machinery quickly, safely, and effectively. However, it can also be extremely helpful in the hiring process. The Admin Dashboard (a portal for Administrators to track trainee progress and administer the program) can be easily adapted to help vet maintenance candidates during the application and hiring process. Using the custom test feature, HR staff can create tests for applicants to see which have the most aptitude, ensuring your company gets the best people possible for the job.

Step 3: Negotiate requirements and accomplishment-based performance standards, outcomes, and measures

As McKinsey & Co. say, “Strong performance management rests on the simple principle that ‘what gets measured gets done.’” Because it’s computer-based, Simutech Multimedia’s Training System tracks and measures everything. It can tell how long trainees take to complete modules, which specific topics are giving them trouble, whether the solutions they’re attempting are logical or just random trial-and error guesswork, their test scores, etc., and even generates custom reports for Admins. So the system provides the data that Admins need to objectively measure trainees’ performance on an ongoing basis. 

Provide effective orientation, education, and training

If you want to enhance your maintenance staff’s performance in handling equipment fails (and cut your downtime), you need to provide effective training that will keep them (and the equipment) safe and give them a systematic method for solving electrical faults as quickly as possible. Simutech Multimedia’s Training System is an award-winning program trusted by over 500 manufacturing companies in the automotive, food and beverage, plastics and packaging, oil and gas sectors, and over 200 schools, so you can be sure it’s highly effective.

Provide on-going coaching and feedback

Simutech’s modular system builds from simple to complex concepts. Trainees only move on once concepts have been mastered, and they receive specific, targeted, and useful feedback every step of the way. The modules teach core skills such as troubleshooting electrical circuits, control circuits, and motor circuits, and more advanced skills such as troubleshooting PLC circuits, industrial controls, and industrials sensors. Admins can easily follow trainees’ progress (even when there are large numbers of trainees) and know when someone is in need of a little extra help.

Provide promotional/career development opportunities for staff

Simutech’s Training System is an excellent way to develop staff skills, giving them a sense of achievement, self-worth, and enhancing job engagement and satisfaction. Engagement, job satisfaction, and the knowledge that their careers are on the right path reduces staff churn and saves your organization the costs associated with a high turnover (included wasted training hours, loss of workers’ experience, and HR staff time). 

If your manufacturing enterprise is looking to you for enhanced performance management, make sure Simutech Multimedia’s Training System is part of your plan. 

And that’s it for this Thursday, Troubleshooters! Tune in again next week when we look at leadership and employee development.

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