Developing Manufacturing’s Next-Generation Leaders Now  

A recent IndustryWeek eBook, Generation Now Leadership, shares stories of how young workers have rapidly progressed in their careers and assumed leadership positions.

These insights are needed, as global workforce demographics are shifting rapidly. Older workers are retiring in droves, meaning Millennials will represent 75% of the workforce by 2025. As a result, younger leaders will increasingly manage multigenerational teams.

Gen Z and Millennial workers are needed to keep the manufacturing industry growing and thriving, so being able to develop leaders at pace is a critical capability that all firms must possess. Strong talent development capabilities also make manufacturing companies more competitive, as human resource teams can point to a strong track record of internal promotion when they source and recruit new talent. 

The eBook shared multiple stories of how young leaders developed their careers. Across the stories, several strategies emerged, including:

Managers can support workforce change and development by:

  • Opening the door to unconventional hires: Instead of looking for workers with prior manufacturing experience, manufacturers can hire talent from a different industry background or who have wrapped up military careers.
  • Cross-train workers: Rotating employees through different assignments across sites enables them to learn the business from multiple perspectives. They’re also more likely to stay on and become leaders at their manufacturing companies.
  • Recognize young employees’ drivers: Young workers may be as motivated to work with passion and purpose as increasing their paycheck size. Employers can create opportunities for workers to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion by establishing employee resource groups, having them oversee workforce surveys, and contributing to human resources strategies and training development. Workers who care about sustainability can help explore opportunities to reduce their company’s carbon footprint and oversee key initiatives.
  • Leverage workers’ social media savvy: Generation Z has grown up on TikTok, Instagram, and other platforms. Young employees can use their social media skills to amplify their companies’ brands, attracting peers to their firms and gaining positive media coverage for key initiatives.
  • Holding 1:1 meetings: Young workers value 1:1 meetings with their managers and mentors. They gain strategies for solving problems, explore new avenues for professional growth, and feel cared for as individuals when managers and mentors express an interest in them.

Workers can accelerate their growth by:

  • Participating in co-ops and internships: Internships are a perfect opportunity to “try before you buy,” gaining insight into manufacturing company cultures, entry-level roles, and career opportunities. College students with a positive experience during these summer internships are likelier to join these firms after graduation.
  • Speaking up about goals: There’s no substitute for sharing a desire to lead. Employees can ask managers and other mentors which skills and experiences they need to acquire to climb the corporate ladder at their firms.
  • Pursuing excellence in their current roles: Those workers who go all-in to learn new skills and volunteer for new assignments are more likely to be tapped for potential leadership opportunities.
  • Working with advanced technology: Many manufacturers want to leverage their human capital to drive innovation further and faster than before. Leaders at companies that deploy QAD Redzone want to solve production problems, such as too many equipment breakdowns, slow changeovers, and quality issues. Workers who serve as champions for these initiatives, overseeing solution deployment and driving team adoption of new capabilities, are often promoted into new roles.
  • Being prepared to manage diverse teams: The workforce is more diverse than ever, with employees representing a range of races, ethnicities, languages, ages, and more. Young managers need to understand what drives their teammates, how they like to communicate and contribute, and what success looks like, finding ways to bring these hopes and goals to fruition.

The QAD Redzone Connected Workforce Solution provides pervasive access to real-time data, enables communication and collaboration via an app and other tools, and offers easy access to interactive learning. That’s appealing to young employees who want to work with technology.

Teams that use connected workforce solutions gain the data they need to perform their roles well and collaborate across functions to solve important production, quality, and maintenance issues. They also can leverage digital skills matrices to develop capabilities that their firms need now.

Managers benefit, too, by identifying who offers the most innovative ideas and shows emerging leadership skills so that they can tape them for more challenging assignments and roles.

QAD Redzone not only helps teams solve thorny production problems but also creates an innovation culture where all employees can do their best work, creating career success as they take their companies to new levels of performance.

Learn more about QAD Redzone

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