By Polly Newport
Imagine the gateway to Hell – hot, noisy and so slippery you feel you may lose your footing and fall into the flames at any moment. That was my first impression of the process of making glass bottles. Of course, it wasn’t quite as slippery as that but the rest still stands.
And then in this environment try to manage a team – the noise is so intense that you have to put your arm round people’s shoulders to be heard through their ear protectors, and when the production line has a problem it quickly turns into a pile of broken glass.
There’s all of this and for the first time in twenty years someone is talking to you about being a better manager, about motivation and about performance improvement. Working with front line manufacturing managers is exciting as well as challenging. With some managers having had no previous explanation of management as a process all they had to rely on was what they’d seen happening and their own experience of being managed. Most of that wasn’t pretty or clever. And it certainly wasn’t funny.
By applying key elements of the mindset model we developed at Ardanaire, the impact was seen in the results in a few weeks – and sustained over at least the next two years. By setting clear goals and giving positive feedback, managers communicated what they wanted to happen. They learned what to do when goals were achieved and how to deal with it when targets were missed, botched or work badly executed. They increased their own self-awareness and learned about how they could impact and interact with others. And they learned to handle confrontation without fanning the flames or treading on broken glass.
A 1% increase in productivity on several 24-hour production lines can affect the bottom line by over £1million a year. We achieved a sustained 2% in the first year and further increases thereafter. The factory is still like a circle of hell but a happier hell now!