Engineering a happier place to work
A bespoke training programme born out of frustrations in the workplace has made a busy factory a happier place to work.
Having attended the Skills 4 Career Development Programme, Sarah-Black Smith, Head of Factory Operations at Siemens in Congleton, realised there were lessons from the training which would benefit the wider workforce in terms of improved communication, taking responsibility and resolving issues before they become someone else’s problem.
So, she engaged Skills 4’s managing director Jayne Little to support a culture change on the shopfloor with very impressive results.
“This training was identified following an initiative that was set up to create a self-empowered team on the shop floor,” said Sarah. “We engaged Skills 4 as I was on a training course that Jayne ran in partnership with The WISE Campaign (Women in Science and Engineering) and it was excellent. I spoke to Jayne afterwards and she tailored a course to meet the needs of our shop floor team.
“The colleagues in the team that attended the training have given amazing feedback on how they have changed the way they interact with each other. They are now addressing issues they have in a constructive manner, using assertive language. Everyone has fed back that they enjoy working with each other again.”
The Siemens Motion Control Plant in Congleton began in 1971 as a warehouse and switchboard workshop – the facility now manufacturers more than 1.3m motor drives each year which are used in a wide variety of applications, including baggage handling systems, pumps, factory automation, and even roller coasters. The site employs over 500 people, and exports 98% of its products to 78 countries, so in such a dynamic workplace in a constantly changing business strong teamwork is essential.
Jayne Little said: “Sarah and Siemens are promoting an ownership culture and they had tried to launch self-empowered teams so that staff took more responsibility for hitting targets/managing workloads/arranging holidays etc. However, a few misunderstandings had led to tensions and fallouts among staff.
“I wrote a short bespoke programme called ‘Team Building and Empowerment’ with a real focus collaborative communication. Working with delegates, we were able to brainstorm how using the tools and techniques learned in the training could lead to successful negotiations, both among themselves and with management, to improve relations and resolve issues.”
Both men and women took part in the first training sessions and the feedback has been very positive.
Ollie Braxton said: “The training made me realise how blunt I was, and how I needed to learn to engage my brain before my mouth and to get the facts right before jumping in.”
Mark Lancaster said: “Having the Skills 4 training enabled me to become more assertive with the team when making decisions.”
“The training which has taught me listen to other members of the team and let them finish before saying my opinion,” added Gaynor Malpass.
“After the training with Jayne it gave me more confidence when speaking to the team,” said Mary Lambourne, while Darren Tipping added: “Skills 4 made me realise I should listen to others more and not to jump to conclusions.”
Sarah Black-Smith said she was delighted with the work. “We have already rolled this out to a second team in Production and have plans to continue this,” she said. “It has been extremely worthwhile. We are seeing greater engagement and happier teams because of this training.”