“What sets your shop apart?”
How would you answer that question?
Would you say, “state-of-the-art equipment”? Or maybe “superior machining”? How about “precision tolerances,” “in-house finishing,” or “prototyping services”?
Any or all of those answers may be true—and they’re all terrific! But none of them are what makes your business unique.
What truly sets your shop apart?
Your #1 Asset Can’t Be Bought or Sold
Manufacturing processes aren’t unique in and of themselves. The same machining centers are sold around the world and, practically speaking, anyone can learn the ins and outs of manufacturing—even how to run a machine shop.
But you didn’t hire “anyone,” did you? Your team isn’t a mish-mosh of strangers you pulled off the street. Your people are the backbone of your business. Talent and skill, creativity and innovation, problem-solving and customer care: none of these can exist without the living, breathing human beings who show up at your shop every day.
Do those people know how much they matter to the success of your modern machine shop? Do they know how much they matter to your success?
At the last NTMA Engage Summit, a respected industry leader stood before a packed house and spoke about the recruiting challenges currently burdening the manufacturing industry. He said to the crowd, “I told you this last year, and you haven’t done anything. And that’s the problem.”
What did he tell us last year? To invest in our people.
The most respected business owners in the world offer their own versions of the same wise advice. Those who invest in their people WIN. Those who don’t LOSE.
And in a post-pandemic world where people are increasingly harder to recruit and retain, you can’t afford to lose anyone—not a machinist, not an estimator, not a buyer, not a single person.
Maybe it’s time to stop worrying about “keeping” your people and start doing whatever you can to make sure they want to stay.
You can start with these steps:
Pay your people
Money matters—not because people are greedy, but because we live in a world that requires money in exchange for absolutely everything. No one goes to work to kill time. We work—every single one of us—for a paycheck. We trade our talents for financial freedom or, at the very least, stability.
So, what are you telling your team when you invest in a million-dollar machine yet squabble over a $2 raise? What are you communicating when you demand long days of hard work yet won’t provide even basic health benefits?
Develop your people
You know talent when you see it, and by now, you’ve probably realized that a person talented in one area is often talented in another. Your most valuable employees embody enormous potential, but it must be developed. If you’re looking for ways to improve manufacturing productivity and efficiency in your shop, developing your people should be your first move.
Excellent workers who aren’t challenged with opportunities to learn and grow will quickly leave your company to find an employer who truly values their talent, commitment, and creativity.
Promoting the growth and advancement of talented manufacturers is exactly why NTMA began the Emerging Leaders program. The manufacturing industry is full of highly skilled people. Don’t be the person who holds them back. Be the person they thank for helping them fulfill their potential.
Welcome your people
Leaving one job for another is not a minor task, yet many job shops have expressed irritation with the seemingly revolving door of employees in key roles. When you know you pay well and you provide plenty of development opportunities, it’s time to consider whether those early-exit employees simply never felt welcome.
Welcoming a new team member isn’t very different from welcoming a guest into your home. Do they have what they need? Are they reasonably accommodated? Do they feel accepted as they are?
A company’s culture is a reflection of its leadership. So if you’re witnessing an ongoing culture of dissatisfaction, the only place to look is in the mirror.
Recognize your people
At a bare minimum, people want to go to work, do their job, and collect their pay. But why settle for the bare minimum?
Everyone wants to be recognized for a job well done, and it’s as simple as taking the time to say, “Thank you for doing this” or “You did a great job on that.” Without sincere appreciation, even the most confident worker will begin to doubt the value of their contribution.
You Can Never Have Too Many Good People Around
In a world full of uncertainty, the best investment you can make is in people. Invest your time, your energy, your compassion, your help, your trust—and, of course, your money.
As the years pass and the manufacturing industry evolves and new challenges arise, you’re going to see those talented, good people grow and thrive. Some will even surpass you.
And with pride and gratitude, you’ll be able to say, “What sets my shop apart is its incredible people.”
NTMA’s members are all incredible people. Join us—and get to know them for yourself.