Recruiting Strategies in a Challenging Market

April’s Kansas City Manufacturing Network meeting featured a panel of manufacturing and skilled trades operations professionals, led by Rich Piper from Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC).  The panelists shared their struggles, as well as their successes in building a skilled workforce in the current challenging environment.

Rich Piper led off by discussing some examples of how partnerships with KCKCC can expand access to students and training resources for companies looking to fill positions. The college has formal certification programs, but can also develop curriculum for specialized needs for those willing to work with the school and instructors. For example, he noted that Huhtamaki has partnered with the DeSoto school district and KCKCC in working with the counselors and teachers of Desoto High School to identify upcoming graduates who might want to start a career immediately after graduating. Huhtamaki may hire 2 to 3 DHS graduates to work the summer (a probationary period) before they start investing in their machine tech training in the fall.

Henke received a ‘value added’ bonus to their in house blueprint reading training provided by KCKCC.  The primary goal was to reduce the amount of rework being done. The amount of rework has gone down significantly. The word got out in the community that Henke invests in their employees.  Henke would post a job opening and better qualified applicant starting applying. Rich also recommended the book Generation iY by Tim Elmore as a great resource for integrating millennials into the workforce.

Jason Grove, from Dimensional Innovations, discussed his company’s rapid growth over the past 18 months, and noted that the company’s strategy of utilizing temporary workers to evaluate potential new permanent hires was no longer working for them. The company has launched a formal recruiting program, and has hired a full time recruiter to increase their options and access to the engineers and designers they need to fuel their growth.

Charlie Browne, from Yanfeng Global Automotive Interiors, Inc. noted that he had relocated due to his company’s need to be closer to the GM plant in Fairfax, and had come from Michigan, where the automotive industry was a talent magnet, to the Kansas City area where there is much less awareness of manufacturing opportunities, and fewer skilled and entry level employees available.  An entry level job fair netted 81 hires, that within a year were gone, and efforts to recruit from other employers revealed that most employees were happy with their current jobs.

Nancy Shively, from Pro Circuit, faced the challenge of an aging workforce, where skilled electricians were retiring, and replacements were not coming down the pipeline.   Like Dimensional Innovations, temp to hire is not working like it used to, and she has had to focus more efforts on building the brand, and promoting opportunity for workers in order to attract good candidates.

All of the speakers agreed that being engaged in the broader community is critical to strengthening the pipeline for good candidates.   Rich noted that the college is always looking for companies willing to get involved in their outreach efforts, and to serve on their advisory committee.  Dimensional Innovations has had a long term relationship with Pittsburg State University, and serves on the curriculum committee. They also regularly attend fairs at K State, and look to build relationships with students at both schools both at the fairs, and through internships.  Pro Circuit distinguishes themselves as an employer of choice by offering training programs that can help entry level employees build skills and increases in pay.

Charlie and Nancy both noted that tapping excellent employees to both recruit friends and family to work for them had been positive, but also noted the challenge that when the rules are bent to keep marginal people due to the talent shortage, that it hurts the brand, and creates issues with the excellent workers who resent having to put up with the less committed people.

Among the suggestions for those looking to improve recruitment in their companies:

  • Financial incentives or ‘bribery’ doesn’t work.  Focus on making the workplace more rewarding to the employees you want to keep, through access to training, referral programs, and better screening of new hires.
  • Get involved in the community to make future workers (and their parents) aware of great opportunities in manufacturing. Host a PTA meeting, offer a tour, and show career ladders associated with improving skills.
  • Know what your competition is offering, and create training programs, benefits, or a culture that beats the competition, and establishes you as an employer of choice that workers tell their friends and family about.
  • Communicate with your employees. Understanding how their work contributes to the whole – either by sharing financials, customer feedback, or even just a completed project well done helps employees see how their work has value and meaning.
  • Always be recruiting, even when you aren’t hiring, and don’t hesitate to hire an excellent person, as being too slow means you will probably lose them to a competitor.

 

 

Emerging Leaders Continue to Excel

Fifteen members of the 3rd  Emerging Leaders Tier 2 program and 19 members of the inaugural Tier 3 program  celebrated completion of their next phase of development as leaders in their manufacturing companies in April, 2016. The Emerging Leaders Program, championed by Ben Troja of Webco Manufacturing, and KCMN advisory board member, featured a 6 session course offered in partnership with Johnson County Community College, and with input and participation from several members of KCMN and the Kansas City Chapter of the National Tooling and Machine Association (NTMA).

The goal of the program is to provide a foundation for learning the basic concepts of Leadership in a setting that encourages participant to support one another, and to apply the concepts taught back at their workplaces. Participants were provided with a blend of classroom instruction, materials to utilize/retain the concepts taught, and an opportunity to share best practices with others in their industry.

T2 Spring 2016
Spring 2016 Emerging Leaders Tier 2 Program Graduates
Spring 2016 Tier Program Graduates
Spring 2016 Emerging Leaders Tier 3 Program Graduates

To date, 208 participants have been part of an Emerging Leaders program, and 169 have earned a Certificate indicating that they have attended at least 5 of the 6 sessions per Tier offered.  The program has expanded from a single 6 session offering, to 3 Tiers with 6 sessions each.

Participant quotes:

“George allows US to do the work and develop our own answers in the group.”

“The courses make me self-reflect to understand how to become more successful”

“Tools were provided to help me deal with HR issues”

Tier 2 participants will have the opportunity to continue learning and networking in a Tier 3 program that will launch in late Summer. For more information, contact Donna Gordon, 816-304-7958 or donna@kcmn.org

Tier 1 Emerging Leaders Celebrate Graduation

Twenty seven members of the 4th Emerging Leaders Tier 1 program celebrated completion of their first phase of development as leaders in their manufacturing companies on April 6, 2016. The Emerging Leaders Program, championed by Ben Troja of Webco Manufacturing, and KCMN advisory board member, featured a 6 session course offered in partnership with Johnson County Community College, and with input and participation from several members of KCMN and the Kansas City Chapter of the National Tooling and Machine Association (NTMA).

The goal of the program is to provide a foundation for learning the basic concepts of Leadership in a setting that encourages participant to support one another, and to apply the concepts taught back at their workplaces. Participants were provided with a blend of classroom instruction, materials to utilize/retain the concepts taught, and an opportunity to share best practices with others in their industry.

EL T1 Spring 2016

To date, 163 participants have been part of an Emerging Leaders program, and 135 have earned a Certificate indicating that they have attended at least 5 of the 6 sessions per Tier offered.  The program has expanded from a single 6 session offering, to 3 Tiers with 6 sessions each.

Participant quotes:

“I felt refreshed when I left the teacher was great the class was great. It was great classroom collaboration. I look forward to the next class.”

“George gets me thinking, and realizing there are things I can improve on”

“I was impressed with my first session yesterday. George is a great instructor and the climate he sets in the classroom makes for a unique learning experience….as compared to sitting in an all day seminar!!!”

Tier one participants will have the opportunity to continue learning and networking in a Tier 2 program that will launch in late Summer. For more information, contact Donna Gordon, 816-304-7958 or donna@kcmn.org

 

Congratulations to our Emerging Leaders

In early November, 47 participants earned their certificates for completing either Tier 1 or Tier 2 of our Emerging Leaders program. Emerging Leaders is a professional development opportunity for KCMN and NTMA members, spearheaded by Ben Troja of Webco and developed in cooperation with Johnson County Community College and from feedback from numerous KCMN and NTMA members.

Fall 2015 Tier 1 Emerging Leaders
Fall 2015 Tier 1 Emerging Leaders

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall 2015 Tier 2 Emerging Leaders
Fall 2015 Tier 2 Emerging Leaders

Our Goal:  To provide a foundation for learning the basic concepts of Leadership in a setting that encourages support and application of the concepts taught.  Participants not only learn the foundations of leadership principles, but also have the opportunity to share application of those principles in their day to day activities with their peers.  Among some of the comments:

“Classes address things where you learn that other people are going through the same thing”

“What I learn applies to what I am doing at work”

“Sessions are interactive and entertaining”

To date, 141 participants have been part of either Tier 1 and or Tier 2 sessions.  Thanks to the guidance of Ben Troja of Webco, Jason Heidbreder of LPF High Performance Coatings, Thomas Dunbar of SOR, Inc (some of our Emerging Leaders participants), Carol Lehman and George Ferguson of Johnson County Community College we are now adding Tier 3 curriculum in 2016.  Learn more by clicking here.

 

Emerging Leaders Tier 2 – Taking it to the Next Level

Fifteen participants from 6 area manufacturing companies were recognized for completing the Tier 2 Emerging Leaders program in early June 2015.  The Emerging Leaders Program is a joint effort of KCMN, the Kansas City Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association, and Johnson County Community College.   The goal of the program is to provide a foundation for learning the basic concepts of Leadership in a setting that encourages support and application of the concepts taught. Participants were provided with a blend of classroom instruction, materials to utilize/retain the concepts taught, and an opportunity to apply what is learned in their workplaces. Sharing of successes, lessons learned and challenges was both encouraged and part of the curriculum in order to encourage accountability.

 Emerging leaders tier 2

Tier 2 sessions covered Time Management, Driving Change, Managing Managers , Financial Management, HR Law, and Developing Yourself and Others. Many of the participants expressed interest in continuing the program, and will be meeting in the Fall to discuss topics and strategies for improving their leadership skills.

Congratulations to our Emerging Leaders

Twenty eight participants from 16 area manufacturing companies were recognized for completing the Tier 1 Emerging Leaders program in early June 2015.  The Emerging Leaders Program is a joint effort of KCMN, the Kansas City Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association, and Johnson County Community College.   The goal of the program is to provide a foundation for learning the basic concepts of Leadership in a setting that encourages support and application of the concepts taught. Participants were provided with a blend of classroom instruction, materials to utilize/retain the concepts taught, and an opportunity to apply what is learned in their workplaces. Sharing of successes, lessons learned and challenges was both encouraged and part of the curriculum in order to encourage accountability.

Sessions covered Performance Management, Conflict Resolution, Communication, Delegation, Goal Setting, and Cross Generational Motivation and Cultural Alignment.   Ben Troja, KCMN advisory board member, and champion for the development of this group, addressed the class at the concluding presentation, thanking them for their efforts to continue their education and growth. Ben noted that manufacturing’s growth hinges on the ability of effective leadership to manage that growth; and that their participation shows their dedication to making things happen in their companies.

Emerging Leaders Tier 1 June 2015 crop

 

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A&E Endorses Work with KCKCC-TEC

I am writing to thank KCKCC-TEC, Mark Moehlman, you and your staff for the great work in completing the customized beginner and advanced Laser training for A & E Custom Manufacturing last December, 2014.

As we are aware it was a long process from letter writing and attaining the grants for funding, to picking the appropriate equipment, purchasing the equipment, installing the equipment, training the trainer and setting the curriculum for the classes. I assume it was an enormous task to accomplish these tasks while moving to a new location and continuing to educate students, all simultaneously.

I am happy to report, in the short time since completing the training our beginning laser operators have been applying their new skills and we are seeing great results. One student that had not operated a Laser prior to the training is now running a dual 4000 watt laser cell with full automation. I am told from several of my more experience Laser Techs that the information on advanced cutting condition was extremely helpful. We also have had a beginner student with minimal experience advance to the EMLK Laser/Punch Combination machine with success.

I know that the training received from KCKCC-TEC had a big part in accelerating our employee’s advancement in machine operating experience. With this success we look forward to more training with new operators in the future.

We are also excited about the possibility of KCKCC-TEC adding Press Brake training to their curriculum. This training is a service we could utilize immediately. A&E is on call to help in any way we can to realize this training.

Thank you.

John Jaixen

General Manager

A&E Custom Mfg.

Emerging Leaders Complete Tier 1

Nineteen members of the inaugural Emerging Leaders program celebrated completion of their first phase of development as leaders in their manufacturing companies on February 11, 2015. The Emerging Leaders Program, championed by Ben Troja of Webco Manufacturing, and KCMN advisory board member, featured a 6 session course offered in partnership with Johnson County Community College, and with input and participation with the Kansas City Chapter of the National Tooling and Machine Association.
Emerging Leaders Tier 1

The goal of the program is to provide a foundation for learning the basic concepts of Leadership in a setting that encourages support and application of the concepts taught. Participants were provided with a blend of classroom instruction, materials to utilize/retain the concepts taught, and an opportunity to apply what is learned in their workplaces. Sharing of successes, lessons learned and challenges was both encouraged and part of the curriculum in order to encourage accountability. “We are learning ways to communicate and finding others who share the same issues”, noted one participant. Several noted “The instruction is very specific to problems we face in the real world” and “We are learning new and better ways to be a leader.”

Tier one participants will have the opportunity to continue learning and networking in a Tier 2 program that launches on April 1. For more information, contact Donna Gordon, 816-304-7958 or donna@kcmn.org

Networking: It’s About Relationships

What can you get from your network?  This question, posed by David Cacioppo, President of emfluence, launched the networking discussion at the September KCMN meeting held at Alphapointe.   The answer was broader than the handful of typical responses:

CustomersPanel Discussion
Service Providers
Support
Employers
Employees
Education
Friends

Networking is not a ‘one and done’ exercise, it’s a process by which all of us can grow and learn, but there is some effort involved.  David noted that there are different kinds of networks for different purposes, but all should be fully leveraged to gain your maximum benefit.  If you meet new people, follow up with them. If you are attending an event, get there early to meet new people. Make networking an opportunity to forge personal connections.

Brad Carl, from Allied Products, noted that networking has enabled him to see new perspectives, become aware of new trends and to meet new people.  It’s also led him to a new career opportunity.  Dave Coughlin from Heatron stated that for him, networking was all about helping others.  In helping others, you gain respect, trust and better working relationships with those around you.   Chris Klope of Mobile Hydraulics jumped into networking with both feet when a job change brought him from St. Louis to Kansas City.  His network has created opportunities to work with new customers, suppliers and business associates, and he noted that Kansas City has an open and welcoming networking scene.

The group discussed social media, and it’s role in manufacturing. David noted that on LinkedIn, his 1300+ connections really could translate to over 1 million people.  Brad noted that he uses Twitter to listen to what others have to say, and to keep in contact with others, and despite the funny sounding name, there is great business value in utilizing the network provided you have a plan.

Brad noted that social media is  not just marketing’s job.  He also dispelled some other social media myths:

  • It’s not just what you ate for breakfast
  • It’s not a place to sell or cold call
  • It’s not a place to sell products
  • If you build it, they won’t just come.

The group agreed that today your brand (personal and company) is not what you say it is, it’s what others say that you are.  It’s important to keep that in mind as you are out there, in person, and on social media.  It’s about forming relationships, and through those relationships your message will have resonance and staying power.

Dave noted that listening is key. His rule of thumb is to hear before heard.  Ask yourself, “Who do you want to be in the room with?” , then strive to be that person.

Chris talked about crowd-sourcing.  Originally the concept gathered steam as a funding source, with sites like Kickstarter and Indigogo, but has expanded to problem solving and collaboration solutions.  He gave the example of a toothpaste production line whose engineers were stymied over productivity improvements as they sought to increase the fill rate.  Putting the problem out to the crowd unveiled the solution that pulling vs pushing through the tube provided the solution, that was obvious to an MIT student who was not so close to the problem that he couldn’t see alternative solutions.  Chris noted that intellectual property concerns preclude some crowd-sourcing solutions, but open innovation contractors may provide the opportunity to present issues in a more confidential manner.  The bottom line is that not all solutions can be found internally, and reaching out to others can provide valuable insight.

Pet Peeves:  All panelists discussed networking pet peeves, and the audience shared some of their own as well.   Bottom line in this discussion:

  • Be sincere. People want to know you are genuine, and are not just looking to get something
  • Listen
  • Realize not everyone is in it for the same thing
  • Be considerate of people’s time

Dave noted that networking works best for you when you have a plan.  Whether your networking activity involves social media, the phone, email or in person, decide in advance how you intend to utilize your networking avenues, and have the discipline to stick to your plan.   He makes an effort to identify those he wants to have in his network, touch base with them on a regular basis, listen to what they have to say, and be helpful to them when you can.  Chris commented that networking is key to avoid being myopic.  Getting out and meeting new people and learning new things helps to avoid tunnel vision.

In conclusion, the panelists agreed that there was benefit to forming, growing and sustaining networks in their business, career and personal lives. At the end of the day, it’s about reaching out to people, on a personal basis, not just amassing cards or contacts or likes.

 

Thanks to all who made our Networking Event a Success!

One hundred and forty people attended our joint networking event at the Dark Horse Distillery in Lenexa.  We couldn’t have pulled this off without the support of our participating organizations:

APICS
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME)
Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE)
American Society for Quality (ASQ)

Also a great big thanks to our sponsors!
Premier Drink Sponsor: Spencer Fane
Supporting sponsors:  MWV, Kelly Services, Barr-Thorpe Electric and A&E Custom Manufacturing

Also thanks to Brian McCarthy (IIE), Deneen Slack (SME) and Andy Zawisza (APICS/KCMN) for giving up most of their evening to help with check-ins, and for all who led our networking discussions!

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