Continuous improvement is one of top priorities for every manufacturing company. But experienced Production Managers who can fill the gap between the shift managers and  operational site management are hard to find. Instead of hiring expensive experts, smaller companies are better off if they train talented candidates themselves. 

Manufacturers are always aiming to produce high quality products in a shorter time. At the same time, they want to reduce waste to an absolute minimum. Continuous improvement is therefore one of the biggest priorities for all companies. But where larger corporations can afford to hire expensive specialists to improve their production process, small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) need to be more creative to reach the same goal. 

Lack of senior managers

“It´s one of the challenges SMEs in the manufacturing industry face”, explains Vincenzo Carrabs, manager of the Engineering Division with Michael Page Brussels. “There are more than enough young and talented candidates, but across the market as a whole there is need for Production Managers. An interim consultant is a viable option but can be costly and the ROI needs to be looked at on a case per case basis. So unless smaller business are willing to invest heavenly in an expert, they will have to come up with another solution.”

Invest in your own employees

So what can you medium sized business owners do to improve the production process? “I advise my clients that instead of looking for expertise outside of the business, they should look for talent within the company before going to market. If this is not an option then hiring someone that has the raw talent and the right personality traits and attitude is the next step. Good professionals like this can be trained in waste management, continuous improvement and operational excellence, as long as they have the soft skills.”

Trouble shooting

The most important personality trait is being a good communicator, explains Vincenzo: “In this type of job you spend 80 percent of your time working with people, like assembly workers, buyers and other operational stakeholders. You need to be able to work with employees at all levels, from the highest level executive to the machine operator on the shop floor.”

Common sense

The other two important requirements for a good Production Manager are analytical skills and problem solving abilities. Those qualities shouldn´t be too difficult to find among candidates for these kind of positions, says Carrabs: “Part of the job consists of trouble shooting problems in the process, but for candidates with an engineering or a technical background, solving problems is their second nature. For them it just a matter of common sense. Ensuring you find a good recruiter to help you screen those qualities in candidates is the key to success”

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