People are People: But More Importantly, People are OUR People

Posted by Glenn Edwards on May 26, 2021 11:48:03 AM


People are an organization’s most valuable, variable, and rewarding resource for managers in any business. Developing this resource in a positive workplace environment to create a culture of excellence is not magic, but... when it clicks, it is magical, and the rewards can be majestic. OUR people, OUR Team.

Inside any manufacturing plant there are two primary resources to produce parts: equipment and people. Both are critical to success and must be developed for enterprise excellence.

Equipment and People. Let’s dive into the details of each.



  • Consists of hard materials, metal, plastic, wiring, programming, cables, nuts and bolts etc. Equipment does not have questions or seek information.
  • Made up of physical, mental, and emotional elements. People have questions and want information.
  • Cannot run without people- both operational and maintenance. Equipment is powered on and off.
  • Need understanding to be powered on and motivation and inspiration. What am I supposed to do and How I am supposed to do it? Why am I supposed to do it and what’s in it for me?
  • Has predetermined limitations. The speed can be adjusted but has a clearly defined max speed and output.
  • Max output is not clearly defined and/or known, even to themselves. Their min and max output has a broader range.

Which is easier to troubleshoot and repair? Equipment or people? Arguably, equipment has less variation and is easier to troubleshoot or find the root cause issue and countermeasure.

It is programmed to run per its design and has predetermined functions and outputs. On the other hand, people have many inputs at work, influencing each other through leadership, peers, promoters, detractors, positive and negative information.

Preventive maintenance is scheduled and done on equipment for sustained efficiency and prevents downtime. But do leaders do preventive maintenance with their people or is it a run to failure (running them to leave, quit, un-engage)?

Equipment purchases versus Hiring (Talent Acquisition)

Let’s compare a purchase of a $250,000.00 piece of equipment versus the hiring of a production employee. This employee with wages, overtime, and benefits makes $50,000.00 per year. Hiring and training costs are $50,000.00, so if the employee works for five years that’s the same dollar investment.

Equipment purchase process typically requires quotes from multiple vendors. Cost, vendor reliability, support, and experience are all considered when making a decision. In addition, a building and installation schedule is drafted with timelines, and an executive fixed asset approval is needed.

How about for talent acquisition (hiring)? Are multiple talent pipelines sourced? Is the pipeline reliability and effectiveness evaluated? Is hiring considered an investment?

Equipment installation versus On-boarding

Equipment installation has a detailed plan and schedule executed. This includes Trial process runs, equipment adjustments, and safety and quality checks. The equipment is then approved for production and kicked off. Periodic follow ups are done to ensure the equipment is operating well.

How about employee on-boarding? Is there a detailed plan and schedule to ensure the employee is trained on the what, how, and why? Do we provide positive inputs and information from leadership and peers to ensure a positive kick off? Are follow ups done to ensure the employee experience is positive?

Ask yourself: “How do I, as a leader, balance my time between equipment, process & people?”

Hopefully, this has inspired some thought and reflection on people and how they are viewed as a valuable resource. This is our what and why. We are always striving for continuous improvement and waste reduction. How many of these activities are focused on the eighth waste of unutilized talent?

So what’s next? As the story continues, we will review strategies to reduce this eighth waste, develop a positive workplace culture, develop our people and build our house of workforce.

Stay tuned and ask me or one of the workforce experts at IMEC how we can discuss this together for your organization. Or better yet: view the  DEVELOP YOUR TEAM: Building your Solid House of Workforce Development Webinar details below and register to join us on June 9th and begin your journey.

Remember... OUR People — OUR Team!

Webinar details:

DEVELOP YOUR TEAM: Building your Solid House of Workforce Development Webinar
June 9  |  10:00am
This webinar introduces elements, focus points, and processes to improve your House of Workforce, addressing ongoing struggle with workforce development.

Glenn Edwards

Written by Glenn Edwards

Topics: made in il, manufacturing, workforce, workforce development, workforce training, Leadership

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