Working with the Next Generation (and Every Generation)
By Mark Inboden
U.S. manufacturing is on an upswing, as the Labor Department reported that manufacturers nationwide added workers last month at the fastest pace in more than four years.
We keep an eye on hiring trends, and of course on our own hiring needs. At UCEC, we can see that the workforce is changing and we want to keep on top of things. One thing we’re doing is providing management training that addresses the needs of different generations of workers on the floor.
At our management training course, we’re learning that Generation X workers are different than Millennial workers. You have to speak to them differently. What may motivate a Gen Xer is very different than a 25-year-old. A typical Millennial may not respond to a traditional approach to labor management such as, “Here’s what I need you to do.” The Millennial may want to think about the task at hand. They may wish to respond to their manager via email or text.
Some workers, regardless of their age or experience level, learn by doing hands-on tasks. Others want to follow a link or print out instructions and learn that way. What we’re teaching our management team is to think: how do we take all of these different ways of doing things and speak to the employee in the “language” they understand best?
For instance, let’s say I tell an employee, “I need you to crank this out today.” I may mean that the project needs to be done and completed by the end of the work day. To someone else, however, the phrase, “I need you to crank this out today,” may mean something different: Work on this project hard today, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be completed by day’s end.
In our daily shop work at UCEC, we read schematic prints, and sometimes, we have to read between the lines to figure out what an engineer intended for a particular panel. We want to do the same with our employees: we’re discovering how to communicate with employees in a way that helps them. We also want our employees to extend their careers with us. Cross-training is another area we’re working on, so employees can switch between jobs and skillsets within the company.
Manufacturing is attracting skilled workers to Colorado, and we want to be a part of the renaissance of American manufacturing. Join us on the journey and see how far we’ll go!
Mark is CEO and President of UCEC.