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For manufacturers, the keys to culture and inclusion can come from unlikely places: literature

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As manufacturing leaders, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can solve pressing problems through state-of-the-art, free-to-use systems.

So I’m obsessed with the apparently low-tech organizational culture and approach to inclusion. Bringing science fiction, religion, and all the short stories in between to the manufacturing floor with great results. This approach is a science-focused Reflection Point to invent a program that brings together people from all levels of the organization for accelerated discussions designed to build a better culture and stronger teams. It comes from a non-profit organization by name.

Ankowar Smith, Executive Director of Reflection Point, recently told me, “We basically believe.” It’s comprehensive and outperforms organizations that don’t. “

And the survey supports this idea, showing that companies that admire inclusion at all levels, including background and gender diversity, operate at higher performance levels. For example, according to technical research and consulting firm Gartner, the comprehensive team improved performance by 30% in a diverse environment. However, only 27% of leaders state that inclusion is a powerful part of their culture and values.

In today’s highly competitive and chaotic business environment, there are significant risks to manufacturers, so it is important to find innovative ways to build a work culture where people can participate, want to participate and want to stay. I have seen if there is.

Reflection point approach

Over the course of nearly 50 years with ReflectionPoint from MAGNET, a non-profit manufacturing consulting firm in northeastern Ohio, their innovative approach has brought the team closer, more vibrant, productive and inclusive. We’ve seen up close how it helped to instill culture. ..

ReflectionPoint’s group discussions, centered around short stories, involve conversations between colleagues outside of the daily hustle and bustle, where the barriers that normally exist between teammates tend to break. By using a professional facilitator to stir up valuable issues, these dialogues allow people to get rid of the dynamics of the workplace and come as their true self.

Manufacturing companies are essentially hierarchical locations, but in Reflection Point sessions, everyone from c-suite executives to warehouse workers is at the same level, and only humans bring different backgrounds and life experiences into discussions. increase.

“Our approach makes it possible to see where people have something in common, but it also takes people one step further and says,” Wow, there’s more to this person than I thought. ” Gives the opportunity to say. Once or twice in the hallway, “says Kowal Smith.

Specially trained facilitators carefully select stories based on the purpose of the organization, guide conversations, and elicit and overcome specific issues that impede the team. When the usual hierarchical barriers are washed away, these conversations lead to meaningful connections and spill over into everyday life. “It doesn’t just promote good relationships,” says Kowal Smith. “It’s about building collective intelligence skills. Humbly listen, ask good questions, challenge assumptions, be disrespectful, and broaden your empathy.”

Employees will be more comfortable speaking while the entire team will have a greater sense of belonging. In a recent example, Kowal Smith recalls a woman who was the head of marketing for an engineering company and she never felt she could consider anything outside the scope. But after some reflection point meetings she shared and asked questions among her colleagues, it began to change.

“Reflection Point is a conversation practice that many teams need to have. It builds confidence and creates space for ideas that are often unspoken,” says Kowal Smith.

Promotion of inclusion

One of the greatest aspects of this program is the ability to bring together people of all kinds of backgrounds to discuss their perspectives on the world and the workplace in a non-judgmental environment. If your organization wants to promote inclusion, Kowal Smith’s team will tell a story that leads to a deep debate about race and fairness.

A recent favorite of this program is from writer Chibundu Onuzo, a short story about a young Nigerian woman who wants to go to the bank, to change her hair, name, etc. from an older black woman who is a mentor. Is instructed to. And how she gets dressed to make it in business.

“The story is really about her own internal wrestling with how to maintain her credibility, even though she was instructed to change a lot of what made her herself,” says Kowal Smith. .. From that story, she says, Kowal Smith has created many informative conversations about race and workplace, homogenization of “ideal” workers, and things like mentorship and alliances. .. Leaders can also assess what else they can do to make all workers feel welcome.

Important reasons for manufacturers

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80% of manufacturing employees are white in the current situation. Companies can no longer afford to ignore much of their pool of talent, as talent is always premium. Adopting and promoting diversity is not only right, but also wise for those who want to win the fierce competition for talent today. That means we have to change our way of thinking and culture.

So I am very enthusiastic about the reflection point approach. Take people to the room, through a shared story, allow us all to see the human beings working next door and show ourselves more completely, and through those connections who we are I feel more important.

This is a way to foster a truly important relationship beyond summer barbecues and quarterly happy hours. And what’s the best part? It works (not just in manufacturing, but across the industry). Pre- and post-program survey data show improved social connectivity, psychological safety, and a sense of belonging, “it’s okay to take risks in this organization” and “I know others don’t agree.”

“In many cases, diversity efforts fail, and if you don’t invest in inclusion and collaboration, don’t give people the best place to bring yourself,” says Kowal Smith. “In the turnover rates we see in the workplace these days, it’s everyone’s duty to find a way to make people feel valued and wanted, because they feel valued and want it. If they feel they don’t, they vote on their own feet. “

In my work, I see many manufacturers struggling to “where to start” when it comes to cultural building, diversity and inclusiveness. In reality, there is no “right way” to make a difference. It requires many different approaches and a lot of hard work. The best advice I can give is just getting started. Start somewhere and continue to open your heart. I never imagined that discussing the story would help my team collaborate, but that’s exactly what happened.