The role of engineers in manufacturing companies can never be understated. A manufacturing operation may involve engineers specializing in various fields, including product development, design & operation and electrical to name a few.
Product development engineers make ideas come to life. In companies like Apple, Samsung, or Microsoft, they are involved in turning concepts into actual products that consumers patronize and use.
Design and operation engineers design, develop and manage integrated systems for the production of high-quality products. These systems may include computer networks, robots, machine tools, and materials-handling equipment.
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Electrical engineers make sure that the power supply in a manufacturing site is enough for the company to meet its production targets. This is of particular importance for industrial manufacturing businesses like ArcelorMittal, ThyssenKrupp, Boeing or Airbus. They maintain the power infrastructure and facilities within the manufacturing plant, or liaise with temporary electric power suppliers in times when the factory needs additional power, say during peak production seasons, or when load shedding or peak shaving are implemented in the area.
Whatever the area of specialization is, engineers play highly essential roles in manufacturing facilities, and as such, it is important to keep them motivated at work and retain their services. While there is not a world of difference between what keeps engineers engaged at work and what it takes to do that for any other member of the organization, paying keen attention to the unique motivational needs of engineers can spell a huge difference.
Here are some things to take into consideration in keeping engineers motivated in manufacturing companies:
1. Allow them to be free, creative
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Engineers value a strong sense of autonomy and the freedom to choose how to approach various issues at work. They appreciate if they are given the opportunity to creatively resolve engineering-related challenges at work. Based on our experience with our electrical engineers, they thrive on a results-driven environment, and appreciate having a degree of independence to perform at their best with minimal supervision and instruction. They are also stimulated by a work environment that promotes and rewards innovative thought.
2. They are not enticed by promotion
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Okay, hold your horses. When I said that engineers are not enticed by promotion, I meant the type that follows a conventional progression across the company organization.
Many engineers in manufacturing companies, like in India’s Tata Motors or Tejas Networks, may not be interested in traditional leadership positions, because they may not want to manage other employees or sit in the office for hours on end – they just want to keep building and developing products, and maintain the challenge and dynamism of a thriving engineering career. It is possible that promoting them to a traditional manager will suppress their creative engineering process, and this may dampen their motivation at work. For example, if a manufacturing company promotes an electrical engineer (who is actively engaged in installing, running and maintaining onsite power generation facilities) to a conventional manager (who will spend eight hours of his day preparing documents and responding to e-mails), then it is the running the risk of demotivating the previously-engaged engineer.
Having said this, if an engineer really deserves a promotion, then let it be to a position that is equally energetic and stimulating, that will still require his engineering creativity and ingenuity.
3. For engineers, learning is an ending journey (Kaizen)
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Manufacturing companies hire engineers because of the latter’s mastery of what they do. While they may already be specialists in their own fields, engineers are always hungry to learn more and do more.
Engineers flourish in environments where learning is a part of their daily life. As such, manufacturing companies should continuously offer them opportunities to improve on their skills and to apply new learnings through healthy challenges. Based on experience, our electrical engineers welcome specialized training courses on modern technologies and innovative methods, and situations that will require them to use the new knowledge that they have acquired. They also appreciate opportunities to mentor technicians or other engineers, because doing so helps them reinforce their engineering knowledge and, to a large extent, gives a deeper sense of purpose to their vocation as engineers.
4. Give them missions, not just projects
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Engineers are driven by their desire to change the world. Most great engineers are motivated by working on big projects and by seeing the encompassing results of their hard work. Therefore, it is important that engineers in a manufacturing company realize the magnitude of the task given to them.
For example, it is essential that an electrical engineer in an industrial manufacturing facility, like Emirates Global Aluminium or Tata Steel, understands that without him performing his task, the plant will not have the power to produce goods, and as such the company will fail at providing its customers that products that they need. This will help him see the real-world impact of his responsibility within the production plant. The consciousness that his task has a meaningful effect to a great number of people and businesses will lead him to embrace his accountability and to value more his position within the company.
5. Let them have fun
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Engineering tasks within a manufacturing company can be daunting and can put a huge amount of pressure on engineers. It will not hurt to inject a bit of fun.
It is, thus, important for manufacturing companies to encourage enjoyment and interaction at work. For example, they can organize a quarterly family day, when employees and their families can gather and enjoy a day at the park. They can also arrange a company lunch or dinner after a successful campaign or production season as a sign of appreciation of the employees’ work. They can also host an awards ceremony to recognize exemplary performance. A sports day is also a good idea to allow employees to unwind and engage each other in healthy competition.
Engineers represent an invaluable part of the overall success of a manufacturing business. Engineers possess an intellectual capacity and ability to generate innovation, and this is essential for manufacturing companies especially amidst escalating competition within an increasingly challenging market. The more that the management understands what drives the motivation of engineers, the better experience the engineering team will have in the manufacturing company. And the more encouraging their work environment, the bigger the chance that engineers will remain engaged at work, perform at their peak and surpass expectations.
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This article is sponsored by Altaaqa Global Caterpillar Rental Power