How to Be a Good Plant Manager
Charged with overseeing the operations of a plant, a plant manager spends her day juggling different responsibilities and working closely with a wide assortment of people. The best plant managers utilize a combination of manufacturing experience, attention to detail and people skills to perform effectively.
Qualities of a Good Plant Manager
- Attention to detail: A detail-oriented individual will find it easier to make note of items and follow up on them, whereas a free thinker may miss important details.
- Good computer skills: To manage inventory and personnel effectively, a plant manager may need to check figures, run reports and enter notes in proprietary software applications. Good computer skills facilitate these tasks and make other aspects of work run smoothly.
- Budgeting and accounting skills: Many plant managers are responsible for working with and reporting on a budget. Comfort with numbers and familiarity with accounting and finance software are essential.
- Public speaking skills: A plant manager may be called upon to perform public relations or serve as media spokesman on behalf of the plant. Accordingly, public speaking skills—including persuasive speaking and the ability to see both sides objectively—serve her well.
- Managerial skills: The plant manager relies on an administrative team as well as departmental heads to perform her job. As such, management skills will help the plant manager perform at a higher level and lack of these skills may hinder plant operations.
- Personal accountability: Since the safety and security of a plant and its workers depend upon the manager, it should go without saying that a plant manager needs accountability and integrity to succeed.
Tips and Tricks for Plant Managers
- Make use of programmable electronic systems (PES): These tools are increasingly used at plants to implement needed safety measures in complex machinery. Devote the time to mastering a PES early in the job, then reap rewards of efficiency down the road.
- Label effectively for workplace transparency: When shifts change, valuable information may not reach all workers. Enforce consistent use of identification products to label items in the plant with regard to safety, status and other important information.
- Become an effective manager: When plant managers rise through the ranks, they generally learn some aspects of managing on the job. However, not all plant managers are natural-born managers and some may find that a little training in management styles goes a long way toward working with support staff.
- Reward productivity: The more productive each department of the plant, the more orders can be processed in a day. A plant manager should know the productivity of each department and create workplace incentives that reward employee productivity.
- Assess performance and adapt as needed: Plants are shifting environments and plant managers may have to do more with less. As a plant manager, know how to assess performance through qualitative and quantitative measures and how to make changes to bring performance in line with goals.
Many plant managers must take regular continuing education classes on aspects of business management, plant management, human resources and project management. Often, these classes can help fill in the gaps in education or experience so that a plant manager can perform all needed areas of the position.