In manufacturing, increased productivity means more money and a competitive edge, but how can you actually make it happen on the floor and amongst your teams? 

This is something I’ve been exploring with several of my clients recently, and I thought I’d share some of my knowledge and learnings in this area. 

One of the things I’ve found interesting over the course of my time in manufacturing is that everyone understands that they must have a productive workforce. To this end, they pour time and effort into talking about it and measuring it. But what comes next?



In a recent conversation, I was discussing the productivity of the technician team in a small business with the owner. The conversation was focused on the fact that his technicians were only being utilised approximately 50 per cent of the time he was paying them for. 

When he was asked what he wanted them to do, the answer was simply: ‘More of what I’m paying them for’! 

Of course, this is something we can all relate to. We all want to get the most out of employees to drive revenue and grow our businesses. It’s simple business sense. However, measuring the utilisation of the technicians did nothing at all for improving productivity. 



The only time measuring productivity helps is when it causes the business owner, leader or manager to ask, ‘Why is it like that?’, and secondly, ‘What would they be doing in that idle time if they were being productive?’ 

You need to be asking yourself these types of questions in order to make real changes and realise manufacturing productivity gains. 



Over many years, I’ve learned that a productive workforce comes down to staff understanding, attitude and mindset. 

  • Do your people know what’s required to be done every day to have a good day?
  • Do they know the standard of work required for a good day?
  • Do they know how their work contributes to creating a successful business and why their work is important?
  • Are they engaged in the work that you’re paying them to do?

Answering ‘yes’ to any of these questions indicates a high productivity team; answering ‘no’ indicates the opposite. 



It’s a leader’s responsibility to work with their team to ensure they can answer ‘yes’ to those key questions. Ultimately, you’re responsible for creating the conditions that boost productivity and for creating the conditions that crush it. 

In fact, Gallup research suggests that as much as 70 per cent of staff engagement – the predictor of productivity – is within a manager’s control. 

Too often, I’ve seen businesses focus on measuring precisely the right number to the second decimal point, yet they don’t stop to create meaning within their business. Neither do they take action to create a high productivity team.


From my experience, the most productive teams are those who know what they’re doing and what standard is required, have bought into why they’re doing it, and enjoy being successful in their work. So, if you’re looking for those productivity gains, working towards this status quo is probably the best place to start.

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