If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably seen some themes emerge over the past year. We’ve talked plenty about the ways in which automated technology can elevate your operations in terms of production speed, quality and consistency. We’ve likewise spent a lot of time focused on how you can meet changing demands for energy-efficient windows, including the implications of the new ENERGY STAR 7.0 criteria.

But sometimes it’s worth reminding ourselves how important the human element is to leveraging new technologies and seizing new opportunities successfully. Your people are the heart of your operation, and their ability to freely collaborate, share ideas and work toward a collective goal is critical to your ongoing success. And that brings us to today’s tip:

Don’t downplay the impact of collaboration.

I’ll admit that this might at first just sound like common sense. Collaboration simply means working together—isn’t that what your employees are meant to be doing in the first place?

But across numerous different tasks that must be completed on your shop floor, throughout multiple departments, covering different product lines … it can become a bit more complex. For example, your shipping department needs to have a clear expectation of how many units are coming out of production on a given day to operate at peak efficiency. Are those two departments working together regularly to achieve the desired outcomes?

One way to make sure your answer to this question remains a clear and confident “yes” is to unite your teams toward a clear, shared purpose because it’s easier for people to work together when they’re working to achieve a common goal.

It’s easy to take as a given that all employees know your company’s purpose or are working toward a shared goal. Let’s consider another example from the other end of the plant floor: Your receiving teams are primarily concerned with getting your raw materials off the truck and not giving much thought to whether orders are getting out on time on the other end.

Getting your employees to see the bigger picture—that everyone is part of delivering quality products to your end customers—increases the likelihood they’ll take a personal stake in what’s happening at every stage of your operation. And when that happens, they’re more likely to work collaboratively, sharing ideas and insight in making a quality product.

John Ryba is Technical Services Manager for Quanex.

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