Bridge Insights

12 Soft Skills to Look for in Your Next Plant Manager

Nov 21, 2019

Plant managers oversee and organize the daily operations within a manufacturing facility.  They manage employees, oversee production, and make sure all safety precautions are being followed.  Without an effective plant manager, it’s easy for your operations to lack efficiency, have unmotivated employees, and have copious amounts of missed deadlines.

From our 30 years of staffing experience, we have compiled 12 soft skills every successful plant manager possesses.

[blockquotes]A plant manager with the right overall skill set will take your manufacturing department from average to amazing.[/blockquotes]

1. Leadership

The plant manager is responsible for the successes and failures within a manufacturing facility. It is important to have a plant manager with strong leadership qualities that include giving clear direction, thinking proactively, and a high sense of accountability.

2. Adaptability

In the world of manufacturing, things are always changing. It is important to have a plant manager who can adjust and move forward when changes happen; if they are able to anticipate change and adjust beforehand, even better. By hiring a plant manager who is uncomfortable with change, they will have a difficult time switching gears quickly, and thinking on their feet. Having someone like this on your team also means they are more likely to be a roadblock when it comes to operational changes and the forward progress of your business.

3. Motivational

Plant managers are also responsible for leading a team, which requires the skills to cultivate those who report to them to be their best. Successful leaders will challenge their employees to grow in their career and will genuinely want their employees to do better. Having this positive influence leading the charge on your plant’s floor will keep your plant operations moving forward, encourage employee productivity as well as operational improvements.

4. Forward Thinking

An effective plant manager is someone who plans for the future as opposed to reacting to the past. Someone who can think two steps ahead and make goals for the future will be able to accomplish more and have a less stressed staff, since they won’t be constantly scrambling to put out fires.
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5. Decisive

Plant managers are faced with some tough decisions. To be successful, a plant manager must be able to assess a situation and come up with the best course of action possible.

6. Organization

Effective plant managers have to juggle a lot of plates. Someone who is organized in thoughts, processes, floor tasks and workflow, and inventory management is critical in driving efficiency and, ultimately, revenue.

7. Time Management

Time management is another vital soft skill every plant manager should have. Every plant has specific deadlines for when orders need to be completed and sent out. If someone does not have strong time management skills, your plant’s deadlines could easily be missed, which will result in extra financial expenditures and upset clients.

8. Trust

A successful plant manager is able to delegate tasks to their team members. Someone who tries to handle everything on their own simply will be unable to complete every task accurately and on time. Additionally, they send the message to their employees that they are not trusted or competent enough to handle these tasks, so not only will this dynamic hinder production output, but it will significantly hamper employee welfare.
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9. Conflict Management

With so many people with different personalities working closely together in a fast-paced environment, tensions can run high. The Plant Manager needs to be able to identify conflicts, address them, look for a deeper root cause, and find a resolution to keep their team performing at their best.

10. Negotiation

Plant managers may need to deal with vendors who provide services within the plant. Sometimes, a plant manager may have to negotiate with these vendors to find better deals or to continue with existing ones. In these moments, negotiation skills are key to ensuring you are getting the best price for your products’ components.

11. Communication

Pant managers need to have strong communication skills. Since the plant manager in many ways is the heart of your operations, they need to be able to maintain positive relationships, effectively communicate expectations, and clearly articulate information with everyone at your company –regardless of job level.

12. Financial Management

More often than not, plant managers will need to be involved with business finances. Since they are responsible for the plant’s operations, they would need to be involved in the acquisition of plant supplies and equipment to keep production on-line. They should be able to properly allocate the plant’s funds to ensure they are used properly and in the most effective way.

In Conclusion

When you start the interview process with candidates for your next plant manager opening, consider these soft skills along with the required working skills, and prepare questions ahead of time that you want to ask them. Someone who has the right overall skill set will take your manufacturing department from average to amazing by creating cost savings, and outproducing your competitors. By focusing on the soft skills above during an interview, it will weed out the individuals who are all “talk” and narrow your candidate pool down to the best of the best.