With competition for quality machinists and operators only intensifying, shops cannot afford to spend the time and resources finding them, only to let them to flounder when they arrive. The path of least resistance—“meet your boss, Adam…here’s your station”—may be tempting in a high-paced environment, but it’s not the best solution. That isn’t to say new employees need to be coddled or handled with kid gloves, we’re talking about grown ups and professionals here, but the early days of employment are critical to future success. New machinists grow into their most productive selves when they have a holistic understanding of the business. Knowing the “why” behind what you do empowers them to recognize opportunities for efficiency and elevate potential solutions. Provide them with these tools and experiences as you get them up to speed and the possibilities are endless. Here are nine things you can do to help new machinists and operators thrive at your shop, in their early days and beyond.
Introductions Simple, fast but seriously impactful, walking a new person around the shop and shaking some hands goes a long way toward building relationships. The new guy is much more likely to be greeted with a helping hand than curiosity and skepticism.
A mentor Pairing a seasoned machinist with your newest ones is a powerful way to get team members up to speed. They’ll learn how things work, both in terms of process and equipment, and be able to contribute faster. The longer the relationship is maintained, the more dividends you’ll see.
Direction When a new person comes on board, have a plan for what they’ll work on before they begin. Whether it’s a certain batch you know is coming down the pipeline, or you just want them to shadow your best guy for a week, having it outlined makes life easier on managers and operators alike.
Purpose Providing context for the work you do, the customers you have and the priorities of the business is supremely motivating. It’s especially so for younger workers who are increasingly inspired by meaningful work and less by financial reward.
Visibility to the shop’s workflow A centralized workflow system not only introduces efficiencies into the operation, but also introduces newcomers to the kind of work, pace and capabilities of the shop. Look to implement tools that not only consolidate workflow management, but also provide transparency.
Quick and easy access to tool and cutting data Joining a new team is daunting enough, but learning a whole new tooling inventory is even more difficult. Having a single digital resource or programming platform with data preloaded makes finding and calculating speeds and feeds easier on everyone, especially new machinists.
Simple programming tools Any new employee is going to feel pressure to perform early. This can lead to mistakes. Programming platforms that are touch-based and highly visual relieve some of that pressure because they are intuitive and have a lower learning curve.
Opportunities away from the machine Programming and setting up in the machine requires intimate knowledge of tooling, machinery and materials. By allowing for new hires to set up, program and model offline, small errors aren’t magnified and they can build confidence. New software solutions and programming tools are enabling this. When the time comes for them to work at the control, they’ll be ready.
Consistency The more tools you can have that work together seamlessly, from cutters to modeling programs, the less a new person has to learn in order to be productive. Presetter, programming tools or verification software—the more of it that can work together, and with the hardware on the floor, the better. In today’s competitive environment, retaining quality employees when you find them is crucial to long-term success. Putting machinists in a situation to succeed early on, with a combination of tools that are easy to learn, low-pressure situations and organized processes demonstrates respect and commitment—just the kind of things that result in happy and loyal employees.