Our Secrets to Building Community in a Manufacturing Company. Shhhh....don't tell.

POST DATE Feb 06, 2015

AUTHOR

The first thing I ask of any company or business I'm considering working with is, “Does your company have a sense of community?” Modern Engineering works hard to build community and I'm proud to be part of it, as well as see the positive effects first hand.

I wanted to find out from our team what community means to them. So I took a quick stroll around Modern's shop and asked everyone, “What's the first word that comes to mind when you think of community?" I loved the answers I received. The words that popped up repeatedly were "Trust", "Teamwork", "Sharing", "Growing", "Fun" and "Caring".

And I believe every word they mentioned is required in order to create a great working environment. I've spoken before about “Creating a Team Atmosphere”, but feel the concept extends past the four walls of your building. Creating community is about engaging your staff, but it's also about your customers, vendors, industry and even your competition.

Building community helps your company gain respect. The more transparent you are as a company, the more your customers will trust you. The manufacturing industry, in general, is so dead-set on protecting secrets that companies fail to show off why they're special, and why customers should trust them to make their products! At Modern, we've chosen to go against the grain, and in addition to being transparent with our customers, we're also transparent with our staff and, yes, even our competition (within reason, of course).

Here are some of our secrets to creating the Modern community.

Share Your Knowledge

It's okay to help others build their business, by giving trade tips and tricks. Why not video your latest and greatest process? In the manufacturing world there is great fear around sharing information with others. Leaders and companies are so scared of their competition stealing their work that nobody helps one another anymore. This is actually more damaging to your company, the industry and the health of our North American manufacturing economy, than it is helpful. Modern Engineering is so busy growing, learning, innovating and moving ahead, that we don’t have time to worry about who's trying to copy us. And as Udo said in a recent blog, if you're always changing...your competition will always be two steps behind. At Modern we're committed to not only growing our business, but the manufacturing industry as a whole… especially in Canada.

Spend Time Strengthening Your Family

Families support one another, tell each other their problems and work together to solve them. Imagine how far your company could go if your employees worked together like a family? As an owner or manager, there's a lot you can do to help foster this environment. It means getting everyone involved and communicating, and in addition to strengthening your company, it can be a lot of fun. At Modern we hold monthly luncheons which are great for team building, and are simple to implement. Many of our employees enjoy getting involved in the planning process, as well as making appies and desserts to share. It creates a real family atmosphere, similar to sitting down for a family dinner, and works especially well when you have multiple departments that don't get to interact all that often. We also hold annual events, such as a winter party, and come up with activities and ideas that make it fun and different for everyone. We support fun activities such as sports pools, and although they may seem like a distraction, the benefits are more positive than negative. They keep people refreshed on the job as well as help build better communication between employees and managers, as it helps employees feel more comfortable communicating with their managers. Seeing a different, and personal, side of someone can really help build stronger relationships...and create the glue that keeps your family strong. I encourage you to try a simple event and see how it strengthens communication and team atmosphere within your company.

Expand Your Community

As I mentioned, building community goes beyond your building. At Modern Engineering we work hard to create community with our customers, competitors, suppliers and the industry by attending trade shows, industry events and reaching out through social channels like LinkedIn. We focus our efforts on building relationships, sharing ideas, offering solutions and connecting people in our network with each other. We get to know as many people as we can, on a personal and business level, so we can better understand their goals and challenges and how we can help support them. I encourage you to look outside your four walls and see how you can expand your community and create that "extended family" that you can trust and rely to always have your back.

So, those are a few of our secrets to building a stronger community. We'd love to hear yours. How do you build community within your organization? Let the sharing begin.

Author: Nicole Larson


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