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Manufacturers seeking managers with better people skills

New research shows British manufacturers are increasingly looking for a new generation of leaders with strong motivational and communication skills, rather than technical knowledge or qualifications.

With the short-term challenges such as the energy crisis, labour shortages and economic difficulties competing against a raft of longer-term issues such as net zero and digitalisation, it is now more crucial than ever for manufacturers to have effective leaders to steer the ship.

However, new research published by Make UK shows that leaders also need to be skilled at taking their employees with them on the journey.

When senior decision makers were surveyed about the most important qualities when deciding which employees are promoted to management positions, having ‘people skills’ was seen as most crucial factor – far ahead of more traditional concerns such as technical skills, professional qualifications and length of service.

Good people skills, including clear communication skills and an ability to genuinely connect with employees, is seen as particularly important in an era when employees are placing a premium on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Similarly, the increasing importance of environmental and social issues to stakeholders means leaders need to be more holistic in their approach to business, the report states.

Bhavina Bharkhada, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Make UK, commented:

“Given the challenges companies are facing, the increasing complexity of modern manufacturing, and the demands of employees and investors, management and leadership skills have never been more important for manufacturers.

“As a result, companies are moving away from relying on just the technical skills to get the job done or, rewarding length of service, and towards those employees who make better humans. Motivation, ambition, and communication skills, together with the ability to act as a ‘North Star’ to employees, are now seen as far more import attributes in leaders and managers of the next generation.”


Our Manufacturing Advisors can work with you to boost productivity and performance through effective staff engagement techniques for meetings, performance reviews, visual management, factory walks, and more. Get in touch today to arrange a one-to-one diagnostic.

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