Coaching on the Manufacturing Floor

Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp., USA

Background: Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp, U.S.A. (KMM), located in Maryville, Missouri is part of the Consumer Products Division of Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI). KMM produces small gasoline engines for products such as commercial lawn mowers, utility vehicles, and ATVs. The plant employs over 700 people and is one of Northern Missouri’s largest employers.

Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corporation
Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corporation

Challenge: For the past several years, KMM in Maryville has sought to formalize their performance management system and process. Formalizing the process would remove some of the perceived ambiguity and arbitrariness that employees feel and increase the consistency by which managers and supervisors manage the performance of their subordinates.

Donell Robidoux, Training Supervisor, working with Anita Coulter, HR Manager, took responsibility for leading the way for the organization to increase the productivity of employees through a more hands-on approach to performance management.

As part of the performance management initiative, Entelechy was asked to customize a training program that would increase the manager’s ability to manage the performance of their employees through coaching, feedback, and problem solving.

According to Steve Bratt, General Manager, “Most of our management staff have been promoted from within the company and do not have all of the skills or training that is needed to perform their duties.“

Solution: It was clear from discussions with all levels of management that there were specific behaviors and characteristics of effective managers – behaviors and characteristics that we would address in the Coaching for Performance training:

  • Being able to translate company goals and vision into action for subordinates is important for KMM leadership.
  • Technical and management credibility is extremely important for subordinates to respect and listen to and follow their superiors.
  • Managers need to manage. While that sounds obvious, managers – especially at the lower levels – need to lead, and not simply perform the work.
  • Coaching means many things to many people. We will distinguish from counseling, corrective action, feedback, and training.

To accommodate the three shifts of managers and supervisors, Entelechy created a modular program that could be delivered in four-hour sections. To address the different skill levels, Entelechy customized not only the content of its core management training program, but also modified several of its models to ensure that everyone would be able to apply these skills regardless of experience or level. For example, Entelechy simplified its coaching model (see graphic on right) and embedded new performance management tools that KMM had introduced earlier in the year.

The KMM coaching program included many reallife demonstrations and examples of skills as used on the manufacturing floor. Role plays and feedback ensured that all managers had the confidence and competence to develop the talent of their employees and to keep them fully engaged in their work and loyal to the company. And the Management Action Plan provided a tangible plan for each supervisor and manager to apply new skills to the job.

Entelechy delivered the training and then taught KMM’s trainers how to deliver the training as necessary for future managers and supervisors.

Results: Based on participant and leadership feedback, the results of the training are expected to be extremely positive. Donell Robidoux, Training Supervisor, commented about the training:

Wow. I hope you know what an impact your training has had. The timing of it really helped to make this stick. You may recall that our reviews have just been completed and many improvements were made during this process. I have heard from the Supervisors that their General Foreman has shared more during the review session, actually including the job description which some have never seen.

During the reviews that I shared with my staff, I really focused on catching the positives. The developmental items came much easier by using the coaching model and the process being a group effort. I really feel I have a more open relationship and dialogue.

Thanks again for everything.

Donell Robidoux
Supervisor, Training
Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp., USA

The following feedback came from one of the participating supervisors:

I want to let you know how much I both enjoyed and learned from your instruction. Since you shared with us how hard your staff works on these presentations, I am not sure who should be complimented on the content. However since it is your company, I can comfortably compliment you on your staff selection and the excellent presentation you made, regardless of the details.

I will be 63 years old this year and unsure of the time I have to spread the learning I have gotten from you, but I am sure that if I had this knowledge when I was 30, I could have changed the lives of a lot of people. I will however, use it to the best of my ability, for as long as I can and on as many people as possible. I am fortunate that I was chosen to attend this training, but much more fortunate in having this information and the effect it will have on how I conduct myself with our employees in the time I have remaining at Kawasaki. Thank you for what you have given me, and good luck in getting this message to others. We all need it!

Thank you,

Ray Tuggle, Supervisor

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Author: STEP Consulting

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