How to Move into Manufacturing Management

image of worker in manufacturing management role holding clip boardIf you’ve worked on the production floor for a while, you’ve likely seen some of your colleagues get promoted into supervisory positions. Perhaps you’re considering the possibility of a move into a management role as well.

What is it that sets the average production line worker apart from a management-level employee? What skills do you need to be considered for a move into manufacturing management?

How to beat out external candidates

If you’re seeking a move up the ladder into management, there is good and bad news. The bad news is that you will compete with external candidates that probably have more experience in management than you.

Those external candidates also may have an educational background that you’re missing. The good news, though, is that you know the company, how they work, what matters to your employers, and what the challenges are. It’s good to be on the inside.

But how can you compete with an outsider that has experience or credentials that make them look, on paper at least, a little shinier and brighter? The answer is, first, to seek a promotion to a supervisory role.

Becoming a team leader is a prerequisite in most companies before going into management. Think strategically about the skills you’ll need to become a shift leader. The first question to ask yourself is whether you exhibit leadership skills.

  • Are you the kind of employee that other workers look to for advice?
  • Is your attitude positive?
  • Have you made suggestions that help the organization work more efficiently or helped fix any production problems affecting the team’s output?

If you can say “Yes” to these questions, you’ve got some skills that your employers will value.

Once you’ve done this self-assessment, ask yourself this: Have you discussed your desire to move up the ladder with your boss? One way to beat out external candidates, as an insider, is to make use of the fact that your voice can be heard — as long as you’re willing to use it.

Do you need more education to be promoted?

Employers increasingly seek out managers with higher education degrees and certifications. Most employers want at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration or industrial engineering. Larger plants may even prefer a graduate degree, so it’s a good idea to make “never stop learning” your mantra.

According to O*NET, 42% of production managers have a bachelor’s degree, 30% have some college with no degree, and 15% have an associate’s degree. What resources, beyond your local community college, exist to help improve your CV?

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • The Association for Supply Chain Management is a great resource for certifications in production inventory management (CPIM), supply chain (CSCP), and logistics and distribution (CLTD). These credentials can shore up your resume faster than a bachelor’s degree, which typically takes three or four years to complete.
  • Coursera is a great resource for online classes in manufacturing management. Many of these classes are free, but if you want a certificate to add to your resume, there is a fee.
  • Lean Six Sigma remains a gold standard for business-related methodologies and tools to streamline processes and improve productivity. You can take these classes online, and, while they are not cheap (ranging from $250 to $600), these are important credentials that most employers recognize.
  • EdX is another great online resource where many of the classes are free. You can audit Harvard and MIT classes in manufacturing systems and operations management.
  • OSHA even has online classes in on-the-job worker safety — a necessary knowledge base for any manufacturing manager.

As you’re working to improve your credentials, it’s also a good idea to make sure you’re honing those all-important soft skills that many employers are interested in these days.

Top skills necessary to be promoted to manufacturing management

Job-related technical skills are important if you want to beat out the competition and get promoted into management. But that’s only one side of the coin when it comes to the skills you’ll need to get promoted.

Production, supply chain, warehouse, and manufacturing managers all need to exhibit a great set of soft and hard skills to do well in the job. For example:

  • Interpersonal skills like communication and collaboration will help you work well across the different teams within your purview.
  • Leadership skills will help you keep things running smoothly as you motivate and direct the employees you’re managing.
  • Troubleshooting and problem-solving skills are important for identifying issues, fixing them, and keeping things moving forward.
  • Time-management is a critical strength you’ll need to meet production deadlines.

Establish a professional reputation at your company, while working on improving your credentials. Make sure you are dependable and cooperative. However, if you feel like you’ve worked hard to make your way up the management chain and you’re stuck, perhaps it’s time for a change of venue.

That’s where TERRA Staffing can help. We work closely with top manufacturing companies and align them with the right talent for a variety of roles.  Talk with our team, make a plan, and keep moving forward.

TERRA has offices in the Seattle-Puget SoundPortlandPhoenix, and Denver areas, and our expert team of recruiters is eager to be both a partner and a resource in your job search.

We can help you find the right fit.

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