I recently read that when workers see who is using the end product that they are working on their productivity increases by up to 10%. This factor applies to a range of occupations from how it affects people working on medical devices when they see in real life how their devices are used to save people to migrant workers who get the chance to see that the fruits and vegetables they picked are eaten by the consumers and how important they are to those consumers
In all aspects of life, people will always feel gratified to the point of pride when they see how they have contributed to the good of the world.
In our current world, consider the pride that those workers who have been manufacturing respirators during the pandemic feel when they can see and hear about the importance of their products on the news. There is even a factory in Maine, now two actually, who are producing those long Q-tip type swabs used in Covid testing. They are working 24/7 getting those out. They have been lauded by everyone from the media to the ex- president himself who visited their factory last year. Those people were filled with what we call “Pride of Product”.
In our own PCB industry, there should be a great deal of pride of product. We are certainly contributing to the rest of the world’s improvements and our industry is at the forefront of essential as well as innovative products.
Without the PCB we would not have had space exploration, we would not have developed computers and PC’s and Smartphones, and electric and autonomous vehicles. And without the PCB we would not be able to produce the products of the future that many companies are working on today.
For some reason we tend to forget that. Going back to my original premise, we’re certainly not doing a good job when it comes to instilling a pride of product into our work teams.
Whenever I walk into a PCB fab house for the first time, I am always amazed by two things. The first is the truly stunning array of customers and end products that the circuits boards they are producing contribute to; and the second is how blasé the people who work there are about it, if they even realize what they are actually working on, which most times they do not.
Very often when I walk the floor talking to their work teams I am once again amazed at how little the people actually building these products know about where they are going.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s me. Am I the only one who considers it truly wonderful that a little shop in Chicago can be building PCBs that are going in a new product that will speed up by ten fold the time it takes for DNA testing? Or the company in Atlanta that is building boards for a company in Boston that is working on an all-electric-all wireless house? Or the company in Milwaukee that built the boards that went into the guidance control system for Raytheon’s Tomahawk missile?
What is up with that? Does our industry have such an inferiority complex that we are under-impressed with the fabulous products we are contributing to?
Have we been deemed so insignificant that we have lost the actual pride of product that we are rightfully due?
Have our customers so commoditized our technology and our products that we ourselves have had a drink of their kool-aid and honestly have lost touch with how important our product actually is for the good of the world?
Whatever the reason, let’s do something about it. Our industry has a lot to be proud about so let’s concentrate on that. Let’s start focusing on the innovative and ingenious products we have made significant contributions to in the past and are working on for the future.
Here are a few ways we can do that:
- Let your team know what they are working on. Many times, the team on the floor does not even realize what these “cards” (Ugh, I hate that expression) are going into. Ask your customers for posters and other marketing collateral they have about their products. Post these all over your plant to show people who their end customers are and what amazing products they are working on.
- Invite your customers to come in and talk to your team about their products. Invite one of your customers to your next all hands meeting and ask them to speak to your team about the important contribution they are making to the success of their product.
- Hold an employee open house one weekend day. Create an event where your employees can invite their families to come into your facility, the place where most of them spend more waking time than they do with their families. Let them show their families where they work, what they do and the important products they are working on.
Listen, if, as I stated earlier, the workers who pick our food can be inspired by seeing how the food is used, think how inspired the members of our work teams will be after they realize that the products they are making have taken us to Mars! It’s only common sense.