Citizens of the manufacturing sector are well accustomed to the 4Ms of manufacturing – man, machine, method, and materials. Any top corporate professional will emphasise the highest attention to man, and there is a very good reason to do so.
In essence, the 4Ms were coined to ensure that careful attention is given to each element’s functionality, readiness, and availability. Machines should always work properly, are regularly maintained, and capacity is available when needed. The same goes for the availability of materials as they have to be fit for use and kept in pristine condition when in storage.
The same needs are expected of human talent. However, unlike the other three, the management of people is as much an art form as it is a science. Steve Jobs once said, “It’s not about the money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it”.
Numerous articles and journals have been written on the subject of human resource management. HR managers in the automotive sector are well versed with the standard framework and methods, such as training needs analysis, workforce planning, recruitment, performance management, etc.
Despite the above, the underlying factor that company managers must monitor is employee motivation. This factor requires all managers, not just human resources, to master the art of employee relations.
Motivated employees are the main, if not key contributors to an organisation’s success. They ensure that results are achieved, and are in constant search of ways to improve results. Businesses also benefit from lower employee turnover, improved efficiency and higher productivity.
Furthermore, employee morale must not only be sustained during good economic times, but becomes extremely crucial when times are bad, to ensure longevity and sustainability of a business going through tough times.
The study of employee management requires a keen understanding of effective management-employee relations. Employees are motivated by many factors, which may include working culture, freedom to make important decision, the constant need for challenge, and also financial stability.
This makes it crucial to identify incentives that result in high motivation, which defers from employee to employee, making a company-wide motivation framework lie in the hands of direct superiors, and not just top management policies alone.
An important aspect is effective communication. The advent of communication technology, in particular social networks, has made the spread of information much easier. However, the management of online communication must overcome the dehumanization that arises from a lack of face to face contact with employees, which is vital for the personal development of an employee’s career.
Management style also plays an important role in employee motivation. Leaders are drivers of creativity, innovation and professionalism. Therefore, it is important for managers to identify the incentives needed to constantly motivate their subordinates to achieve desired results.
The upgrading of lifestyles since the turn of the century requires managers to revisit the way we manage behaviour. The days where traditional, hierarchical management styles may no longer be compatible with the personalities of today’s youth. Management styles must also adapt to remain competitive, and we have seen companies competing to become “best employers”, to ensure higher retentions and attracting the best talent.
The motivation of people is not just the industry’s responsibility to shoulder. As a nation, we must engineer our society towards success-oriented mindsets, and not be limited to measuring success by financial figures alone. This writer urges all stakeholders to create environments that value innovation, performance and professionalism as benchmarks of success, so that the incentives associated with motivation are accessible to all.
“Success is a journey, not a destination”.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute