Thermoforming Report

November Thermoforming Report:

Creating, Building, and Keeping a Team

by Keith Brown, President & Owner, Siena Group.

November 2022.

Success in business is all about teams – creating them, building them up, and then nurturing them to perform at the highest levels. Hiring the right skills is one thing. Hiring the right person with skills that aligns well with the team and company culture is entirely different! There are plenty of smarter people out there who have written full theses on the topic of teams, but hopefully, the content below will provide a few good reminders for you.

Creating, Building, and Keeping a Team

Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” Steve Jobs

The truth is that teamwork is at the heart of great achievement.” John C. Maxwell

There is so much out there on teams – books, blogs, and more – from a variety of authors, journalists, business consultants, and more.

As a leader of a team or a team member – we usually are all included in both categories – I encourage you to seek out any number of resources to gain additional insight into the topic.

Creating a Team

My perspective comes from not only my 20+ years of experience in manufacturing but also my recent years of having conversations with senior leaders and business owners about their talent needs. 

It is never as simple as hiring a particular skill. That skill – and person – must also align with the culture AND the team. I learned back in my days with Kimberly-Clark via leadership training about forming, storming, norming, and performing. It’s an old idea (by American psychologist Bruce Tuckman, 1965) that identifies the various stages of a team. Each time a new person joins, the “FSNP” process starts over. How quickly you get to the Performing phase is a function of how well the new team member aligns with the team culture. 

I’m an Atlanta Braves fan and their General Manager, Alex Anthopoulos, is known as one of the best in baseball at what he does.  “Anthopoulos, when making his eminent trades, searches for players who better those around them” (from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

This is HUGE. A simple concept, but HUGE. Not everyone fits, even though they may have the right skill set and experience. Figuring this out is both a function of knowing your team very well and knowing what they need to be better. It isn’t necessarily easy, but it is critical to ensure you are bringing on the right talent at the right time that aligns in the right way to end up with something that is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Building a Team

Now that you’ve formed your team by hiring those very talented people, you need to figure out how to push through storming and norming into performing

You can’t do that from an office behind a screen. As leaders, we need to know what’s going on ~ the real stuff, not just what is reported up the food chain. That information, though valuable, is filtered and cleaned up a bit. Having a real pulse on how things are working only happens when you are engaged with the team. Be present. 

Two quick examples:  

  • In a testimonial about Alex Anthopoulos, starting Braves pitcher Ian Anderson (again from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) asserts: “He’s [Anthopoulos] always working, he’s always asking questions. You just get the sense that he knows everything that’s going on in the league, and that’s because he works at it. He wants to know what’s going on, he wants to have a good feel of what’s going on around him so he can make the best decisions, and I think that’s a great quality to have for a GM.” 
  • Another recurring theme among executives is the importance of keeping one’s eyes and ears open. Several leaders recommend regularly visiting various facilities, walking the shop floor frequently and getting an impression of how things are working, engaging with people at all organizational levels and of different tenures and backgrounds, building credibility and trust across the operation, and ensuring that the right teams are matched with the right tasks. (from a McKinsey article on “What COOs will need to succeed in 2023 and beyond”
Keeping a Team

[This section could be a blog post all its own!]

Motivation, recognition, accountability, and communication – all are hallmarks of successful organizations and teams. As an external recruiter working with many different kinds of companies, you learn to ask questions that dig into why an organization is great to work for, what makes them tick, their culture, and similar. You also work to learn those things that do not align well – the other side of the coin if you will.  And, as a headhunter seeking out great people, you learn to ask questions to probe into how things are going in their current company. 

For those that do not want to leave, it typically points to several things: 

  1. I have a great manager/boss/leader that really understands what’s going on and looks out for my career growth.” 
  1. I am challenged here and recognized for my effort and results.” 
  1. I really do not want to relocate at this time.” 

I know, that last one really doesn’t fit the theme… but it is definitely a sentiment I hear a lot and tends to point to someone that values their work/life balance. 

The Final Takeaway

Wrapping this all up, we can summarize it with a few quotes: 

“The strength of the team is each individual member.  The strength of each member is the team.”  Phil Jackson 

“I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I sure can pick smart colleagues.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt 

Creating, building, and keeping a team takes energy, effort, and focus.  It takes work… but it is worth it when it all comes together! 

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.

Phil Jackson, NBA legend/coach
  • Resin Report: Resin Prices Continue to Slide. via Plastics News.
  • Researchers Develop Plastic Film that can Kill Viruses Using Room Lights. via K.Mag.
  • Thermoplastics Parts Manufacturer Produces Lightweight, High-Strength Enclosures in Minutes. via Plastics Today
  • Five Ways to Enhance Foodservice Packaging Sustainability. via Plastics Today.
  • Supply Chain Survey Responses Indicates Major Shift Underway in U.S. Manufacturing. via CNBC.
  • Resin Price Report: Market Turns Slightly Bullish. via Plastics Today.
  • Plastic Bag Makers Challenge California Attorney General’s Recyclability Demands. via Plastics News.
  • The Good, the Bag, and the Ugly. Point of Pivot: 3D Printing vs. Injection Molding. via Plastics Today.
  • BLS Employment Report – October 2022. via MRINetwork.
  • Job Transition Insights
    Making a job change is a big deal! This article, written from the unique “both sides of the desk” perspective of a talent recruiting partner, brings wisdom and experience. via Siena Group.
  • HyperScaling CEOS & Teams Go Beyond Aspiration to Ascent
    This current article pinpoints six distinctive factors crucial to the success of fast-growth startups and how leaders can expedite these to fast-track their organizations’ success. via McKinsey.
  • How Utilizing Intrapreneurs Could Save Your Business
    Great business leaders need to identify and invest in the innovators within their organizations because these “intrapreneurs” {internal entrepreneurs} may be the key to drive success. via CEO Magazine.
  • Manufacturing’s Labor Challenge: How Technology Can Train, Attract, and Retain Workers
    Timely perspectives on how manufacturers can harness technology innovation to change the revolving door model. via Forbes.

Multi-Site Focused Process and Project Engineer: This gifted all-around Process Leader is a corporate engineer – one that can support and lead high-profile, large capital projects on one end and drive process improvements and new product implementations on the other. A major plus: he’s willing to travel!

Sales and Marketing Manager: This talented leader brings tremendous experience and expertise in thin-gauge custom thermoforming, thanks to quite literally growing up in the family business. With a significant understanding of the thermoforming process, he brings a much higher level of technical expertise and hands-on perspective that enables him to penetrate new markets and clients.

Design Engineer: This highly valued Design Engineer brings tremendous strengths & value given his skill and experience level in both heavy and thin gauge thermoforming. With strong skills in 3D printing, he is a methodical, no-nonsense leader, knows how to interface across levels, both internal and external, and gets things done ~ a great combination for this particular role.

VP of Global Supply Chain: This gifted executive has consistently delivered tremendous results over the course of her career. With more than 25 years of global experience in chemicals, plastics, and med device, she brings an extraordinary level of perspective to the table!

Click for more All-Stars.

At Siena Group, we are your Thermoforming Talent Partner. With more than 30 years of experience in manufacturing, hiring & recruiting talent, we bring a greater understanding of the companies we partner with and the candidates we pursue.

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