The Manufacturing Leader’s Guide to Building Confidence

When you walk onto the manufacturing floor in the morning, what happens? Are you type who loves to confidently strike up conversations with your team, or would you rather keep your head down and avoid conversations, especially when it comes to difficult topics like addressing an employee’s poor behavior?

If you’re the introverted type, you might think all hope is lost when it comes to building confidence. But confidence isn’t something you’re born with, according to confidence-focused coach—and recent Mindfulness Manufacturing guest—Tracy Hooper. In her podcast, Tracy highlights some great ways manufacturing leaders can improve their speaking skills, spark productive conversations, and approach every day as a confident leader.

Confidence Tip #1: The Power of Compliments

Starting conversations can be difficult, particularly if you’re talking to someone you don’t know very well. In situations like these, Tracy recommends kicking things off with a compliment. Authentic compliments that focus on behavior—like “great job getting those great results on line 3, second shift with no quality defects last week!”—are better than comments about the other person’s appearance, especially in situations where you don’t have a casual relationship with person you’re speaking to.

Confidence Tip #2: Find Your Magic Words

In his book Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact, author Phil Jones suggests “magic phrases” that manufacturing leaders can use to jumpstart great conversations. In her podcast, Tracy builds on this idea and adds some magic words of her own: “how” and “what.” By using questions like “how is that task coming along?” or “what are you working on this morning?” manufacturing leaders can easily start productive, open-ended conversations without making the other person feel defensive or criticized.

Confidence Tip #3: Learning Through Listening

As prolific interviewer Larry King once said, you can’t learn anything new when you’re always talking. This powerful quote also applies to manufacturing leaders, who can build confidence by listening to others. If you’re nervous about your own confidence, it can be all too easy to talk too much to cover it up. But by listening and allowing others to speak, you show your own confident and willingness to accept new ideas. If you’re someone who wants to grow your listening skills, Tracy’s tip is to practice the three-sentence rule. Say what you want to say in three concise sentences, then pause to let the other person speak.

Confidence Tip #4: Look Them in The Eyes

One of Tracy’s favorite confidence-building tips is also the simplest! When speaking to someone, don’t forget to make eye contact. This makes the other person feel valued and acknowledge, and will help you present yourself as a confident, engaged leader on the manufacturing floor.

Learn More on the Podcast

To learn more about Tracy Hooper and hear her other tips for building your confidence, check out her episode of the Mindfulness Manufacturing podcast!

At Manufacturing Greatness, Trevor Blondeel works with manufacturers to connect the top to the shop floor. If you’re ready to improve your own organization, contact Trevor to learn how Manufacturing Greatness can help you build stronger leaders and develop a dynamic, high-performing workplace.