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April 1, 2008

3 Min Read
Setup: Work and earnings are more than statistics

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No shocker: Our annual salary survey, the seventh, shows that salaries continue to be more or less in sync with the U.S. economy. The average salary among survey respondents, a good cross-section of the molding industry, was up 6.6% in 2007 over 2006. But beneath the summary statistics lurks some thought-provoking and perhaps troubling information.

Virtually every top manager will admit that, even with the best technology serving a healthy market sector, it’s the people who are the decisive factor in a company’s fortunes. And since every moldmaking and molding shop is trying to run leaner, that would mean every person is a critical team member.

Yet, the average 2007 salary increase among the corporate managers responding to our survey was 9%, while for moldmakers and molding floor personnel, the average was 4% or less.

We’re not pointing that out because we’re the morality police (there are more than enough of those around already). However, we are noting that, within the realm of statistical reliability, this discrepancy in wage growth is widespread in our industry. And the newspapers tell us that this difference is mirrored in U.S. society at large. Safe to say, it is the opposite of a motivating factor for the rank and file.

That’s the main reason why the text accompanying the survey, which was written by industry consultant Woody Imberman, is a frank discussion of how to motivate employees—what works and what doesn’t. No surprise, it includes financial incentives, but also covers the importance of recognition, participation, training, and generally upgrading the skills and knowledge of each person in the building.

By the sheerest of coincidences, “The Troubleshooter” column by Bob Hatch, which this month makes its 100th appearance in IMM, offers still more enlightenment about employees. To mark the anniversary, we asked Hatch to comment on the state of the business and changes he has seen over his 45-year sojourn among the molds—and darned if he, too, didn’t speak about motivating employees. Hatch focuses on the transfer of knowledge, both the kind you get in a training session and what comes from someone with long experience. He also points to interdisciplinary training, specifically helping toolmakers understand the processing side.

And for one final dose on the subject, check out Parting Shots. Bill Tobin, who can be commended as much for his considerable industry and technical knowledge as for his unique (to say the least) viewpoints, wonders aloud why the basics, what everyone needs to know, are so often just plain missing.

Each of these authors hits subjects that you ought to be thinking about, along with the other 763 things on your to-do list. Each of them is talking about getting everyone in the shop to be a maximum contributor. When you’re at that point, business should be better. Then, as now, how you disburse the rewards is up to you.

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Rob Neilley, Editor in Chief
[email protected]

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