Empower your team
Josef Kořístek sets up a new production line for thermal management modules at Schaeffler’s new Svitavy plant in the Czech Republic in 2017. Teamwork is called for – from individual employees to team and production leaders right up to the plant management.
Building production facilities, eliminating growing pains, allocating staff as needed: Setting up a new production facility is a multifaceted project. This is also true for regard to Schaeffler’s new plant in Svitavy, Czech Republic, which is located about 220 kilometers east of Prague. For segment managers such as Josef Kořístek, two things are particularly important in this context. Firstly, always keeping track of things and setting the right priorities: What should be done next? And secondly, it is crucial to master the challenges ahead by working together as a team.
One of the first tasks for Kořístek and his team is to construct a production line for thermal management modules to be used in engines made by a major Japanese automobile manufacturer. The modules control heat distribution in the engine. The goal is to heat up the right areas in the engine as quickly as possible and thus reduce fuel consumption and the engines’ CO2 emissions. Several thousand of these modules are to be manufactured in Svitavy every day and then shipped to Japan.
Kořístek gets to work. He sets up the production line in collaboration with assembly and injection molding specialists, works through the individual production steps with colleagues from quality assurance, discusses logistics processes with material requirement planners, and gradually puts together the team together with his production manager. “Our job was to set up production from scratch to comprise three shifts, each consisting of 30 people, all within a relatively short period of time so that we could supply the volumes our customer needs,” reports Kořístek. “This sort of thing only works if everyone gets involved, from myself, to production and team leaders and every single employee, also including the corporate departments, which take care of employee training and education.”
We need an environment in which everyone can say what’s on their mind.
For Josef Kořístek, teamwork means one thing above all: Trust and mutual respect. To build trust, each individual employee must feel that they are taken seriously. “We need an environment in which everyone can say what’s on their mind,” emphasizes Kořístek. “It is particularly important to talk about things openly from the very beginning and not to conceal anything, for example because there is not enough time for discussions .” That’s why Kořístek meets with each of his employees once a month to discuss the work and tasks ahead. In addition, every quarter there is a round-table meeting with all employees to explain such things as the three-month plan for production or the bonus system, for example.
Kořístek’s next goal is to introduce the 5S method. This is a systematic approach that allows employees to design their own workplace in such a way that they can concentrate optimally on value-adding activities. It is up to every individual to decide how they wish to implement this concept. Kořístek is convinced that teams work best when all members feel they are involved.