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8 Facts About Continuous Improvement Managers

Companies are always looking to make their manufacturing plants more efficient. Manufacturing efficiently can help cut costs, reduce the amount of ingredients used and reduce environmental impact.

However, when you work in a production plant you can get caught up in the day to day causing you to lose perspective of the bigger picture. That’s why companies hire professionals who make it their jobs to pay attention to the bigger picture and look at ways to make plants more efficient.

There are many occupations in the food industry that don’t have enough of a spotlight placed on them and one of them are continuous improvement managers. These managers are responsible for building and maintaining improvement processes.

1. Continuous improvement managers improve performances

Continuous Improvement Managers (CIM):

lead, coordinate and manage teams at manufacturing facilities. They use business improvement techniques such as the six sigma and the pillars of continuous integration to implement improvements and procedures. Overall, they improve the productivity of food factories, which could lead to higher margins, less waste and better worker relations.

Additionally, CIMs develop standard business processes in order to create a baseline in which everything can be compared to. They develop these standard processes by collecting and analyzing data. Finally, they work heavily with all personnel in the company, recommending and developing improvements. They also train staff on new processes to ensure the highest levels of productivity.

2. Continuous improvement managers have a knowledge of business improvement techniques

CIMs are responsible for streamlining work and reducing waste. Having a substantial knowledge in a wide range of business improvement techniques is an essential component of streamlining work. Some common business improvement techniques used by these professionals include:

  • Total Productive Maintenance: A holistic approach to equipment maintenance that emphasizes proactive and preventative maintenance to maximize the efficiency of equipment.
  • Lean Techniques: A set of techniques that improve performance in the manufacturing of food.
  • Six Sigma: A set of techniques used to improve processes within an organization by identifying errors or defects in a business to eliminate them.

Check out our mentorship series with CareersNow! on interviews with professionals in continuous improvement

3. Continuous improvement managers need to have project management experience

A successful CIM needs to have a strong ability to lead projects. Every time a new improvement initiative begins, so does a project. CIMs ensure that projects are completed by knowing what needs to be done, how it needs to be done and when it needs to be done by. Think about this on the grand scale of a food manufacturing facility. There are a lot of moving parts and people!

Successful project management doesn’t just come from the classroom, but also with years of experience in the workplace. CIMs typically start within other roles in the company building their resume through other projects.

4. Continuous improvement managers have a range of educational backgrounds

This profession is typically not one that a new graduate enters right after school. They need to build up experience within the food industry and relevant manufacturing industries. Years of working experience gives individuals a better view of the big picture and places where improvements could occur.

As a result, CIMs have a wide range of educational backgrounds. Some examples include engineering, business, science or data science. Work experience is more valuable than education in this position. Potential employers judge the credibility of candidates by examining their past projects. They look for concrete numbers that demonstrate correct management and the implementation of projects.

5. Continuous improvement managers are leaders

In order to drive improvements across a business, CIMs must be able to lead teams effectively. They create plans and understand how team members deliver results, simultaneously providing encouragement and constructive feedback. Through their actions, they create and maintain credibility across all levels in the business. Without good leadership, any process attempted upon will fail.

Illinois Institute of Technology offers online employee development programs in Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Six Sigma. Knowledge that is required for this career path!

6. Continuous improvement managers are proficient in data systems

CIMs work with a variety of data including daily production, product defect tracking and energy efficiency. Collecting data allows CIMs to monitor costs and the performance of a project, as well as translate the data into recommendations for improvement. However, collecting data is just one piece of the puzzle. Improvement managers must know how to interpret this data using programs such as Excel, SAP, Minitab.

7. Continuous improvement managers are excellent communicators

Being able to communicate important details in improvement programs is an essential skill for CIMs. These professionals know how to communicate the “why” of any process improvement and help employees to understand it. Communicating the “why” encourages motivated employees and allows management to meet company goals. Effective communication leads to the overall success of a project and makes them more cost-efficient.  

8. Continuous improvement managers are problem solvers, leaders and organized individuals

Being a continuous improvement manager requires a wide range of skills. However, there are a few which are more essential than others. These skills include:

  • Problem solving – Because CIMs are responsible for streamlining operations, they need to be able to identify problems and possible solutions. Effective problem solving involves identifying issues, understanding everyone’s interests, and evaluating options. A CIM uses all of these steps when trying to improve a process.
  • Organizational skills – CIMs juggle various projects at once. To do this effectively, they must be organized both with their physical and online belongings, as well as have an organized calendar which they live by. 
  • Talent management – These professionals know how to bring out the best in a person. They focus on talent multiplication and the utilization of individuals’ experiences. Using these experiences, they tailor training to those who want to learn.

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