In the manufacturing western companies, the organization of people in production departments could be very different. Very often, a common aspect is the presence of a particular role: the Team Leader.
This role is not so clear as people can imagine. Sometimes he (or she) has hierarchical power on the employees, sometimes not. Sometimes he spends part of his time in production activities, sometimes not (as a “manager”).
This aspect can create confusion on the meaning of this role and the consequence question is: “Who is the Team Leader?” I think that every company can modify the specific meaning and tasks of its own Team Leaders, but there are common (but essential) aspects that every Team Leaders in every companies must have. These main tasks are:
1. Regular communication: every leader must have scheduled and unscheduled meetings to communicate to the employees the good and bad results and to discuss the consequence activities.. An efficient meeting is: direct, within the allocated time frame, with prioritised problems and activities, with countermeasures and activities jointly approved.
2. Employee development: in order to develop the workers, the leaders should create an atmosphere in which the workers feel that their ideas and problems will be listened to, and where they have the possibility to work on them. The leaders set individual and situational challenges and facilitate learning through insights, whereby they overcome difficulties with support.
3. Process Confirmation: through confirmation of the process the compliance to the standards is observed (work or workplace standards).
4. Continuous improvement: it is developed through workshops, where the leader is a part of the team, and able to be the mentor of the employees if necessary.
5. Problem solving: In the Mentor-Mentee dialog the worker is guided through the problem solving processes and develops his abilities to research and work scientifically. This process also helps the leader to develop his own experience and skills (e.g. develop the ability to actively listening).