A New Leadership Challenge: How to Support Your Workforce During COVID-19



remote-worker.jpgIn my role as a consultant at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, I work with leaders of companies to help them improve communication, culture and overall engagement among workers. While these aspects are typically challenging for any company to master in a normal environment, it becomes especially difficult during times such as these.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to heavily impact businesses, with operations partially or completely shut down and many team members working from home, leaders are left wondering how they can ensure employees are feeling valued, engaged and secure in their roles. While the pandemic has already caused much disruption and distress for manufacturers as they consider what the future holds, there are still ways companies can work right now to strengthen both their business and their workforce to better position themselves for the eventual return to normal operations.

For companies aiming to continuously improve operations and increase the skillsets of workers, now is an opportunity to invest in targeted training for all levels of the organization. To extend our expertise to manufacturers during this time, The Center has developed new free Distance Learning modules to support strategic training initiatives among manufacturers. This enables companies to further invest in the skillsets of workers and help them feel valued and motivated – without compromising their health or safety. Our first two course offerings, scheduled for this Thursday, include:

  • Project Management Tips, Tricks & Tools – Learn the typical reasons projects fail and what can be done to avoid them. The project management phases of Initiation, Planning, Execution, Controlling and Closing are broadly covered with practical tools shared for each.
  • Quality Policy Deployment for Quality Management Systems – Learn to develop and deploy a Quality Policy that provides a framework for objectives, and ensure those objectives align with the strategic business goals of the organization. Participants gain a clear understanding of the Quality Policy’s purpose and how it fits into the system.

These free webinars offer a unique opportunity to gain a glimpse into a number of The Center’s courses while discussing topics directly with instructors online. Additionally, participants who attend will earn a credit towards the full-length class scheduled later in the year.

In these difficult and unpredictable times, The Center is still ready and available to provide expert support and guidance to manufacturers in Michigan. For more COVID-19 resources for manufacturers, click here. Learn more about how The Center can support your company’s response efforts here.


westra_c-WEB.jpgCharlie Westra, Director of Manufacturing Services
As The Center's Director of Manufacturing Services, Charlie is responsible for overseeing 12 direct reports in the Manufacturing Services department. Charlie is dedicated to driving advancements in Michigan manufacturing, leading the effort to assist small to medium-sized manufacturers in applying Quality Management Systems, Lean Manufacturing and Transactional Tools & Techniques, Executive Coaching & Leadership Skills and Industry 4.0 manufacturing technology solutions. In addition to overseeing Manufacturing Services at The Center, Charlie provides management consulting to manufacturers, specializing in improving employee engagement with supervisory skills and leadership development. 



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Categories: Leadership/Culture, workforce