The Power of Mentorship in Manufacturing

This article appeared in the Mar/Apr 2024 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

Mentorship holds diverse meanings across various industries, including manufacturing. At its core, mentoring conveys a powerful message to your team — a message of care, commitment and a willingness to invest in their growth.

This commitment to the team, the organizational culture and individual success makes mentoring a versatile tool applicable to specific groups or company-wide. It adds depth and integrates a fundamental value of success into the organizational fabric. The essence of mentoring lies in teaching, training and engaging people. It not only elevates team leaders by providing valuable leadership opportunities but also imparts essential job skills to less experienced team members.

Mentoring in the manufacturing industry can be defined as a structured and collaborative partnership between an experienced and knowledgeable individual (mentor) and a less experienced or novice individual (mentee), with the goal of transferring industry-specific skills, knowledge and insights. In the context of the manufacturing sector, mentoring aims to support the professional and personal development of the mentee by leveraging the mentor’s expertise in areas such as production processes, quality control, safety protocols and overall industry best practices.

In addition to transferring knowledge and retaining legacy workforce skills, mentoring improves operator retention. These benefits are an impetus to drive manufacturers of all sizes to build or sharpen their employee training process.

Mentor-Training starts with coaching for the Trainer. It is critical to avoid a haphazard approach fraught with unclear roles and hand-offs and replace it with a defined path and job-specific knowledge blocks that can be efficiently conveyed to new operators and technicians. The process starts with a manageable, scaled approach , in which two or three pilot work-stations or jobs are collaboratively selected. Then define a ‘job-training toolbox’ for each job. This ‘toolbox’ should include what to train, when to train and why each task or job requirement is important

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While training new or transferred employees, associated checklists in the ‘job-training toolbox’ should validate competency and drive continuous improvement of the training process.

This training process provides new employees with job-specific training while engaging them in a way that improves morale, retention and productivity.

Feedback from the trainers, mentees, CEOs and human resource management affirm that this training process improves retention, accelerates new employee productivity and maximizes the “out of the gate” potential of a skilled workforce. According to Dan Walker, PhD, Director of Continuous Improvement at PolyFlex Products in Farmington Hill, “The formalized training process helps us to assess which of our new employees have greater potential for further growth.”

Mentorship is an investment in your company, people, and organizational culture to succeed with the inherent challenges in manufacturing.

A well-designed mentoring and training process provides leadership opportunities and imparts essential skills to team members. Mentoring helps new employees understand the importance of the tasks they are doing and excel in their roles. The payoff for the time invested includes increased productivity and developing a front-line workforce, supervisors and leaders who are engaged with their jobs and working well together to grow the business.

About the Author

Elizabeth SollishElizabeth Sollish is a Client Engagement Manager with The Luminous Group. She can be reached at 248-505-7636 or

Premium Associate MemberThe Luminous Group is an MMA Premium Associate Member and has been an MMA member company since December 2017. Visit online: