T-Shirt Forums banner

Mass Production - how do I motivate staff to get them producing at acceptable levels

7917 Views 46 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  ino
We had a LOT of shirts to do this week. We are on schedule, but just as we start one job- another comes in this week. We worked till 9:30pm last night.
My problem is this, my guys seem to think that because there are a lot of shirts on the tables, that we have printed a lot of shirts. What I mean is that my machine is capable of printing 600 plus shirts per hour. I would expect 360-400/hr consistent over a shift, given the right circumstances and volumes.
With this current workload, we should be at 350-400 pcs/hr for sure.
We are at 270 pcs/hr for today. This is not acceptable for me. How do I motivate my help and make them understand how many shirts can and should be done in a day on an auto. Pics inside.


See less See more
1 - 20 of 47 Posts
Re: Mass Production

Tell them straight how many minimum you need them to produce in an hour and maybe offer an incentive, give a bonus for every shirt they print over the minimum amount, but make it achievable, then if they thrash that target set it a bit higher or give them a higher incentive for the next target until you are happy with the level they are printing at.

If you get the shirts done in a shorter time you won't have to pay them extra overtime to stay late and finish.

Most people are motivated by a bonus.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Re: Mass Production

As well as what Lee has suggested, I should also take a look at the ergonomics of the workplace. Is time being used ineffectively by having to walk distances to get at the shirts? Even an extra couple of foot adds up to a momentous amount of time during an eight hour shift. Look to see if there are other practical things slowing them down. Good ergonomics speed up the production process, reduce operator fatique and generally make for a better working environment.

Drop on a machine with them yourself for an hour, just to establish both to your workers and yourself, that 360 tees an hours is a realistic goal. There is no arguing with the figures then.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Re: Mass Production

You can always fire them all and do it yourself or hire new workers!!!!

Just kidding!!!! But, like Will said, do it yourself with them to show them that it can be done. Tell them what you expect and make it reachable.

Also, don't forget that they may be doing the best they can. Maybe they can't move any faster because of age, injuries, etc. Sometimes, and I'm bad for this, we get to thinking that everyone else should be just like us. The fact is, some people can just do things faster and better. That's the nature of how things are.

That being said, take all this into account. Set goals that even the very slowest worker can reach and then offer incentives for improvement. Maybe a .25 cents and hours raise if they reach a certain goal. Like has already been said, it's much better to pay a few cents an hours more than all that overtime.

Do you have times when your employees have to find stuff to do to keep busy? If so, set a goal and then offer comp time off on slow days. A lot of companies around here do that. Some guys get almost 2 months worth of comp time in the summer months.

Good luck!
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Give them some of the action. Either a pc/hr bonus or a %/profit bonus. Of course spoiled product and returns come off the bonus.

Other thoughts,
  • Bring in a bbq and cook up steaks for lunch
  • Have a beer bust
  • Give gift cards to a local store
  • Give tickets to local events like concerts and sports events
  • Give pay raises for meeting performance goals
  • Like
Reactions: 1
I agree, INCENTIVES...sorry to say money is the only thing to motivate people, until you start firing and they don't need that right now with this economy
Hey Ridgley,I've been doing production management for a long time.When my shop has to rock it out I get on the press and set the pace.I do not ask anyone to do anything that I'am not willing to do.I set that pace and have my main guy take over.I jump in where ever I'am needed to give one of the guys a long break,he comes back and I jump in for the next guy.The auto never stops.We re-ink while running.Someone lays out shirts and switches carts so the loader never runs out of shirts.
I also give the guys a cash bonus if they do a great job.Just because I'am a manager it doesnt mean my arms got blown off in the war.I know how hard the work can be thats why I do it.I was a printer before and still am.They know that if the press stops there had better be a good reason.
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Incentives are great and have their place but don't reward for average performance. Financial incentives should only be used to reward above par performance. Nothing wrong with buying them lunch, cases of Mountain Dew, etc. when things are busy; these things will help motivate them, fuel them and remove distractions. I always discourage employees from skipping lunch because people will get irritable and their performance will suffer if they don't eat. I'll catch heck for saying this but southerners tend to move slow. You'll have to get on the line with them and set the pace to train them to move their bodies quicker. Keep chit-chat to minimum until they prove they can work and talk. Energetic music helps develop a rhythm and keep a constant pace. While cranking up the pace keep the work environment friendly and a little competition never hurts, just make sure they don't get sloppy. Don't suffer slackers, they hurt efficiency and destroy morale. If a guy (or gal) won't pick up the pace then send them packing. Just consider how you would like to be treated as an employee (not how you expect to be treated or have been treated) and you'll get there. Someone once told me, treat your employees like your best customer.

edit: one more thing, I never hire people who live with their parents; as a rule they are immature and lazy, they don't need the money.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Thanks for the input. I do get on the stick- Actually I love it, but sometimes I'm just too busy to do it- that's why I bring in extra help when we are loaded down.
The problem is, they are friends.... I KNOW, I KNOW,....
They do not want to watch me spin while I tell them what should be done on the auto. I can load and unload 360-400 pcs/ hr myself. I have done it on numerous occasions, and have put a large banner of a shot of 360 shirts stacked up with a caption that says "do these in an hour!".
But you're all right, money is the answer- only thing that's gonna work. Thanks.
How can I come work for you. I will do 360 every hour for 2 weeks then sit on my butt for a week and let you motivate me with more money. I can just keep that cycle up till I make more than you. Sorry, but that is all that is going to happen if you reward bad work ethic with more money. Just my 2 cents but, you might want to have a meeting and ask each person why they can't get 360pcs/hr and listen to them. Watch them work and see what the problem is. If it is a machine issue, fix it on the spot. If it is a materials issue fix it on the spot. If it is a manpower issue fix that on the spot also. You may not have to fire someone but, you can let them know that what ever they are doing is not acceptable any more. You are in business to make money, the more money you make the more secure your empleyees jobs are.
See less See more
have you tried a whip, or maybe locking the doors so they cant go home untill there done.:p just kidding i agree with getting out there and showing them whats up. i also believe in if they finish there quota before there 8 hour shift, they can go home earlyand get paid for the day. make sure that the quality isnt lost by people trying to rush to get home early
The problem is, they are friends.... I KNOW, I KNOW,....
Family, religion, friends.. these are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.
Monty Burns
INKFREAK is absolutely correct. The only way to get the staff motivated is to jump right in there with them and set the pace. You've got to make it FUN to do the shirts, and praise people who are doing better than others. Joke and talk with them, show interest in their lives etc, and pretty soon you will have a good team who respects you and want to get the jobs out quickly.

Everyone craves praise, and it works far better than telling them that they're all useless, and that your blind grandmother could do better.

We've had production staff for 17 years now, and NOTHING beats working with them and getting a job out - it's a pain - but it lets them know that you're "one of them" so to say. Nothing peeves a worker off more than seeing his superior sit on his fat *** the whole day.

No amount of incentives are a replacement for working with them. Once you've worked with them for a few jobs and you've got them to all be part of the team, then you can generally leave them, and just join them for the odd job or two.
See less See more
Its easy to say that one should start pressing with them for a few minutes to show them how fast it can be done. Doing a few minutes to a full 8 hour stint are two completly different measures. ie. the longer the period the lower the efficency gets. Just my opinion.
They call me "straw-boss". I'm headed to the sweatshop now. Gonna run the first hour myself-360pcs- one man. Let the games begin.
Ridgely, Will you post a video of that on you tube? :)
Don't have a video camera to post some- wish I did.
Re: Mass Production

When I first started I was only concerned with how many shirts we could print per hour. Our press will easily print 700 shirts per hour and we have even done around 600 in an hour before, small left chest. But I thought that since we did that many in an hour we could pull off 4500 in a day. Not even close, and we busted our butts and only got 3100 done in a little over 8 hours. We took a 30 minute lunch break and about 5 water breaks throughout the day. Looking back I don't think I could have pushed or worked any harder without having to take the next day off.

Central Texas in August (105 in the shop) was really tough but I was dissapointed. There was really nothing more we could have done and it sure as hell felt like we were moving fast.

Your shop looks similar to ours except your dryer is a bit smaller. Good luck and try not to kill yourself or your guys. Don't work them too hard or they might be worthless tomorrow.
See less See more
Two other possibilities not yet mentioned, are to fit your workers with motion sensors, as I'm sure one has a spider building a web on him, or to promise your workers a big sloppy kiss from you, if they don't meet their targets. They'll either work like never before, or chase you around the building Benny Hill style. :)
Have they been printing long? If not they might not be able to meet your goals just yet. They may need time learn how to be able to print that many shirts in an hour.

I've been on both ends of this at different times in my life. Both Boss and labor. I once worked for a guy who thought that the more you accomplished the more he could put on you. So he was never happy with any employee even thought some of us were doing the work of 2 guys everyday. And this was in a job that if you made a mistake it could possibly mean someone losing their life in the worst case scenerio. But, the more you could accomplish the more he expected out of you. You couldn't please him. And you never seen him doing anything but go fishing or sit in the office all day.

As a Boss, you have to be able to look at your employee and set realistic goals for them to obtain. Yes, you might be able to knock out 300, 400, 500, or even more shirts an hour. But, what about all day for several days in a row. You start to get tired and production slows, just like has already been said. Take this into account.

Also, if it were me, I'd stay out on the line all day with them. Just so that they know that, yeah you the boss can do the job you are asking them to do. It may not help, but at least they can't stand around and complain about you wanting them to do something they think is impossible to do. Just working for an hour with them isn't enough to prove that point.

good luck!
See less See more
1 - 20 of 47 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.