Establishing A Battle Cry To Keep Your Plant Team Motivated And Set Expectations 651cbbedc623e

Establishing a battle cry to keep your plant team motivated and set expectations

Oct. 11, 2023
With industrial teams running leaner than ever, a battle cry can keep your team motivated behind a shared set of principles.

Does your team have a battle cry? A battle cry isn’t just for military groups to make sounds or yell commands to take an enemy’s control point. It is a sentence or a group of short statements giving guidance or demonstrating action. In industry, a battle cry is a motto, a statement, a value, or even an expectation that has meaning and understanding.

So why is it important to have a battle cry? Great question! A battle cry is something that everyone in an office, facility, or company can get behind to stay motivated and adhere to job expectations. Some examples are, “Do it once, do it right” or “Safety first” for maintenance technicians, “Save everyone” or “Not on my watch” for doctors and nurses, and “Measure twice, cut once and cut straight” for carpenters.

My battle cry

The battle cry that has stuck with me stems from my time serving in the U.S. Air Force. Every entry-level airman and lieutenant must memorize, adhere to, and follow three core values throughout their career: “Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all you do.” I’ve utilized these core values while working in industry, and it still fits for my personal battle cry.

“Integrity first” is not just admitting you did something if it doesn’t work or creates an issue. Integrity is showing up ready to work, and learning everything about that position or job to make sure you understand every point of expectation. Integrity is standing up for what is right or pointing out what is dangerous in the face of your peers. Integrity first for me means that I am willing to take action and perform my job at the highest level, understanding that if I do make a mistake, I will own up to it and face the consequences for my actions.

“Service before self” involves putting others’ needs ahead of yours, or placing someone’s service or actions ahead of your own. Now, a shop isn’t a battalion, and a facility isn’t a military base. However, the concept of service crosses these categories. Service means turning in your reports before they are due, not just on time. It means jumping into the pit when it’s needed but no one wants to volunteer. It means being a leader instead of a manager to show your commitment to the initiative. It means understanding that a skill isn’t just acquired but is learned and repeated to be made proficient.

Now, how would you define “excellence in all you do?” If someone is stating they want excellence, that would mean no mistakes or errors. But is that truly reality? Mistakes can happen and errors do occur, either human induced or machinery induced. Let’s talk about roles and responsibilities as an example. If someone’s role is a planner but you have them still turning wrenches or performing project management, that is not excellence in all they do, but misuse of that individual’s time. Excellence means knowing the position, teaching others that need to learn and grow, promoting those that show the skills for the next level, and even realizing your own roadblocks that are keeping you from reaching your goals.

Your team and their battle cry

So why is it important in today’s facilities to have a battle cry? It’s simple: to collectively bring your team together for a common goal or objective.

Let’s start with an easy question, and be honest with yourself: can you recite your company’s mission statement without looking it up? A mission statement is the expected outcome or direction that the corporate leadership or owners want for the company. But it doesn’t speak for those who are performing the work at the floor level, the front-line supervisors and even middle and upper management at the facility.

Don’t get me wrong, mission statements are important to understand the end goal, but a battle cry is what brings everyone to the same cause-and-effect or momentum to move forward. Since COVID, less people are in the facilities, and those that are there are performing more than one job title. Lean management is in use now more than ever. Everyone can get stressed and overwhelmed with all the responsibilities placed on them, but yet they can still prevail and overcome. So why not have a battle cry that can be said when achievements are made, milestones are reached, reliability and safety goals are surpassed, promotions are announced, and so on?

There is a catch, though. This battle cry cannot come from the leadership group. It must resonate from those performing the work, sweating in extended heatwaves, and struggling to meet the demands placed upon them. I was at a facility recently working with maintenance leadership on defining skill gaps with their mechanics and technicians when the discussion of a battle cry came up. The maintenance supervisor, maintenance manager, and reliability engineer immediately started coming up with great statements for a battle cry for their teams, until a lead mechanic walked in and was asked his thoughts.

The lead mechanic was brutally honest, responding with “they don’t mean a hill of beans to us because you came up with them! Each of you have been at this facility for less than two years when the average hourly worker has been here for 15-plus. If you want a battle cry, then let the teams come up with their own and then we vote on one as a whole and adopt it. Put it on hats, shirts, hard hat stickers, etc.”

This is the statement that the teams voted on for their battle cry: “Perfection starts with Safety and is complimented with Skills and Reliability!” Since then, any time a contractor visits that facility and performs work that exceeds the facility’s QA/QC requirements, the contractors get a hard hat sticker with that statement and the company’s logo above it, showing their commitment to the facility’s expectations.

So, I’ll ask one more time: What is your battle cry?

About the Author

Terry Southall

Terry Southall has provided training and skills support within operations, maintenance, and reliability for over 10 years, working for companies such as Honeywell Aerospace, Georgia-Pacific Wood Products, Reliability Solutions Training LP, and most recently People and Processes, Inc. Terry has a M.A. in Adult Education and Training as well as a B.S. in Management. Terry also served and is a protected veteran of the U.S. Air Force. Contact him at [email protected].

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