Filling Worker Skills Gap Remains a Hot Topic

May 24th, 2016
Share on Facebook2Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+2Share on LinkedIn3Email this to someone
talent gap

Worker skill gaps continue to impact manufacturers and distributors productivity and profitability who don’t make an investment in their human capital

talent gap

Worker skill gaps continue to impact manufacturers and distributors productivity and profitability who don’t make an investment in their human capital

In the past week, I’ve had the opportunity to hear the leading experts in manufacturing, distribution and logistics. There were a few common threads among EVERY expert yet one stood out from the rest — the skills gap remains alive and well.

For example, the Southern California Logistics & Supply Chain Summit keynote speaker was an Amazon executive. When asked what he wanted to talk about at the symposium, he chose “People, Careers and the Supply Chain: the Innovative Practices”.

Whether $8 million, $50 million or a facility / division of a multi-billion dollar company, every one of my manufacturing and distribution clients state manufacturing and supply chain talent as a top concern. I facilitate a Harvey Mudd executive roundtable with the head of the manufacturing program at Harvey Mudd. At every roundtable meeting in the last few years, this topic arises.

What can we do to alleviate this skills gap?

  • Retain top talent – Let’s start with what is often overlooked. Look carefully — you probably have underutilized emerging talent. According to Gallup surveys, only 30% of the workforce is engaged. That is horrific! Imagine the fact that the majority of your people are not engaged; worse yet, there is a good percentage actively disengaged. Thus, there is VAST opportunity to engage and retain talent.
  • Mentor program – With baby boomers retiring, it is wise to consider putting a win-win mentor program in place. We guarantee your long-term employees have more knowledge in their head than you realize — until you try to replace it. And, often, if set up with win-win objectives, the younger workers can be inspired by retiring workers — and vice versa.
  • Training & development – Often-times, offering training and development programs (such as those offered by my APICS chapter on the fundamentals of manufacturing, distribution and supply chain) can be quite valuable in providing a common language, bringing ideas and inspiration to the forefront AND, most importantly, in giving employees the knowledge that leaders are interested in investing in them.
  • Performance management – Who has time? Well, we need to make the time to talk to our people. If we can find time to interview replacements, we can find time to talk with our employees about objectives and performance. Spend a few minutes to help employees think through a career plan. Address non-performers. You’ll be amazed at the results.
  • Don’t hire fast talkers:  It is extremely challenging to be a great interviewer. Be careful not to be enamored with fast talkers. Fast talkers do not equate to results. Ask your network for feedback!

Since those who have the best people thrive, it is in all of our best interest to figure out how to retain, develop and find the best people. In our experience, this is the #1 indicator to long-term, sustainable success. It is worth investing the time in your #1 asset. If you want to talk about ideas to make this happen, contact us 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:

Employees: Your #1 Asset

Never Stop Learning

Read our Skills Gap Report from research conducts with APICS-IE.

 



Keys to Delegation Success

May 20th, 2016
Share on Facebook4Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+3Share on LinkedIn10Email this to someone
delegation

With today’s high customer expectations for quick service, 24/7 accessibility and expanded services supply chain managers are increasingly overloaded. Delegation is key to meeting demands and working efficiently.

delegation

With today’s high customer expectations for quick service, 24/7 accessibility and expanded services supply chain managers are increasingly overloaded. Delegation is key to meeting demands and working efficiently.

In today’s Amazon-impacted world, customers have higher expectations of rapid turnaround, 24/7 accessibility, and increased levels of service. These events have contributed to an information-overloaded society.

Not only do we receive countless emails, texts, social media messages, marketing messages and the like, but we also are expected to be able to make sense of it all and execute projects successfully – on-time, on budget and on results. A tall order to be sure!

Survival seems challenging enough, let alone thriving in these sorts of conditions. In taking a step back from the details, it becomes clear that we must employ tools to increase our chances of success. And, of course, we’d like to make the process easier and clearer along the way. One option to achieve these goals is to delegate. Those who properly delegate will have more time to focus on critical priorities while keeping details moving in the right direction. A few tips that will help ensure success include:

  1. Choose wisely– One of the keys to delegating successfully is to select the “right” tasks to delegate. Delegating away your strengths rarely achieves success, and it does nothing for morale. Typically, delegating your areas of weakness can be a good approach; however, it is vital to take a few precautionary steps. Gain expert advice in surrounding yourself with strong project team members and supporters. Leverage those strengths of your team members that happen to coincide with your weaknesses. Don’t waste time delegating “C” items. Ignore them. Every action requires effort. Focus your efforts on what’s most important. Delegate the next set of priorities as you’ll want to make sure those get accomplished. Think about “C” items when all else is done.
  2. Empower– Don’t throw around the word empowerment lightly. It is the rare project manager who knows how to empower his/her team. It means you must start by being a great leader. Provide guidelines. Collaborate on goals. Address the hard issues. Encourage team members to try new ideas. Support them in their failures. Take responsibility for the problems and share successes. Give your project team the ability to make decisions within their guidelines with full knowledge that they’ll be supported no matter the result. Soon, your team members will feel empowered. Once they are empowered, delegation becomes more of a collaborative affair.
  3. Diversity– There are many different tasks required to ensure a successful outcome for a project team. In order to leverage your team members’ individual strengths while minimizing their weaknesses, you’ll need a diverse set of skills and people. Thus, you’ll have a much better chance of success in delegating the diverse types of tasks required if you have a broad set of skills in your team with a wide array of backgrounds. This will also stimulate ideas and debate which can encourage empowerment so long as the leader supports experimentation.
  4. Core Metrics– Undoubtedly, no matter how effective you are in delegating, it will fall apart without core metrics in place. Work with your team to determine which critical milestones should be monitored. Develop leading metrics that will raise a red flag if the project is veering off-track. Put effort into making sure that the metrics selected will provide warnings in advance if needed. Don’t have too many metrics which become burdensome to track; instead, select the “right” few that will be indicators of success. Agree upon them with your team upfront.
  5. Provide training & mentoring– In addition to delegating assignments, it is imperative that you take the time to accompany that task with the proper training and experiences to go with it. Mentoring can be valuable as well. Mentoring provides an example of someone who has “been there, done that” who is also an expert who is available for advice. By providing mentoring and/or helping your project team members find mentors in their area of expertise, you have, in effect, purchased insurance for your delegation. As anyone who has even been in an accident knows, insurance becomes invaluable when you need it.

Delegating project tasks has become a must in today’s new normal business environment. No leader has enough time to “do it all himself”, and no leader has the broad and diverse set of expertise required to be the ideal resource to handle every task. Instead, delegation provides not only a way to make sure the project gets done on time but it also adds to the quality of the result by leveraging team members’ strengths for the collective good.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Put Your Eagle Eye on What’s Key to Success-Leadership

Empower Your People to Grow

 



The Power of IP (Intellectual Property)

May 19th, 2016
Share on Facebook1Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+2Share on LinkedIn2Email this to someone

supply chain

Last week, Kash Gokli, the head of Harvey Mudd’s manufacturing program and I facilitated an executive roundtable discussion with CEO’s and senior leaders from around Southern California on the topic of IP. We had an IP guru at the roundtable to talk about IP and answer questions. It was a fascinating discussion. Do you develop new products to grow your business and to serve your market’s needs? Do you have proprietary processes? Most likely, we all have valuable intellectual property, and we should protect it. The value of a business often relates back to the value of IP!

As we discussed last week, if you are thinking of selling your business or gaining investment in your business, it is not a topic you can overlook. Certainly navigating this process requires skill, and so you should gain top notch advice for one of your most precious assets. This is one of the reasons why excellent IP attorneys are tough to find — they need a technical degree and experience in addition to a law degree.

One tip to implement this week:

So, what in the world could we do this week that relates to IP? First, if you are an executive, take stock of your IP. Is it protected? Should you put more emphasis on creating IP and protecting IP? Most likely, the answer is yes — assuming you want to grow your business and create a long-term sustainable plan for your business.

If you are not an executive, ask about your company’s IP. Learn about what makes your company different. Why do people buy from you? In addition to service, I am sure there is some IP buried in there somewhere. The more you understand what makes your company tick, the more valuable an employee you’ll be. And, I have no doubt, the better your career path will become.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

 



Involve Your Supply Chain for SIOP Success

May 18th, 2016
Share on Facebook4Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+3Share on LinkedIn6Email this to someone
Involve your supply chain for SIOP success

For greater success with your SIOP process reach out to your extended supply chain for collaborative ordering, product development opportunities, and logistics improvements.

 

Involve your supply chain for SIOP success

For greater success with your SIOP process reach out to your extended supply chain for collaborative ordering, product development opportunities, and logistics improvements.

 

The best SIOP (Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning) processes that deliver significant returns on investment involve the extended supply chain. Since SIOP is about how to align demand with supply – and align all the process owners and executives on one page, it has far reaching implications beyond any one project, person or result.

I find the most successful SIOP processes deliver the optimal combination of:

  • Business growth backed by operational readiness
  • Improved customer service levels
  • Accelerated cash flow
  • Increased margins

Thus, it is a worth-while endeavor for any business as not only a way to stay competitive but it is also a strategic process to grow the business and rise above your competitors with elevated business performance.

Although a certain level of success can be achieved within the “walls” of your company, far greater success will be achieved by involving your supply chain. Talk with your customers about demand. Consider collaborative ordering processes with them as you’ll gain a greater insight into your supply chain that can be utilized to achieve a win-win!  Find out which products are strategic and think through pricing and costing. Partner with suppliers to develop improved materials, to design products, to collaborate on inventory and ordering and more.  Go beyond the norm and tie your customers and suppliers together in a win-win-win endeavor. And, consider other supply chain and business partners – transportation providers, trusted advisors and the like.  Find a way to make 1+1=16.

If you’d like to learn more about how to implement these types of advanced SIOP techniques in your organization, our proprietary model, 4 EXCEL has proven effective.  Contact me to discuss further.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to be the Strongest Link in your organization:

4 Excel for SIOP Success

Customer Collaboration on Orders = RESULTS

 

 



Data, Data, Data

May 17th, 2016
Share on Facebook4Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+2Share on LinkedIn7Email this to someone
how do connect data

Many manufacturers and distributors focus on collecting data rather than using it to analyze performance and achieve business results.

how do connect data

Many manufacturers and distributors focus on collecting data rather than using it to analyze performance and achieve business results.

“Data, data, data” seems to be the hot topic for manufacturers and distributors, similarly to “location, location, location” in real estate success. What is going on?

As technologies have come a long way from the “old” days, we have massive amounts of data I heard this statistic last week – 1 gigabyte cost $1 million in 1980 whereas it costs 1 cent today. Clearly, it’s affordable and accessible. Now what do we do with it?

Here are some options my best clients have been researching:

  1. Dashboards: Get the “right” ERP system for your needs and display key metrics on a dashboard. We want to be able to slice and dice information to rapidly get to what we want when we want it — in a nice, visually pleasing format.
  2. Demand data is gold: Undoubtedly, my best clients use demand data from their supply chain to outperform their competitors — and sometimes to collaborate with competitors for win-win outcomes. A forecast is better than guesswork but actual consumption information from your customer trumps all.
  3. Big data: There is more hype over this than anything else; however, since there is a ton of it available these days, those executives who figure out how to make good use of this information will succeed.
  4. Connections with data: The internet of things is spurring new uses of information. How do we connect data from our fit monitors, alarm systems, appliances, etc. in a meaningful and useful way?
  5. RFID & Barcoding: Although these can be considered “old school”, they are also solid tools that can provide tangible benefits in the right situation.

Don’t just collect data to collect data. It might be similar to being a hoarder. Although it can be stored on tiny devices, the key is not to collect it but to USE it to achieve business results. If you’d like to talk further about how to do that for your company, contact us.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

The Power of Databases 

The Value of CRM