How Empowered and Engaged Employees Can Fill the Skills Gap

September 30th, 2014
Playing on the strengths of high performing employees can lessen skills gaps within your organization while motivating everyone to perform at a higher level.

Playing on the strengths of high performing employees can lessen skills gaps within your organization while motivating everyone to perform at a higher level.

Not a day goes by when an employee, volunteer, Board member or colleague doesn’t retire, get promoted, move companies, change roles within the company or at least think about any one of these. For the vast majority of my clients, they run lean and are challenged to source projects even when fully staffed; thus, a skills gap is left in its wake.

I’ve found a key strategy for success in this environment is to simply KEEP your high performers. It seems much easier than it is to execute unfortunately. Pay is simply not enough. Pay is not a motivator; however, the lack of pay is a demotivator. Certainly if you do not pay within comparable salary ranges, you aren’t even in the game. On the other hand, you could be in the high end of the range and you’ll still lose top performers if you do not retain top talent.

My firm’s research study on this topic found that retention must become a critical priority. In my experience, the single largest key to retention is leadership.  Leaders create an environment for empowered and engaged employees. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Thus, it requires the rare leader who will make the tough call and who will support his/her people when the going gets tough. Who will behave as an empowered employee if they fear getting beat up?

To learn more about the key strategies to successfully empower and engage employees, join me at APICS 2014 for my education session “Cultivating Empowered and Engaged Employees” in New Orleans on October 19th. Go to educational sessions, and look under the category for Professional Development.


Innovation Does NOT Need to be the Next iPhone!

September 26th, 2014

supply chain

In today’s Wall Street Journal, there is an article about Alan Turing who believed strongly in artificial intelligence and is one of the pioneers related to understanding the power of the computer.  What I found compelling about the article was it’s sub-title, “Today’s biggest innovations are coming from the combination of human inspiration and the computer-processing power”.

I find this to be undoubtedly true in today’s business environment.  There are very few companies who will become wildly successful by inventing the new iPhone; instead, those who are wildly successful find ways to combine different needs and formats together.  For example, there are nice-looking watches that count steps, catch you up on email, provide alarms, stream music and the like “all-in-one”.  The “right” combination and re-combination of people, processes, products, services and technology yields results.

One tip to implement this week: Gather your team (or a group of your peers) together for a brainstorming session.  If a key customer or supplier is dropping by for a visit, consider including them in the meeting.  Introduce the power of thinking of innovation as the recombination of already-existing technologies, processes, products, packaging etc. into a compelling “new” product, service, or process.

Then, let the ideas flow.  I have no doubt it will yield some type of results.  Who knows; you might come up with a “winning idea”.  However, even if you do not choose to implement any of the ideas, if the team understands the value of what they participated in, the worst case result will be more engaged employees and partners.

If you are interested in learning more about how to cultivate a culture of innovation, read my Business Edge article.

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


The Skills Gap is Alive and Well in California

September 25th, 2014
California skills gap

Job openings are still on the rise in California but for supply chain so is the skills gap, which is a hiring headache that then shifts the attention on employee retention.

California was responsible for 1/3 of all new jobs added in August in the nation!  I see this on daily basis at my clients.  They are hiring for key positions and struggling to fill the skills gap.  My research showed that 87% of manufacturers and distributors are experiencing a skills gap.

Not only must you be better than your competition at locating and attracting top talent, you must be able to retain top talent.  What do you have in place to retain top talent?  Certainly some companies have comprehensive training and development programs; however, I find the “simple” is amazingly effective:

• Do you show your employees that you appreciate them?

• Do you give your employees interesting projects?

• Do you allow your employees to experiment and fail?

• Do you hold your employees accountable?  Interestingly, I find that if employees know you will hold folks accountable, you will have a much more attractive environment.  Who wants to pick up others’ slack?

• Do you celebrate successes?

• Do you ask for and LISTEN to feedback?

Consider implementing a few of these “simple” retention strategies, and I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on this topic: 

The Skills Gap

US Manufacturers Face Shortage of Skills – How Can That Be?


Profit through People: Making the Connection in Manufacturing

September 23rd, 2014
profit through people

More than ever manufacturing and distribution operations are linked and fueled by people worldwide. When you make them the cornerstone of your success profit will follow.

Supply Chain is about making connections and when I talk about The Manufacturing Connector(SM), I am referring to the comprehensive process to connect the rapid assessment and identification of key priorities with the execution of results through the right combination of end-to-end supply chain expertise and improvements in people, processes and systems.

When going into additional depth when it comes to people (Profit through People), I find that it is where I spend 80% of my time and attention for my most successful clients. Thus sit up and pay attention!

The reason people are cornerstone to success and my original brand was “Profit through People”, even though I focus on end-to-end supply chain topics, is because people make or break success. I can’t think of a success story within my clients or contacts where people didn’t play a vital role. Can you?

For example, in order to radically slash lead times, it takes more than dictating a change to Customer Service; instead, it involves each aspect of your order fulfillment process from taking orders to planning production, collaborating with suppliers, managing capacity, resolving operational bottlenecks, implementing the concept of flow (lean thinking), etc. How can such a change be successful unless leaders rise to the challenge, cross-functional teams get formed, culture change occur, metrics get measured, and change management becomes commonplace?

Now expand your thinking to your supply chain partners. Are you collaborating with your customers? Do you have communication processes in place with your bank? Can they support your cash flow needs? How about your insurance carriers? Attorneys? Contract manufacturers? Etc.? It must be one, inter-connected web to succeed, and it will boil down to people!

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

Creating a Culture of Innovation

Leadership is the Cornerstone to Delivering Better Business Results



Home Depot Data Breach: Are You Prepared?

September 22nd, 2014

supply chainHome Depot has been in the news lately about the recent data breach.  It turns out that it is FAR bigger than Target’s data breach. 56 million cards might be affected. This is the latest in a series of big retailers woes with data security. How prepared are your systems to fight off a data breach? What would you do if faced with a Home Depot data breach?

Security is often overlooked when thinking about supply chain management; however, it shouldn’t be! There are countless options for security issues throughout today’s complex supply chains, let alone the popularity of e-commerce. Do not overreact and make your supply chain inflexible; however, it is worth taking the time to consider your strategy.

One tip to implement this week: Take a few minutes out to get your key team members together to think about data security – and the topic of security in general. Where are your most likely vulnerabilities? Focus in on your top 3 potential issues to ensure they are secure and/or make them secure. Remember your supply chain partners.  If your partners have vulnerabilities, it won’t matter who caused the issue if it affects your customers.

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…”