Tag Archive: assets

Do You Treat Your People as Critical Assets to Your Success?

June 24th, 2019

As several CEOs lament continually and as Steve Erickson, president of Corona Clipper, Inc. and UK Business Unit Group, said in our 2019 predictions document, talent is a hot topic in today’s tight labor market. Perhaps it is time to put a bit more thought into our talent.

As a consultant who works with organizations from a few million in annual revenue to multi-billion dollar conglomerates, it is quite clear that talent is an issue across-the-board. It doesn’t matter the industry, the size, or the ownership (private equity, publicly traded or closely-held). Talent is an issue that is top of mind of every executive interested in growth and innovation. The trick is whether you just think about talent or are willing to invest in talent. Which are you?

Certainly, those who invest are far more likely to retain top talent and develop new talent. In zero unemployment markets, there is something to be said about creating your own talent. If you aren’t focused on this topic, it is quite likely the competition will steal your talent away.

There are many ways to invest in talent:

  1. Provide mentor opportunities – If your organization looks for ways to support the growth of employees with mentors, you are bound to be more successful than the norm. In our experience, the best companies realize that people need to learn through practical application and mentoring provides this opportunity.
  2. Invest in leaders to encourage continuous coaching – aAyearly review is quite useless. Who can remember what happened that long ago and understand how to improve or build on a strength? Instead, I found that 90 day one-on-one performance conversations with a limited number of objectives do the trick. Continuous feedback and investment of time can go a long way. But let’s not expect leaders to know how to conduct these sessions if we haven’t invested in them. Remember, it trickles down hill.
  3. Provide training opportunities – Search for training topics that will supplement what your employees should understand. For example, any employee in operations and supply chain should take APICS courses to understand the fundamentals of supply chain and operations management and related principles. If nothing else, it will provide the body of knowledge and associated language.
  4. Provide experiences – In larger companies, there might be job rotations or overseas assignments.  No matter the size, there are cross-training opportunities as well as enabling visits and collaborations with customers, suppliers, systems and technology providers, consultants/experts and other partners.
  5. Allow the freedom for experimentation – To encourage new ideas and innovation, it is important to design programs that educate employees as well as provide a framework to try out new ideas. In our consulting travels, we find that employees who are allowed to test new ideas in a safe zone feel invested in.
  6. Address poor performers – Instead of ignoring your poor performers because it is an unpleasant task or you are worried about repercussions, proactively address them. Work with them to turn them around or move them out of the organization, and you’ll unleash your top talent.

Why not merely increase your engagement by investing in your already-existing talent? According to all the surveys, engagement is at horrific levels in the vast majority of organizations yet engagement is key to driving performance. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out investing in your people is not only common sense but it can do more good for your bottom line than almost anything else. The key is to not treat investment as throwing money at an issue but instead seeing it as a priority. Let us know what ideas you have to engage your most critical assets.

 

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

Are You Retaining Top Talent?

Profit Through People

 



Do You See Your People as Assets or Expenses?

February 6th, 2018

Ponder this question: How do you see your people?  Assets or Expenses?

We all might like to jump to the answer of assets but is it true?

A few questions to consider include:

  1. If sales are down for the quarter, do you think about investing in people to grow the business or cutting back on people to keep margins steady?   What really pops into your mind?
  2. Do you hold brainstorming sessions with just your leadership team or do you actively solicit input from the people on the floor, in the field, on the phone etc.?  If you ask, do you plan to look into it or are you just checking a box that you asked?
  3. When reviewing financials, do you keep them to your leadership team/ inner circle or do you share the main elements with everyone (while explaining the numbers and soliciting feedback).
  4. If you run into cash flow challenges (due to growth, investments in technology, a non-recurring write-off etc.), do you immediately think about who you can cut?  Or do you look at the situation holistically and think through how to address?For example, when I was VP of Operations, we ran into temporary profit issues and the Board wanted to cut people.  However, the largest cost was materials.  We pushed back to keep our people and focused on how to reduce scrap which would provide a 10 to 1 return vs. labor which might actually cost more if scrap went up at all due to the lack of people.

You don’t have to share your answers.  Just think about them.  If you think about people as expenses, even occasionally, somehow they start acting like expenses.  It seems to work that way in every situation I’ve seen.



The L.A. Times & Automation

April 10th, 2017

supply chainI toured the Los Angeles Times last week and was impressed with the automation. Although newspapers seems like an old business, it was impressive in pure size and volume with minimal people. The business sprawls 2400 acres and is run with 200 people. There were robots to move huge rolls of paper through the facility. There was automated equipment that brought the papers from the machine to the next room over where it was compiled into stacks. We were fortunate to go inside a paper machine and see just how fast the paper ran by (although the example below was stopped at the time).

automation

Certainly, the LA Times invested in automation. However, when I asked that question, the answer was that most of this technology wasn’t new. I find this is true with clients as well — it’s interesting how often what can seem like ‘old’ technology can provide vast improvement to the status quo. Have you looked for opportunities lately?

One tip to implement this week:

As much as we love to talk about the latest and greatest technology such as artificial intelligence or drones, the majority of the time there is a vast opportunity to implement technology that might be less exciting and/or considered ‘older’ but one that will improve productivity, profitability and the like. Have you looked at your already-existing assets for new uses?

For example, I’ve implemented vendor managed inventory or collaborative inventory planning with customers many times throughout my career because it provides a win-win in HUGE proportions. It isn’t new but it achieves significant results — shorter lead times, better service, lower costs, less inventory, etc. What can you do in your business that would achieve a similar result? Think about automation. Push the envelope in thinking. And, remember, some of the best ideas come from unlikely places and with unlikely tool sets.

 

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…”

 



MacGyver Solutions & Using Under-Utilized Assets

December 5th, 2016

supply chain

I’ve always appreciated the concept of MacGyver-type solutions (and so I enjoy the re-booted TV series as well). When I was a VP of Operations, I was quite proud of what we accomplished with minimal resources — having minuscule to no resources can spur creativity. Wiley contacted me for a book proposal several years ago, and thanks to a consulting colleague and friend for the suggestion, the working title was “Bubblegum and Paperclips: The MacGyver Guide to Leveraging Under-Utilized Assets”. I still might pursue this book as I’ve always had a passion for what can be achieved with determination and creativity, thanks to my Mom.

I thought my cat exhibited a few of these characteristics by using this empty Christmas box for a fort — or, I could be assigning more ingenuity than he deserves but that’s OK…..  I bet he thinks we can’t see him.

ingenuity

One tip to implement this week:

Pick one challenge or opportunity — we all have at least 100 so finding one shouldn’t be too difficult. Take a few minutes to think about your situation. What could you use to resolve the issue or leverage the opportunity? Do you have any “bubblegum” lying around? I bet you do!

For example, instead of jumping to a capital solution, what tools, machines and resources do you have? Perhaps if you tackle the topic from another angle, a breakthrough will occur. I have solved countless challenges with minimal expertise in the particular subject area some thought was required when several experts with the equivalent of “Harvard PhD’s” in that subject area couldn’t. The MacGyver solution worked. Ask good questions. Rely on the right resources. Think about what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t. Solutions will emerge.

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…”