Tag Archive: communicate

Where Our Best People Are Going

September 1st, 2020

In the last month, almost every client has had some sort of challenge with talent. Most clients and contacts have lost a high-quality person. All have experienced a lack of talent or the appropriate skills to meet customer demand. For example, finding temporary resources has proven quite the challenge. Watch our video on what we’re seeing in the market. Are you paying attention?

 

       

One Tip to Implement This Week:
Since people are on the move, there is NO DOUBT that we must get on top of our human resources. We cannot prevent people leaving because they want to change careers or industries, but we can prevent those who are leaving due to leadership. After all, people don’t leave companies, they leave people!

The good news is that you can improve this situation immediately.

Focus on your people.

  1. Have you clearly communicated where you are headed?
  2. Have your leaders talked with each direct report individually about how he/she fits into the future?
  3. Do you have a performance check-in process quarterly, at minimum?
  4. Are you providing career advancement? Ex. promotions, additional responsibility, training and/or mentoring, etc.
  5. Are you upfront with your people? Communicate what you are able to communicate. Tell them what you cannot communicate but make sure they know you will tell them immediately as you are able. Anytime leaders keep things from employees, employees make up FAR worse stories. Good people exist. Weak people stay and become disgruntled.
  6. How effective are your leaders?
  7. Of course, this assumes you are taking care of the basics such as safety, quality, COVID, etc.

Read more about navigating and successfully emerging post COVID-19 in my free eBook Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. Please send your feedback and stories. I will incorporate them in an article, video or interview.



Leadership As We Emerge from the Pandemic

May 6th, 2020

“Whatever You Are, Be a Good One.” – Abraham Lincoln

All bets are off. No matter what type of leader you were pre-pandemic, your opportunity is now. Relationships move faster during times of crisis than any other time. Simply become the leader you know you can be. Everyone has the potential. Use your strengths. Gather your team to build on that strength. Move forward.

 

Be Calm

During these unprecedented times, there is substantial emotional turmoil. Start with self-management. Demonstrate calmness. Communicate clearly. Be patient, yet firm. Be upfront and tell people what you can tell them and tell them what you cannot tell them. Do not avoid them. People will make up a situation worse than reality every time. Instead, be upfront. Let them know that they will be the first to know when you know or are able to communicate. Establish trust and hold it closely.

Offer Resources & Communicate Frequently

Offer information and resources to help employees, customers, suppliers and other partners navigate these volatile times. Even the strongest of people should consider EAP (Employee Assistance Program) resources. Make sure that resources are communicated clearly so that employees can take advantage of what is available. Keep communicating – even if there is no news.

Read our eBook, Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19 to hear about additional strategies to lead, keep your teams moving forward, and engage your people in the future. There is ZERO doubt that leadership will make or break not only employee and customer engagement but also bottom line business results. As my HR mentor used to say, “It begins and ends with leadership.” Thanks to Debra Daniels-Smith as I couldn’t provide nearly the value to clients without her valuable counsel when I was VP of Product Supply for a mid-market healthcare products manufacturer.

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

All Roads Lead Back to People
NOW is the Time to Invest in Employees


The New NAFTA & What It Means

December 27th, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, the USMCA (new NAFTA) agreement was signed by the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  It still needs to be ratified by lawmakers but several immediate protections went into effect.  Since I am surrounded by manufacturing and supply chain organizations and professionals in terms of clients, colleagues, trade associations and more, I can say that there is largely positive commentary about this partnership in N.A. and the improvements to the old agreement.  Of course, there was a lot of negative commentary and debate about the particulars and the impact on trade (you’d have to live under a rock not to hear them!), but it is a noteworthy step forward from our current position!

What does this mean for your business?  Are you “ready” to leverage the opportunities and minimize any risks?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Although most clients and colleagues expected something to work out in terms of NAFTA, many were still in a bit of a waiting pattern.  No matter the final details, it shows that collaboration will take place. I think it is noteworthy that collaboration is an integral part of the business success equation. Many years ago, collaboration was seen as a fluffy topic but it has become key to success. Perhaps we should all think further about how well we communicate and whether we can collaborate with those who don’t see eye-to-eye with us.

From a technical point-of-view, there are bound to be many implications on our businesses,  whether we source materials or products from Mexico or Canada or not. And if you are in another country, there will be an entirely different set of impacts. Think about your extended supply chain, from your suppliers’ suppliers to your customers’ customers and everyone in-between.  Are there opportunities? Risks? Be proactive, and I bet you’ll find at least one opportunity. This is another example of the need for a resilient supply chain.

Check out our new video and article series as well as our soon-to-be offered Rapid Resilient Supply Chain Assessment service:

 



The Resilient Supply Chain: Do You Have Resilient Employees?

October 24th, 2018

Resiliency isn’t easy,  If it were, every organization would have already perfected it.  Yet, in today’s volatile, Amazon impacted, disruption-heavy environment, you must build resilience.  

What is Resilience
Let’s start by talking about our meaning of resilience.  In addition to having the ability to adjust and recover quickly to changing business conditions.  A company must also have the capability to proactively think through the most likely disruptors and develop strategies to thrive amidst the chaos.   

Are your employees resilient?
If a customer changes his mind, how does your team handle it?  Do they see it as a challenge or a chore? Do they complain or start asking questions to understand what’s behind the change and whether it is likely to impact future orders?  Do they communicate upstream and downstream so all parties are in the loop and aware of what is coming?

If a supplier runs into a capacity issue and is late to deliver, what do your employees do?  Actually, let’s back up – do they know about the delay in advance? If so, has it been communicated?  What approach is taken with the supplier in these circumstances? Do you know whether your demands are realistic or not?  Or are you overloading your low cost supplier so you don’t get beat up for purchase price variances? Think about these questions and then go back to answering the resiliency question.  

Learning from Failure
Here is another key question:  What does your team do if they fail?  Do they look for the person to blame? Does the leader blame the weakest link?  Or does the leader blame “them” (next level management)? Or does the leader accept responsibility even if it isn’t his/her fault?  No matter who is at fault, how does the team react? Do they jump on the situation and look for solutions? Will they be more likely or less likely to collaborate upstream or downstream to find answers or ideas to test?  Perhaps most importantly, will they hide under a rock or spur into action?


Start by understanding your resiliency culture.  Then, you can purposefully change it to focus on resiliency.  



The Million Dollar Project Manager

May 31st, 2017
million dollar project leader

Project managers drive initiative results yet they aren’t often treated with the respect nor given the support they need to thrive.

In our experience working with manufacturers and distributors from small, family-owned businesses to medium-sized, private equity backed companies to global large, complex organizations, projects account for 80% of the improvement. There are projects to improve efficiencies, reduce inventory, grow sales, expand into new regions, consolidate operations and the list goes on. Thus, if we must rely on projects for business growth and profitability, should we think about our project managers as million-dollar project managers?

Most likely the answer is yes. However, in our experience, project managers are not often treated with much respect. Oftentimes, they are seen as lower level resources responsible for executing initiatives, coordinating resources and reporting progress up the chain. But, is this how we should treat our resources who can have such a far-reaching impact?

Let’s think about the reach of project managers’ impact. There are several key points to consider:

  1. Impact on resources:Undoubtedly, the number one concern from all levels of leadership relates back to resources. There are “too many,” “not enough,” “not the right skills,” “not allocated properly” and so on. Thus, anyone who has a significant impact on resources should be considered valuable.
  2. Daily decisions on which tasks gain priority:Similar to the impact on resources, determining the priority of tasks is crucial. As a project manager, there is a constant need to prioritize among tasks, collaborate with departments, etc.
  3. Ingrained in the business:Project managers are in the “thick of things” on a daily basis. In order to complete tasks and achieve results, project managers are involved in a wide array of activities. They are familiar with what is working and what isn’t working in each department as it relates to project tasks. There are very few projects which are confined to a singular department.
  4. Communicate across the organization:In order to complete their tasks, the project manager must communicate and collaborate across departments and layers of the organization. Since high-quality resources are hard to come by, it is vital to keep communications in a positive light.
  5. Impact on profit:Certainly, almost every project relates back to profitability in some respect. Whether we are growing the business, increasing margins, automating key processes or improving efficiencies, there is a direct impact on profit.

So, since it is clear that project managers have a substantial impact on business success, it is wise to think about how to maximize their performance. As a metaphor, the million-dollar project manager is appealing since there is often million-dollar impacts. Thus, what should we do to ensure project managers are treated more like million-dollar project managers?

  1. Provide clarity of the big picture:Project managers will be more invested in their projects if they understand the impact on the organization. Make sure to provide clarity of the big picture and how they fit in.
  2. Give them discretion:There have been countless studies as to what is most successful in keeping valuable employees (like your million-dollar project managers), and the net conclusion is that employees want some ability to affect the outcome of their work. We must give them some level of discretion to make decisions and guide their projects within reasonable parameters.
  3. Recognize small wins:Managing projects can be a slog into details with little to show for it. Find small wins to celebrate. Make a big deal of the importance and tie it back to the project manager and their team.
  4. Support their decisions:There is nothing more important than supporting your project managers. Of course, providing constructive feedback is essential; however, when in the heat of the battle, it is vital to support your project manager’s decisions. Without this support at critical junctures, the project will suffer, and the project manager will become dismayed.
  5. Promote the project:Promoting the project throughout the organization can do quite a lot for its chances of success. How do you get resources to want to join your project team? Start by being attractive. This oftentimes goes back to how compelling the project seems. Make it so! Do you think the best leaders’ projects for improving margins happen to be more enticing than the average leaders’ projects of the same type? No; perception becomes a reality.

Since projects will have a substantial effect on your customer loyalty and bottom line – the two most critical aspects of any business – it is worthwhile taking a few steps back to think about the project managers driving these results. If you think about their impact, a million dollars might not be sufficient. Therefore, start thinking about your project managers as though they have a million-dollar impact and results will follow.

 

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