Tag Archive: consultant

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.


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Are You Retaining Top Talent?

Profit Through People


The Good and Bad of Using Temps, Contractors and Consultants

September 22nd, 2015

When facing short-term staffing challenges, supplement your needs with temps, contractors or consultants. To be successful, be clear on the purpose and staff accordingly.

I find that almost every one of my clients and prospective clients are growing significantly. One complication of growth is to find, upgrade and keep your people. One way to supplement your resources short-term is to hire temps, contractors and consultants.

Each has a different purpose. Temps typically fill in for manufacturing and distribution resource gaps.  For example, if you need assemblers for your operation or machine operators, temps can be a great solution. Contractors and consultants can often be confused; however, I see contractors as highly-skilled resources that typically assist with specific tasks such as programming whereas consultants typically are looking at broad topics and providing recommendations for improvement. Contractors are more likely to fill in for missing positions or specific projects. As a consultant, I find that I typically provide design expertise for strategy, organizations, processes and systems and often fill the advisory and mentor role in implementing the designs.

Many of my clients use temps to fill short-term resource needs to cover spikes in demand, to cover dramatic swings of seasonality, and to support growth early in the cycle. The issue is that it is never as simple as it seems it should be. Certainly, hiring a temp is a great way to test out resources for full-time jobs. It is also a good way to find people with the required prerequisites intact rapidly; however, it doesn’t mean that training can be skipped. Ideally your temp agency is screening candidates to speed up the process and potentially is providing some level of training; however, some sort of training will be required on-the-job. Don’t forget to account for this need.

Temps should not be viewed as long-term resources. They have no loyalty by definition as they fill in for gaps at various companies. You also are not typically providing the same level of training and support to temps vs. full-time resources. Therefore, if you expect to keep temps long-term, you’ll want to transition them into full-time employees for optimal results. That way, efficiencies and quality will be built into the process.

Conceptually, the same holds true with contractors. They fill short-term gaps and can be a valuable way to test out potential employees if growth dictates the need for additional long-term assistance. With consultants, occasionally I’ve filled responsibilities for a role temporarily; however, never full-time. If full-time is required, hire a contractor interested in transitioning into a full-time employee. Typically consultants design improvements with specific objectives, measures and value for the organization, support the implementation from an advisory/mentoring standpoint and move to the next project/objective. This can be invaluable in shoring up talent rapidly without having to hire it upfront. 

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Supply Chain Strategy – Formula for Success

Develop a Talent Edge 


Leverage as a Multiplier

December 5th, 2013
Excellent leverage opportunities are easy to overlook, and a powerful advantage for those who look for them.

Excellent leverage opportunities are easy to overlook, and a powerful advantage for those who look for them.

If you had the opportunity to make $1,000,000 with 100 hours of work or 10,000 hours of work, which would you choose?  It sounds like a no-brainer; however, if that’s true, why do so many supply chain businesses ignore the vast power of leverage?

Utilizing leverage can achieve substantial results.  Leverage is the advantage or power gained by using a lever. A classic example is the story of David and Goliath, where David was able to defeat Goliath because David used the power of leverage (by using a slingshot to defeat a giant). In my experience consulting with clients across multiple industries, geographies and company sizes, I’ve found that those companies that valued leverage achieved greater business results than those who didn’t.  A few keys to using leverage for success include:  1) Think leverage options, 2) People leverage, 3) Automation.

1.  Think leverage options:  There are many forms of leverage – money, resources (people), machines/equipment, systems, etc. The key is to take a step back from your situation or issue and think about leverage options. Although it will take additional time vs. beginning the task, it could save significant cost and/or produce significantly quicker, more sustainable and significant results. I’ve found this to be the critical step that is often overlooked. It is a common problem to have many more tasks requiring completion than is possible to achieve within the specified timeframe, and so employees are often overwhelmed and don’t have time to “put their feet up and think.” One of the most powerful forms of leverage is the power of your mind. Sounds too simple to be true? Be radical and experiment with this concept on one project….the results will likely be staggering.

2.   People leverage:  People leverage is powerful.  In one example in working with a company to improve profitability, the finance leaders suggested labor cost reduction as the key to success – a common “helpful suggestion” regardless of industry. However, in this case, labor costs were miniscule in comparison with other cost elements such as materials and freight.  Of course, it was possible to reduce labor costs and improve profitability; however, the effort spent on this significant effort would achieve only minor benefits. On the other hand, if we increased labor cost in strategic areas (such as investing in people who could impact material costs), we would achieve vast benefit with minimal effort.

 3.   Automation:  One of the key purposes of equipment and systems is to automate processes (hand packing boxes vs. utilizing an automatic packing machine). Therefore, utilizing equipment typically speeds up the process, reduces the likelihood of human errors, and reduces the cost of production (increases your return). In this case, you’ve used leverage (equipment) to automate and achieve significant benefits.  There are countless types and uses for automation.  Think about what will work for your business.  Do not automate for automation’s sake; however, strategic automation can be pivotal.

Leverage doesn’t have to require significant capital investment or complexity. Will you take a fresh look at your organization for leverage opportunities?