Tag Archive: performance management

The Amazon Effect

February 11th, 2014
How can you achieve the Amazon effect? It starts with exceptional customer service.

How can you achieve the Amazon effect?

Although I’ve been mentioning the Amazon effect a lot lately, I thought it deserved it’s own priority. It’s become the phrase that means “exceptional service” (Sunday deliveries, no-hassle refunds), rapid delivery (same day shipping is becoming commonplace) and the latest technology (drones).

It syncs up 100% with what I’m seeing at my manufacturing and distribution clients. Customers are no longer satisfied with on-time deliveries, they want reduced lead times and partnership type service. The norm in several industries such as aerospace is for the supplier to manage deliveries for the customer, keeping the customer at high levels of service with minimal inventory. How can you achieve the Amazon effect?

  1. 24/7  – e-commerce is an assumption for all types of business. Customers should be able to review products, look up order status etc. anytime.
  2. Extra mile service – How special do you feel when you interact with your supplier? Have you ever gone into a high end restaurant and requested an item they did not have in stock? Did someone run to a competitor to get it for you?
  3. Rapid delivery – You cannot get much faster than same-day delivery! How about Sunday deliveries? Will your employees answer the phone for the customer that calls after the end of their day?
  4. Collaborative programs – What is better than taking over the job for your customer? Keep them supplied with the right product in the right place at the right time and make it seamless to them. What’s not to like?
  5. Suggestions of value – Customers think they know what they want but often do not know what they need. How can you give them more than they expect (or a better solution than they imagine) that aligns with their unspoken (or not-yet-thought-of) needs?
  6. FriendlyAs obvious as this seems, it doesn’t always occur. Do all of your employees act as if every customer, supplier and colleague is a key customer?


Did you like this article? Continue Reading on this Topic

Why Customer Service Must Be #1

Customer Service

How Do We Create a Customer Service Edge?

Does Customer Service Matter?


The Skills Gap

January 28th, 2014
LMA Consulting Group Skills Gap

With an increasingly complex business environment, businesses need to know how to resolve skill gaps in their workplace.

The skills gap is a rapidly growing issue for manufacturers and distributors.  Almost every day that I go into a client, go to a trade association meeting or talk with colleagues, I hear of someone who has retired, decided to change careers, jumped ship for a better opportunity or I hear of a company with too few high-skilled resources for what’s required to succeed.  Worse yet, according to the survey my firm conducted in conjunction with APICS Inland Empire, 77% are struggling to fill these positions.

The business environment has increased in complexity. Just think of a few of the recent complexities:  1) global 2) extended supply chains 3) increased regulations, requirements & risks 4) the Amazon effect of the 24/7 customer expecting same-day delivery as commonplace 5) increased focus on sustainability.  Top talent is required to successfully simplify and navigate these waters.

What can executives do to proactively approach this skills gap dilemma?  Three of the top strategies include: 1) Retain your talent.  2) Develop your talent.  3) Attract top talent.

1.   Retain your talent:  Although this might seem obvious, it is the most often overlooked strategy for success.  As employees are gaining comfort with the recovery, they are pursuing opportunities that offer greater responsibility, opportunities for career progression, flexibility (including remote work and/or are closer to their home), and money – just to name a few.  Are you thinking about how to retain your top talent?

Of course there are a few reasons which are tough to avoid such as retirement and a dramatic reduction in the commute; however, in my experience, the vast majority of reasons can be avoided.  It boils down to leadership.  Do your leaders appreciate their employee’s value?  Do they hold folks accountable?  Interestingly enough, top talent will stay when they see that non-performers are being addressed.  Yes, you must make the tough decisions!  Do your leaders make time to talk with employees about goals?  Offer support?  Who do they prioritize?  The lack of time is not a resource; it’s a priority.

Don’t even think about training and development programs or recruiting if you don’t have solid retention programs in place.  You’ll be even busier and yet still fail.  Instead, you must start with this fundamental!

2.   Develop your talent: In my experience, there are two key ways to develop your people:  1) Training and development programs.  2) Mentor programs.  Exceptional leaders do not consider this an either-or situation but instead require both.

Training and development programs achieve the following goals:  1) Show the employees that you value them.  2) Provide training on specific skills.  3) Provide development opportunities required for career progression such as an international assignment or a cross-functional role.

These types of programs can be an essential element of a significant culture change such as the journey of lean, SIOP (sales, inventory & operations planning), an ERP upgrade and a merger and acquisition.  What better way to bring employees up-to-speed on new concepts?  In addition, these programs can be invaluable in training for new job skills.  As the business environment becomes more complex and employers are reluctant to hire up to pre-recession levels, a broader range of skills is no longer a nice-to-have.  It has become a “must”!

Mentor programs can be invaluable.  In order to develop new behaviors required for a job, there is no alternative.  Mentoring gives the employee a way to observe someone who has “been there and done that”.  Then, the employee can trial or test out new behaviors, and the mentor will provide feedback and guide them to success.

3.   Attract top talent:  This is third by design as it is often more successful to retain and develop than it is to hire new talent.  With that said, you must always be on the lookout for top talent – and ensuring your organization will attract top talent.  Would potential employees want to work for your company?  Your leaders?  What do they hear in the press?  What will their friends and colleagues tell them?  In today’s world, the best employees come via referral.

Hiring is a much tougher task than it seems.  I venture to guess that almost every hiring manager has “stunk” at the hiring process at one point in his/her career.  I certainly did!  How do you know the seemingly perfect candidate will deliver?  You must do the hard work to decide what you expect of the potential hire.  Don’t worry so much about the typical job description information – a compilation of tasks.  Instead, what results are you expecting?  How can you be assured your candidate will be the right one?

My colleague and friend Janet Boydell has an effective process that she calls the Fast Forward Resume which has proven highly effective.  It is well worth reading up on and pursuing – IF you want to hire the right person. She has two books on the topic – A Hire Connection and You’re Not the Person I Hired: A CEO’s Survival Guide to Hiring Top Talent.

My passion for my original brand Profit through People is not by accident.  I’ve always believed in pragmatic and tangible results.  These cannot be achieved without top talent.  Thus, you must circle back to the fundamentals.  Even in today’s complex world, these successful strategies of retaining, developing and hiring top talent are quite simple.  Simple but not easy to implement…….will you be one of the few to pursue?

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

Critical Priority: Retaining Top Talent

Hard to Find Needed Talent

December 10th, 2013
77% of those surveyed are struggling to hire people with all of the required skill sets.

77% of those surveyed are struggling to hire people with all of the required skill sets.

Manufacturers and distributors cannot find top talent!  In a survey conducted by my firm, LMA Consulting Group Inc. in conjunction with the APICS-Inland Empire chapter, it was found that 77% of manufacturers are struggling to find qualified candidates to fill open positions.

Over the last several years, supply chains have become more complex.  There are countless reasons why this is true; however, a few that pop to mind include:  1) Supply chains have been extended and are increasingly global.  2) Volatility is the new norm – supply chain partners can go out of business, experience dramatic growth etc.  3) Political instability remains in many areas – most likely, something in your supply chain is produced there or dependent on these places.  4) Natural disasters occur – hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes can create havoc.  5) Supply chain security is a challenge.  6) Sustainability is gaining momentum.  7) Regulations and requirements have added complexity.  8) Recessions, depressions, exchange rates to boot.

As supply chains have become more complex, companies must keep up in order to survive – or preferably, thrive.  Thus, a broader range of skills are required to successfully navigate through these complexities.  Suddenly, companies require a higher skilled employee base than before.  However, it’s the rare exception of a company who has invested in their employees.  During the recession, what companies invested heavily in training?  Who hired top talent at top dollar?  Who implemented retention programs?   In my experience, most employees were fortunate if they kept their job and salary intact.  So, is it any wonder that finding top talent is difficult?

The complete Manufacturing and Distribution Skills Gap report will be available in mid-December.  To automatically receive the free report when it is available, register here.

Those companies who find a way to ACCELERATE progress on these key priorities will surpass their competition.  What are you doing to ensure success?



The Power Of Relationships

October 24th, 2013
Never underestimate the importance of relationships - especially their effect on the bottom line.

Never underestimate the importance of relationships – especially their effect on the bottom line.

The power of relationships is immense! I typically partner with clients to accomplish significant bottom line results on a wide variety of topics ranging from organizational change and culture projects to process projects such as service improvement, inventory reduction and lean programs to technical projects such as leveraging and implementing ERP systems, and there is one common element across all of them – the power of relationships. To add fuel to the fire, it also holds true for personal success.

As tempting as it might be for executives to think that “all will be fine” if only they implement the latest fad (even if it is a “good” fad such as lean, green or whatever will be the next fad, probably rhyming with “een”), technical bell and whistle or best practice process, don’t fall in the trap! Although many of these might be valuable from one perspective or another (which is why it is so common to take a trip down this rabbit hole), the 80/20 rule to achieving bottom line results goes back to people. So, why waste so much time, money and resources on the “20” of the 80/20?

In addition to the traditional aspects of people (hiring exceptional people, valuing your employees, following a simple yet effective performance management process etc.), there is nothing more critical to success than developing and leveraging the power the relationships. Thus, a few tips include: 1) Take stock. 2) Build relationships. 3) Value your relationships.

1. Take stock – It sounds silly but it is not bad to start with simplicity – what relationships do you have currently? Which are those you consider long-term partners (customers, suppliers, trade association members, brokers, other people at your company or client, etc.) and/or people you’d like to stay connected to for the long term? Which are shorter in nature yet critical for a period of time? Which are already on a solid track? Which need help? Take a step back and think about how you’d prioritize? For example, as a leader, it is typical to spend the majority of your time on your non-performers yet your top performers deliver 80% of the results – where should you focus?

2. Build relationships – I’d be surprised if you didn’t find someone you need to build a relationship with and/or a relationship to nurture. So, how do you begin? How about taking a step back and thinking of how you can provide value to your employee, your boss, your customer, your supplier or whoever you’ve identified? No point in starting with what you want – how is that interesting to the other person? It’s not! Instead, ask compelling questions and listen – you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to build a relationship.

3. Value Your Relationships – My neighbor across the street from my house passed away suddenly recently – such a nice man. 15+ years ago, I remember him always wandering by to check on things if need be, and he really liked and appreciated my parents as they were whirlwind gardeners (and he didn’t even know what they did in the house!) – they came for a long weekend, and my garden/ landscaping could go from so-so to great in 8 hours flat! It makes you think – do you take your relationships for granted or do you value them? The same is true of your best, low-maintenance customer or supplier that you always overlook for your high-maintenance, low profitability customer.

There is only one nugget of wisdom which spanned every role in my 20+ year career without exception which ranged from roles of Production Planner to Project & Transition manager to VP of Supply Chain & Operations to Business Consultant, Entrepreneur and President of LMA Consulting Group, Inc. and APICS Inland Empire (and non-profits do throw a few wrenches into the mix) – it is the undeniable power of relationships. Think of it this way – who is there for you when the unexpected occurs? What are you doing to build and nurture your relationships?

Retaining Top Talent – a Must for Success

October 22nd, 2013
Perception is reality and underappreciated employees move onto other oppotunities .

Perception is reality and underappreciated employees move onto other oppotunities .

Retaining top talent should always be a priority for supply chain management; however, in today’s market, losing even one top player, especially a project manager, can make the difference between success and failure.

Since the recession, employers have expected logistics employees to be generalists. In essence, employees at all levels in an organization are expected to wear multiple hats seamlessly. At the same time, people are getting tired. In some cases, they’ve worked for years with minimal or no pay increases while expanding their responsibilities. Although they might be appreciated, often times, they do not know it.

Perception is reality. Therefore, I’ve seen a trend in my business consulting clients, and in my networks of folks beginning to change jobs. This is creating a panic as they leave huge gaps in their wake.

For example, at one of my clients, an entire department left the company over the course of 6 months. That might be considered a black hole! On the other hand, I know of folks in my networks who get job queries frequently who are committed and stay the course.

Let’s guess which companies those are? The ones that have performance management systems in place with leaders who collaborate on goals, appreciate employees, provide challenges, address the roadblocks (even the unpleasant ones), etc. Interestingly, those who have managers who are willing to provide constructive feedback and address problem employees are much more likely to stay than those who steer clear of the conflicts.

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

Critical Priority: Retaining Top Talent.