Since talent has become a strategic topic for any executive who wishes to thrive in 2020 and beyond, it should top of mind for every manufacturing and distribution business owner or executive. Have you put time aside to think about this critical topic with your top team? If not, stop now and do it!
We have recently re-surveyed manufacturing and distribution executives, hiring managers, and related trusted advisors, and there is unanimous agreement that the skills gap remains. We also talked with business owners and executives from a wide range of manufacturing and distribution industries. Talent is a hot topic for several critical reasons:
- Demographics – as baby boomers retire, it is leaving a gap in experience and expertise. It is a struggle to absorb or replace adequately.
- Technology – with the increase in technology required to run our businesses while providing not only a superior customer experience so that we can grow but also with high levels of profitability and working capital, having talent with the skills to maximize the use of technology is essential. It is also changing the makeup of the talent required.
- Skilled trades – there is a significant gap in the skilled trades such as CNC operators. There hasn’t been enough focus on the high school and community college career path into the sector. Those that find a way to bridge this gap have a leg up on the competition.
- Leaders – whether high-tech or low-tech, leaders play a pivotal role in performance. It is FAR too often we see executives trade down to save money instead of looking at the return on investment over a multi-year period!
- Complexity – we live in a global, complex world with increasing rules and regulations to navigate.
How can we future-proof talent? There are a few priorities we should pursue immediately.
- Think ahead: Don’t hire, retain, and train for what is needed today. Instead, focus on where you’ll need to be in one year to thrive.
- Partner: If you need skilled trades, technology savvy resources and the like, consider partnerships. Successful executives have set up programs with local community colleges, partnered with trade associations such as the Association for Supply Chain Management (APICS – listen to the video below), collaborated with a makerspace academy such as Vocademy, brought in trsuted advisors, collaborated with competitors and more.
- Evaluate technology: Evaluate which technology will provide a return on investment and spur profitable growth. There is no need to chase shiny objects but you should think prudently about how to accelerate success.
- Mentor: There is little better than establishing a mentoring process. Although training can be effective, people learn quickest through behavioral change modeling and feedback.
- Be attractive: You are in competition for your talent – both retaining top talent as well as finding new talent.
Proactively addressing this Skills Gap and future-proofing your manufacturing operations and extended supply chain is cornerstone to growth plans. Lately, we’ve seen an increase in interest for an organizational structure and talent assessment to ensure the organization is shored up to deliver performance plans. If you’d like assistance in evaluating your readiness to meet business objectives, please contact us.