Aerospace and Automotive OEMs are responding to cuts in demand by reducing their own teams and this reduced demand is already being experienced by the supply chain.
Now is the perfect time for CEOs to be taking the opportunity to streamline their own companies.
Our true objective is to have the right team in place ready for the recovery but immediate imperatives focus our actions. The obvious approach is to look for the most cost-effective way to rationalise through early retirement and more recent starters.
We are all born equal but with different personalities and those character traits cause us to be naturally better at some things than others. We assume that we gravitate towards the roles we are best at, however, the availability of jobs when we start our careers, having the right education and being in the right place at the right time means that this is often not the case.
We also need to be assured that we are getting the best from our teams and must add the additional challenge of remote working, making it less easy to give those teams close direction so we need those in post who naturally work in the best way in their roles.
You can assure yourself that you have the right team performing their best for your company, with personal development plans that they can be working on remotely together with a detailed, monitored business improvement agenda they can also be working on with remote, professional guidance at the same time.
So what do we do now?
- Build a competent team to drive forward
- Consolidate what you have
- Cut out all waste.
All manufacturing businesses rely on people and their interaction with the technology, processes and systems that enable the organisation to function. If not maintained, the information and data needed to understand what needs to be done, and by when, degrades making effective decisions almost impossible, so spreadsheets and planning boards become the way forward. However underlying issues remain, for example:
- Raw materials data correct? … can we make it?
- Bills of materials correct? … are we about to make the right things?
- Is work release to the factory correct? … are we sure when we can make it?
- Finished goods stock information correct? … are we sure when we can deliver it?
As the managers and business owners lose faith in the control processes and systems a “let’s just get things done,” attitude develops as the shop floor supervision tries to deal with the day to day issues.
More inventory is injected into the overall business as a buffer requiring more cash, typically to the value of 5% of turnover, than would have been required if the issues were eliminated (In a typical £5m turnover business that’s £250k of cash that could be better utilised)
All of these issues are created or affected by people, their experience and ability to carry out the key roles of the business. In any downsizing activity business owners need to end up with a team that is both eligible and suitable.
Eligibility is about the skills and experience needed to do the job. Suitability is about having the necessary attributes to carry it out. Most organisations will go to great lengths to establish if people they are going to hire (or keep in a downsizing activity) “know their stuff,” relying on past experience, CV’s and interviews but spend little if any effort to establish Suitability.
…and Suitability has a big impact upon an individual’s ability to do their job effectively.
Translate this into a manufacturing environment.
You are hiring a planner. Which candidate would be the better for your business?
- One who has a thought process that is about making quick decisions and comes rapidly to conclusions and is usually more comfortable making those decisions without taking time to think through the consequences, or
- One that tends to take things seriously and carefully consider decisions and their implications for the business?
Such attributes can be critical to success or failure and they are different for each of the key roles within an organisation.
A shop floor supervisor who came up through the ranks and has been taught that the only “value-added” work was done in the factory and that all of this “office stuff” is wasted effort, is unlikely to respond appropriately to a well planned and organised environment.
These factors have a significant impact on their ability to be effective, which in turn affects the reliability of the processes and information that others absolutely rely on to do their own jobs effectively, such as ensuring the correct materials arrive in time for the next job launch.
This is even more important now that our teams are working substantially remotely and their ability to check information is compromised.
In order to rebuild, you have to understand where to attack the problems. There is a need to assess people capability, knowledge is usually straight forward to evaluate, suitability more difficult but tools are now available to do this.
Additionally, processes and current data needs to be reviewed to understand the problems that exist. These activities can be carried out in parallel with a focus on people in key roles having the right skills and attributes that will provide an effective way forward.
Effective processes delivering accurate data and the right people with relevant skills and attributes will enable the building of a winning team to move the business forward.
…and all of this can be done cost effectively and remotely.