Volume 8 Number 9 - September 8, 2010

If you know a company — customer, supplier, friend, or your own — that could benefit
from improved operations, from improved operations, let us know.
Your best interest is our best interest.

The Finish Strong® monthly e-newsletter is for business leaders who recognize Operations as a strategic function that creates competitive advantage, profitability and brand loyalty to the marketplace.

The "bell curve" represents the skill and potential levels of the employee base for most companies. Microsoft tries to hire from the right side of the "hiring pool" bell curve, but nonetheless has a bell curve within its employee base. Not all bright valuable employees will reach the top; not all of them will move up the organizational chart to that Director, VP, or Manager level that so many covet. Yet you want to keep those high performers energized and working in your company.

I have seen companies promote out of loyalty rather than " fit;" create and fill higher level positions without describing the gap in skill sets or experience that required an external selection; and leave titles unchanged and undervalued despite greatly increased responsibilities. Any of these actions can communicate unintended messages that cause good people to leave.

The Production Manager (for example) of a $100MM company is a very different job than that of a $20MM company. A failure by company leadership to specifically acknowledge that fact may result in an employee who believes he hasn't succeeded because his title hasn't changed. Or that his employer is abusing him by still paying him in accordance with the $20MM level. Or that since he has the title he must be doing the job. None of these are healthy.

In a family-owned and operated business, can you hire the top notch leader you want if he knows that only "blood" will reach the top? Recruiting may specifically address the growth in responsibilities and pay that will come with company success, regardless of last name. Better to find the right person than the opportunistic one who becomes bitter and leaves at his first opportunity.

Management loses credibility when a perceived incompetent is promoted. If a person appears unqualified on technical expertise, emphasize the desired skill sets he brings and how they support success in the role.

Look at your team to identify those who are important to ongoing company success. Ask about their goals, discuss how that fits into current and anticipated business needs as well as their potential to get there, and define a plan that meets the needs of all. It's easy to be too busy managing your team to grow and respect them.

A Cleveland-based company, that requests anonymity, has experienced the recent recession along with most manufacturers. While sales have returned to prior levels, the company has rational concerns about the economic outlook.

Despite that uneasiness, the company's owner chose to use part of profits since the recovery to make every employee whole. Every person who took a pay cut or was furloughed was given money to make up what was lost.

Sounds to me like that owner truly does believe that his employees are his most important resource!



Gary Mintchell, Editor in Chief of Automation World, recently interviewed Rebecca Morgan to get her thoughts on manufacturing and operations strategy. To link to the article, click here.


The Starting Pistol
Al Holaday (VP, Whirlpool Corp):
"Every one can pretty much duplicate the manufacturing process. What I can't do is duplicate the experienced work force."

The Tape
Rebecca Morgan:
"...so increasing the knowledge and productivity of employees can provide competitive advantage that low-wage countries cannot copy."


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