Labor Management is a powerful tool that can allow an organization to have the visibility needed to improve operational efficiency. From highlighting functional throughput to revealing operational bottlenecks, having a sound Labor Management design and implementation is key to realizing these potentials. To maximize the benefits from your Labor Management solution, there are several key areas that need to be carefully considered.
Identifying the Needs
Labor Management, more than most implementations, requires a precisely planned execution. While this is critical information, many companies often start the project without fully understanding what they want to see at the end of the project. Enticing functionalities should not determine how to carry out the project. Rather, your detailed requirements should be the driving factor of the project –
Design: How you design your labor management system will determine what metric numbers are shown for each level. Here are a few questions to consider:
- What metric numbers do you need to see – Throughput, performance, cost per unit, etc.?
- At which level will these reports be used – senior management level, DC management level, operational level, supervisor level, employee level, etc?
- How can your current operation benefit from Labor Management – reducing gap time/indirect time, increasing productivity, creating fairer measurement?
- What does the daily job look like for the managers, supervisors, and employees?
This isn’t the time to hear about the functionalities that the software offers, but this is the time to express what you want to see at the end of the project.
Which party should be involved?
Frankly, all parties, from the executives to the team members, must be involved for a successful change management. The changes must be executed and encouraged from the highest level. The supervisors are the ones that will experience the biggest change, which can create some resistance. However, when approached wisely, the pushback can turn into enthusiasm.
Leadership (VP/Director/Managers) – Your decision to implement Labor Management shows that you believe in the effectiveness of this program.
- Communicate your vision. It may require a campaign to communicate the vision clearly and eliminate any irrational fears that the employees may have.
- Sponsor the program. Provide incentives and market the program in a very enthusiastic manner.
- Provide necessary training. Most people are fearful of change. Rather than giving them a new tool to learn overnight, provide sufficient training for a smooth transition.
- Eliminate the fear for job security.
Supervisors – Your role has the biggest impact on the success of the project.
- Explore the system. Spend time exploring the system and make it your own. There will be daily guidelines provided to you, but personalizing the system will make your daily job easier.
- Provide feedback. You spend the most time in the system, and you are also the expert at your job. So if something isn’t working for you, let the leadership know. Similarly, if you find something useful, share it with fellow supervisors.
Team Members – As long as you’re a diligent worker, you’re not the victim of this program. Rather, rejoice, because now you no longer need to pick up the slack for others!
- Do not fear. Job security is the biggest fear for the employees when implementing a labor program. However, labor management exists to provide visibility so that everyone can be held accountable at the equal standard.
- Follow the SOP. The standards are built based on the SOPs, which describes the most optimal way to complete the task. If you stick to your personal procedure, the standards may work against you.
Supervisor and Employee Buy-In – Is Everyone on Board?
Communication – Be upfront and clearly communicate the purpose of the project. Per Change and Communication ROI Study (2013-2014), 68% of senior managers felt that they understood the reason for major changes, but that number drops to 53% and 40% for managers and supervisors respectively.
Identifying the Flaws – People will seek changes where areas for improvement are identified. Likewise, changes are feared where everything seems fine. Also, help them to understand that there are flaws in the current system, thus the need for the new labor management. It would also be helpful to include their input in identifying the needs.
Training – Continuous training is a key to supervisor buy-in. Per the CCROI study mentioned above, 87% of respondents claimed to train their managers for the change, but only 22% of the managers felt that it was effective. Imagine you’re a supervisor with 10 years of experience monitoring your employees through excel sheets, and now you’ve been told to monitor and assign your employees on a tablet. Overwhelmed? Fear for your job? Maybe even feeling a bit rebellious? Therefore, continuous training is vital in getting the supervisor’s buy-in. Daily SOPs and training documents may become helpful in this process.
Building Credibility – Include supervisors and employees in the process of creating the SOPs and standards. If they’re included in the process, they have a better understanding of how the standards are built. Building credibility allows the supervisors to coach the employees based on the numbers that they trust. Similarly, the employees will have confidence in the standards since they understand how it was built.
Monetary/Non-Monetary Incentive – Labor management often carries a negative connotation: a tool that only disciplines. However, it can also be a tool that rewards those who are performing exceptionally. It can be as small as a shirt or designated parking spot. Anything that acknowledges their effort will help them understand that they can use the system to their advantage rather than being the victim of a new system.
End of a Fairy Tale
According to these statistics, it’s very possible that you may have experienced an unsuccessful implementation, and all of this sounds a bit too ideal. Whether from experience or learning materials, we often seem to know what to do; however, sometimes, it takes a leap of faith to take action. Creating a campaign and rewarding employees with a T-shirt may sound silly. Acquiring everyone’s input and communicating the vision to every level may seem unnecessary. Ironically, you may not even have identified exactly what you want before the start of the project. Maybe it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate. Identify and execute. Your success is now en route!