Teams, members of staff, business partners.
A company’s biggest tool to implement its strategy
If I was asked what is the most common mistake that SMEs make regarding running their business I would ask: “Not making the most of the staff”
This is a story about how a company almost lost one of their most important customers because a manager reluctance to train his team
London, UK 2013. A start-up founder had just secured a big investment to take her company to the next phase.
Marketing and product development were fine. They needed an operations plan, a bigger warehouse and a software to manage customers’ orders.
We started working with lots of enthusiasm and, six months later, we were ready.
Together with the new place, a new technology was also implemented to manage orders. This automated most of the warehouse manager's duties. And, among other features, would allow orders to be received straight into the system with no user intervention
That day was supposed a normal day of trading.
The MD and I were having a meeting when the warehouse team leader called. They were expecting a big order from one of their most important customers. The order was not in the system!
The warehouse manager was off sick and nobody in the logistics team knew what to do. We tried for half an hour with no success; the customer’s truck arrived to load, he was told ther was no order ready and left the warehouse without the goods.
The delivery of one of the most important orders from the new customer was missed.
The investigation that followed was painful but necessary. This is what happened:
- The Warehouse manager didn’t automate the order receiving functionality of the new system as he wanted to check every order using some spreadsheets before it was accepted.
- After the check, orders were loaded manually in the system by him.
- He didn’t teach his team how to perform that and other tasks in the new system. Rather they were asked to download, edit, save and file documents manually
As a result, that day when he was not in, nobody knew how to do their job and the deadline was missed
The team members felt like they were side-lined.
They wanted to use the new system. They wanted to learn the new processes.
But nobody thought them how
The MD decided to fire the warehouse manager. Which is a decision I disagreed with. To me firing a team member should be the very last thing to do. She asked me to stay for three more months as an interim warehouse manager, training the logistic team with the new software and the new operations plan. I also helped in the selection of the new Warehouse manager.
The new resource took over and stepped in the new role smoothly
All the solutions implemented helped the company to reduce waste. Yet no food company can expect to operate on a zero wastage. Therefore, in addition to work towards reducing wastage, food companies must be able to manage the waste
The most valuable tool food companies can use to manage waste is to have a budget. A waste budget.
Usually defined in terms of a percentage of the total inventory value to be measured weekly or monthly. By checking our real wastage figures against the budget, we can spot any problem or trend before it becomes an issue.
Again, the secret is measure it, so it can be managed.
As managers, training and coaching our employees is essential.
We can delegate and have more time for strategic tasks
Our staff will be more empowered and motivated to do their job better
Training and delegating are part of a natural improvement process that affects our personal and professional life
The most common excuses for not training staff?
- I am too busy
That’s because your staff is not trained, and you can’t delegate!
- I don’t need to delegate, I am fine doing this myself
Sure. But what if you didn’t need to? Would you find something more valuable to do?
- My team will never be capable of doing that. It’s not worth training them
Really? Well maybe then you need to rethink the way you hire, or you just underestimate your staff (Or overestimate yourself...)
- What if they get better then me?
This is, as a leader, what you should aim to do
Only those who believe they have nothing to learn should fear being replaced.