The printing industry is experiencing a time of both extreme near term stress and future projections of labour shortages. Many companies are struggling to keep all of their employees working in the short-term knowing how hard it could be to win them back in the future when volumes return to normal.
To weather this storm and grow, your workforce plan must be an integral component of the strategy. The path forward should consider the alignment of the current skillsets in your team to your strategy and a plan for development of any necessary skillsets that are lacking. Most importantly, the team MUST be engaged in driving the change.
This is not a one-size-fits-all solution but everyone needs to consider the same three pillars:
- Provide a sense of stability and control
- Understand the people on your team and workforce dynamics
- Make real people, not just “open positions” central to the strategy
Demonstrate Stability and Control
Providing clear direction and demonstrating more control from a leadership perspective during times of change is one of the paradoxes of change leadership. When everything around them has basically turned upside-down, people need to feel that someone is in control.
Since a person’s boss is one of the key relationships in their life, knowing their employer has a strategy when a change in direction is required helps to allay their concern and keep them engaged. While it may seem counterintuitive, it is necessary for leaders to reassure stability and set boundaries and control when the company needs to pivot quickly.
Leaders don’t have to be the heroes, though!
You shouldn’t take a “closed door” approach to the change. Many leaders worry about having the strategy “correct” without realizing that no strategy can ever be correct without understanding the details within the processes and the people who support them.
The high-level road-map you communicate provides the framework for the journey, but as I noted in the last post, that journey will not be successful unless the entire company is prepared to tread that path.
Understanding the dynamics of the team and then engaging them in defining how they contribute to achieving the goals of the organization helps to flesh-out the strategy AND bring them along for the ride.
Understand the Dynamics of the Team
You and the people on your team are most likely grappling with a barrage of emotions right now – fear, uncertainty, disorientation and perhaps even anger. Many may not feel safe getting to work even if you have worked hard to make them feel safe being at work. But, fear and uncertainty applies to more than the changes brought on by the pandemic. Any change in the organization from acquiring inkjet or a new MIS system to reorganizing the shop floor or a change in management can be stressful.
Rather than relying on your gut when it comes to understanding your individual team members and the dynamics of the team, use proven assessment tools for gathering objective data that can quickly highlight individual strengths and any potential blind spots. Better understanding of each individual team member and what they contribute to “how work gets done” provides invaluable insight for moving forward.
This information highlights avenues for working more effectively with your whole team, tapping into strengths and coaching where needed, and informs areas where additional skillsets may be needed to support your objectives as well as which people are most likely to succeed with cross-training.
Make the Team Central to the Strategy
Once you have a better understanding of the people on the journey with you, make the team an integral part of the strategy. No strategy can be correct without understanding the details within the processes and the people who execute them – they hold the keys to success.
Engage the team in defining how they contribute to achieving the business goals, identifying the gaps and being a part of developing the strategy for closing those gaps. Assess how the strengths of each team member support achievement of key objectives. Leverage their knowledge of the processes, the current problems and the needed improvements to frame actions necessary to achieve the go forward plan. Be cognizant of blind spots that may exist and define mitigation strategies to prevent them from sabotaging forward progress.
With the insight gained thru this process, it should be clearer as to who on your team can adapt to change and help drive it forward and where you may need to engage additional skills sets and/or look at organizational realignment.
It bears repeating that your workforce plan is key to achieving your strategy and now more than ever ensuring that your workforce is stable and firing on all cylinders is imperative to success – perhaps even survival. Designing a workforce strategy that enables achievement of your goals involves ensuring:
- The right people are in the job
- That career paths exist for the people who are aligned with your strategy to inspire them to stay
- Training needs are addressed for any blind-spots that have been brought to light
- Coaching is occurring to keep people focused on the end goals
- Communication is continuous, clear and in human context