Tips To Manage Change In Your Manufacturing Plant
nature often drives people to resist change. That’s because adjusting requires
facing the unknown, relinquishing some control, and moving out of comfort
zones. But failing to change can mean that companies are stuck applying
yesterday’s processes to today’s problems which is clearly not a winning
matter the industry, change is inevitable. But manufacturers in particular
pressure to adopt and implement new technologies that produce
greater efficiency and productivity on the plant floor. CIOs and other leaders
are especially feeling the stress to sell key stakeholders and employees on
changes. McKinsey reported that 70
percent of all transformations fail, citing lack of employee
engagement and inadequate management support as the top reasons. Yet, with
worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies expected to
percent to $1.3 trillion in 2018, many companies are appraising
implementation strategies. And if companies fail to consider how to manage the
change before embarking on a project, they’re ignoring what could be their
are various models
for managing change, but the overarching principles all stress
thorough planning and communication. As soon as you decide to implement a new
technology, it is important to begin working on your plan.
high level, a holistic approach to change management has proven effective for
manufacturers. This method looks beyond the immediate needs of the plant and
addresses long-term strategic goals. The following change management tips can
guide plant managers through the next technology implementation initiative.
Tip 1: Start With Why
for the sake of change is not strategic nor is it productive. Begin by asking
some questions: Why change a process that already works? Why disturb a method
for success that hasn’t encountered issues? Has a Manufacturing Change Request
or Order been initiated on this issue?
layering new technology over an old, ineffective process isn’t going to amount
to increased value. To pinpoint where change is needed, take a broad look at
the overall operations of the plant and determine where to cut costs and
each group of stakeholders has different reasons for why they need change.
Engineers want an easier workflow, finance wants to keep costs low, and the IT
team wants to spend less time fixing problems. Knowing why the change is needed
can help determine how to effectively implement it.
Tip 2: Prepare To
stakeholders in mind will also help leaders prepare for how each group will
react to the change. As we know, the uncertainty and fear caused by shifting
technologies often leads to reluctance and resistance. Connecting with
employees most affected by the changes can help you identify which aspects
might be met with the most opposition.
particular, technologies that involve artificial intelligence (AI) and
automation tend to create
the belief that increased efficiency means a decreased workforce.
For instance, employees might worry that a change could mean more work for
them, as there may be unexpected glitches in the process they have to sort out.
Being in touch with these people and their feelings helps leaders empower teams
with information to understand the technology, making the change a more
Tip 3: Establish Clear
poll found that only 33 percent of U.S. workers are engaged at
work, due to poor communication and unclear expectations. Lack of employee
engagement leads to lower productivity and lower profits for businesses
success for employees’ roles is not only important for employees’ day to day,
but for the entire change management process. This means setting success
metrics and establishing what change looks like for each role. Set meaningful
milestones so employees know when to measure progress. And celebrate these
milestones when they are reached so employees are encouraged to continue
performing well. When employees see their peers praised, they are more
motivated to continue that high level of performance and win the praise of
Tip 4: Prioritize
Training... And More Training
is an essential part of a change management plan. For employees to feel
comfortable with a new technology, it’s necessary to train them for proficiency
it before it even goes live. And you should revisit training as the technology
scales. These trainings uncover opportunities to troubleshoot problems and
improve usage plans in ways that wouldn’t have necessarily been considered.
from training, be sure to provide the right support tools so employees have
ways to deal with issues as they occur.
Tip 5: Look Past The Finish
management is about achieving a long-term effect, so the process requires
long-term effort. Follow up with all stakeholders involved and request feedback
on how the change has fit into their routines. Solicit this feedback often and
make adjustments as needed. Maintain a “change leadership” mindset—that is,
continuing to communicate and refine the vision for transformation.
management requires strategic thinking and planning to ensure the greatest
chance of success. Moving a sometimes reluctant workforce through a new
technology implementation can prove challenging, but it can also be rewarding.
Proactive planning and effective communication are key for ensuring your next
technology initiative is successful at the employee level and achieves business
Steve Smith is VP of Strategic
Industries at ClickSoftware. Article courtesy of IMPO (www.impomag.com).