The manufacturing industry accounts for about $174bn of Canada’s GDP – representing more than 10% of the country’s total. Numbers in the states are similar at around 11%; so, all round, not insignificant.
Particularly in times like these, manufacturing is paramount to the running of our countries. With that being said, the pandemic thus far has presented a multitude of challenges – challenges which have forced many businesses into a period of change, even transformation, as they try to navigate the Covid era.
Here are some thoughts I’ve put down, to help yours do the same.
Managing operational change in manufacturing: Act upon what you know, not what you don’t
Back in January, when the first whispers about a novel virus were making the rounds, many of us thought that it might come and go like so many other flash-in-the-pan news articles do. Fast forward nine months, and it’s clear that Covid is here for the long haul. As such, there’s no reason to be dallying in terms of what your business does moving forwards – taking action, whether proactive or preventative, is better than doing nothing at all.
Manufacturers need to transition to this ‘new normal’ everyone’s talking about; that means, mobilizing today for business continuity, based on the current circumstances – what we know already. Stop wondering what’s going to happen next; make your workplace safe for employees, take any and all precautions necessary and let go of the ‘riding it out’ or ‘waiting for things to blow over’ attitude. Instead, take actions which ensure you’re able to work alongside Covid – for as long as it might be a part of life.
Managing operational change in manufacturing: Think outside the box – creativity is king, post-Covid
Now is the time to be thinking not about what you’re no longer able to do, but what you could be doing instead. What resources – people, equipment, knowledge – do you have to hand, and how can it be used efficiently? If Covid has taught business leaders within the manufacturing industry anything, it’s that adaptability is crucial; what might have once sounded like an outlandish idea, might just be your ticket to growth under the pandemic.
From craft beer breweries pivoting to hand sanitizer and just about everyone finding a way to now produce face masks and other PPE around the globe, there are ways to keep your business on the move and being productive. You just have to get a little creative.
Managing operational change in manufacturing: Don’t underestimate the power of your people
Just because they haven’t done it before, doesn’t mean they can’t. Just because it may not be the route you had planned, doesn’t mean they won’t take the opportunity with fervour. And just because your staff are facing ongoing, entirely unprecedented challenges, doesn’t mean they won’t be ready, no less willing, to knuckle down.
In the coming months, put a real focus on employee engagement, learning and development. When you know which way the business is going, don’t think, “We don’t have someone who could do that/understands this/is qualified in that,” – think, “Who do we have on the roster who could do this/learn that/become qualified in this?” The manufacturing industry offers so many ways to learn new things – there’s no end to the training available whether online, remote, on-the-job or otherwise. As we learn to navigate the world during and post-Covid, don’t underestimate the adaptability, agility and resilience of your people – push them to progress, and watch them soar.