So, you recently went to a conference and sat in on a session by a consultant or software vendor (hopefully not both) about this awesome labor management program they implemented for a client.  They improved productivity by 15% – sounds pretty good, right?  The consultant talked about their engineering prowess, the software guy did a demo of the LMS.  The client smiled and discussed some results.  No, I wasn’t at your conference – but I’ve heard this spiel many times.

The trouble is that you may not see them together at the conference next year because the client has had trouble sustaining the early success of the “program”.  There is a pretty good chance it was caused by an implementation with a software and engineering bias.  Not enough emphasis was placed on the PEOPLE – associates and management – that play the key roles in these types of programs.

Associate engagement is of critical importance.  A high level of involvement during the implementation will improve acceptance and buy-in.  Allowing their participation in naming the program, refining processes (Kaizen), designing incentives and planning celebrations has a huge impact on morale.  Good morale, happy associates, good program.

It is also important to take the time to educate the associates on program policies, best methods and how to perform well against the new measurements (standards).  This will require management to be transparent and share information freely and frequently.  Regular coaching sessions will become part of management’s daily routine.  Associates who are struggling receive training to improve.

Management’s ability to lead and administer the program is also critical.  It is very common for managers to feel intimidated by the amount of new information available.  In addition, most managers will need to dedicate more time in their day to being on the floor, observing their operations.  This may not be as big of a priority prior to labor management.

Managers will also need to be able to run and interpret new reports and troubleshoot software issues.  And last but not least, managers will need to provide performance feedback to their associates on a daily basis – recognizing those who exceed expectations and coaching those who may need help.  If this sounds like a BIG shift in responsibilities and duties – you are right.  A LOT of training needs to be done during the labor management implementation to make sure your managers are positioned to succeed.

It is also the manager’s responsibility to fairly administer the program.  This is a morale issue.  Remember – good morale, happy associates, good program.  Managers need to make sure that the software is accurately calculating performances and that the data feeding the system is correct.  They need to be wary of any time keeping mistakes or embellishments by associates (cheating).  It is also important for managers to provide the normal operating conditions for the associates.  This will allow them to achieve performance goals.

So, a key to sustainable Performance Excellence is the level of engagement between associates and management.  Excellent engagement results in high morale.  Good morale, happy associates…you know the rest.

As of September 8, 2020, Crimson & Co (formerly The Progress Group/TPG) has rebranded as Argon & Co following the successful merger with Argon Consulting in April 2018. 

Bruce Strahan

[email protected]

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