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Engaging Everyone in Supply Chain

15 May 2020 12:46 PM | Tony Davis

A few weeks ago, on my way to the kitchen, the TV was on national news and this popped, “…only a third of American workers are engaged”. Here we go again. This put me on reflection mode. I am aware of the reasons many workers are not engaged, e.g., they are not valued, inadequate human resources, poor data and systems, dysfunctional organizations, etc. One of these I know well—lack of proper training. As a supply chain professional for over two decades, I have seen my fair share and then some.

Too often companies place people into supply chain roles without training and thrown into a costly haphazard learn-as-you-go system. Most likely the individual did well in a certain area in the past so it is then assumed that he or she will do well again. And so, it goes…if all you have is a hammer, treat everything as if it were a nail. When I pivoted my career from chemical engineering to supply chain, I knew it was comparatively simpler and somewhat more intuitive. I also knew I had to learn the right way to apply it. Just because a business discipline appears to be simpler or about the same as the one you experienced, does not mean you can walk in and be successfully engaged and productive. This is true whether you are a manager or an individual contributor. Supply chain is dynamic and quite often moves very fast. Therefore, you need to know what you are doing, with confidence. Mistakes can be expensive and irrecoverable—lost or dejected suppliers, excessive and or obsolete inventory, missed opportunities, expensive contracts put in place, etc. Almost everyone knows that supply chain operations directly affect the enterprise finances—cost of goods sold, working capital, and cash flow to mention a few metrics. Without proper training, supply chain can be intimidating which in turn contributes to the problem.

Proper training and knowledge bring the confidence that promotes successful engagement. A bonus—efficient teams can then be formed hence enhancing the overall organizational engagement level. There are no short cuts here. Enterprises must properly train their employees to unlock their full potential and help them attain the confidence that follows. 

I’ll leave you with a popular bit of humor circulating the Internet. A CEO tells the CFO to budget for employee training. CFO: What happens if we spend the money and they leave? CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?

Ramon A. Diaz, MBA, PMP, CPIM, CSCP

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