There is a great deal of resistance in the industry toward implementing new solutions to improve processes and reduce the costs of production. It may be because of the fear that implementation will cost too much or be difficult to figure out, that the system will overwhelm the staff, or that the good still won’t outweigh the bad. So, many manufacturers either don’t change or fail to manage any changes to their process, which leads to a poor outcome.
Instead, they continue to do things the way they’ve always done it, dealing with the cost of inefficiency, including:
- The amount of scrap
- Repeat processes
Each of these increases the costs of production and can impact the workload and place additional stress on your production time. It can also create quality issues that can cost you customers.
The Fear of the Unknown
If you’re thinking about changes to your manufacturing process, know that they may be met with resistance. Even when people believe the changes will bring positive results, people can still be slow to embrace change. The fear of the unknown can negatively impact their work.
It’s safer for employees and companies to maintain the status quo. It’s often easier to deal with the problems than to fix them once and for all. Without a vested interest in making a change, people can consciously or unconsciously sabotage change.
Another reason that people often resist change is what’s called cognitive inertia. Once practices are ingrained, people tend to assume they are the best way to do things, even in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary. When that happens, it’s extremely difficult to reduce the costs of production.
This is why employees will go back to “default mode” without supporting systems and monitoring.
How to Overcome the Fear of Change
When it comes to managing your manufacturing operations in today’s competitive environment, you need:
- Effective systems to manage pricing, invoicing, and operations
- End-to-end integration for fast access to data
- Simplicity to allow for fast adoption with ease of use
- Flexibility to handle change requirements, capacity, and scale
Creating the efficiencies means adopting an agile mindset that facilitates changes as your business evolves. Here are the steps to take to introduce change and get people on board.
Before introducing change, be sure to meet with key stakeholders, from front office to shop floor. If you can get them on board, you will have an easier time rolling out changes to the rest of the team. It helps to have champions for your cause.
If you’re announcing changes in a group setting, get a smaller group together first. Then, when you announce it to the larger group, the agreement of those in the know will boost the confidence of others.
It’s essential to use the principle of WIIFM when rolling out changes, or “What’s in it for Me?” Explain how a change can benefit everyone personally. If it makes them more efficient or productive or provides a positive incentive, point that out.
Explain the “Why” Behind the “What”
Throughout the process, you need to explain to people the “why” behind the “what” you want them to change. This means clearly defining the reason and purpose, the expected outcomes, and the impact of the project’s success.
The clearer you can be and the more transparent you are, the less fear that team members will have.
Create Defined Systems and Processes
Before you roll out a change, you should have defined the systems and processes you want to put into place. If it’s a new piece of machinery or production line, you’ll need to detail the step-by-step process and make sure people are trained.
If it’s a systemic change, you’ll want to inspire confidence that you’ve thought it through.
Build Feedback Loops
Throughout the change process, you’ll want to build in feedback loops in order to allow team members to evaluate the changes and feel comfortable with them. It helps them accept the change, and it can also give you valuable feedback about how it’s working (or not).
It’s crucial to monitor adoption and track results. If people are struggling to change, it’s often about their underlying fear of failure.
Set established benchmarks for accountability, and determine any corrective action that needs to take place if they’re not met.
Many manufacturers fail to follow-up at regular intervals after making changes. This is a mistake. Some people will slip back to their old way of doing things, and if you don’t notice, they may assume it’s okay.
Don’t expect inspections alone to solve problems. By the time you inspect, it’s already defective. You can’t inspect quality into a product. It’s about systems.
Use the Right Tools
You may need to adapt the software you’re using when making changes and managing your operations. Don’t make the mistake of choosing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software or other systems to meet the needs of the office staff or accounting department. Make sure the solution you’re using translates to the production floor.
Bluestreak’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Quality Management System (QMS) can keep you on track. Working in a paperless environment allows visibility and allows you to implement quality controls on the production floor and stop the wrong things from happening.
Adapt as Needed
Be open to adapting. Plans are rarely perfect. Listen to people and be willing to evolve as you get more information and feedback from those on the line.
Plans can provide a false sense of security. After all, the plan is the pathway to the end goal. It’s more important to meet the goal than stick to every part of the plan. From there, it’s about continuous improvement.
To stay competitive and increase productivity, change may be necessary. In today’s business climate, it’s likely that you’ll need to continue to improve your process and systems to grow and reduce your costs of production.
If you’re ready to leave manual, time-consuming service-based manufacturing tasks in the past, drastically reduce your scrap and rework percentage, gain visibility of your production floor processes, and build better relationships with your customers, contact us for a free consultation today!