Plant Managers Need to Ditch Their Short-Term Focus

Posted by Paradigm Learning on August 27, 2015

Written by Lauren Keen, Sales Professional at Paradigm Learning

I attended business school in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown. For literally my entire adult life, I have felt the effects of chasing short term gains while watching long term goals fall to the wayside. About a year ago, I came across this article via Pulse on LinkedIn, pinpointing this phenomenon.

It posits that a company cannot simultaneously have focused short-term (less than a year) strategy and long-term (more than a year) strategy. Rather, “a good long-term strategy would be one that has the right balance between the strategic goals and the need for short-term measures and goals.”

I tend to agree – and I’m not the only one. Leadership positions overall strategies in all companies, but over the last year, many L&D leaders have told me that their organization’s employees do not have a direct and clear line of sight between their responsibilities and those overarching strategies.

Take supervisors in manufacturing plants, for instance, whose goal it is to keep production lines running and to get the lines back up quickly when they go down. These supervisors know the cost implications of downtime. What they often don’t understand, however, is that an extra hour or two of downtime today could save them eight hours of downtime tomorrow. Saving is the opposite of cost. It’s money!

Fixing a part in one of their machines is the simplest example. The supervisors know this part goes bad every six months and always have maintenance replace the parts as they do. Knowing that while one machine is down the whole line is down, one leader had a eureka moment. Why not replace all of the parts that were due to go bad in the next month or two even if the process takes a bit longer? This simple idea saved the plant time and money, but brought the leader to me, asking why the supervisor hadn’t thought of it. I asked the leader if he had other examples to share. He did.

The answer, too, is simple: We need to change their thinking.

Topics: Leadership Development, Business Acumen