Mainstream Conference speaker Colin Young, recounts a fascinating case study in disaster management. He explains not only how his organisation dealt with a catastrophic breakdown but how they were eventually able to use the situation to strengthen the company’s position. Colin then shares his valuable insights on how to cope when disaster strikes.
The Right People, in the Right Roles
The first thing I do when faced with a plant that has low operating rates is build a strong team. You need to discover where each person’s passion meets their abilities and then structure their role in the organization around this. Because if people enjoy what they do and they’re good at it, they’re more likely to succeed. And if they succeed, the plant succeeds.
Once you have a good team in place, you must trust and respect them. Trust their expert opinions (based on experience, not position) and give them the opportunity to implement their ideas. Take managed risk and break paradigms with your team leading the way. If you don’t trust your people to try new things, then they will never reach new levels of performance.
Setting a Vision
The second step is to chart the direction. Goals and milestones must be established. The trick is to keep it simple and not overwhelm the team. Establish a set of metrics to track and improve upon, but never have more than two or three that you?re focusing on at one time. And set milestones for each goal so getting to the end result doesn’t seem so out of reach. I’ve also used monthly challenges to make the vision tangible and keep the team motivated along the way!
And keep in mind, when faced with decisions, the key question should always be: is this going to take us one step closer to reaching our goal?
Rallying the Team
The whole team (all cross-functional groups that support the plant) should be involved in the strategy. If you involve them from the beginning, they will feel valued, respected and will be more likely to support the drive. And keep them involved when goals are accomplished. When we hit our milestones, we did things that would bring the team together like team lunches, tee-shirts, and even coffee cups. Tokens of appreciation go a long way to help celebrate the entire team’s success.
The other important piece is to publish the team’s progress and to recognize them publicly. Success breeds success, so when you start gaining momentum, it will start to snowball.
I have been privileged with the opportunity to work in a number of challenged plants, and what I have found time and time again? it’s all about the people.
Colin Young is the former Engineering Manager at Loy Yang Power and is a popular Mainstream Conference speaker.